Let me start off this review by saying that I really enjoyed "Cosmonaut Keep" both for the political intrigue typical of Macleod, and because of the fascinating circumstances in which it took place. It is therefore with some regret that I can only give the sequel, "Dark Light", three stars. Don't get me wrong, this wasn't a bad book, and by the standards of most science fiction it was a great book, but it really wasn't up to Macleod's usual high standards.
The plot picks up where "Cosmonaut Keep" left off: with the familiar cast of characters traveling to the planet Mingulay. Unfortunately, right off the bat the writing gets awkward. Gregor and Elizabeth, the two main characters from the first novel, have a role in the first twenty pages, and then completely disappear for the next 150. Now, I understand that Macleod is looking for an epic feel, with a large cast of characters, but it really interrupts the flow of the novel when two important characters fall completely off the radar.
As the novel continues, we learn of Matt Cairn's quest to solve the mystery behind the origination of the Second Sphere, and later, having received his answer, engaging in political-military intrigue to equip Mingulay to meet its fate. Unfortunately, Macleod's touch isn't as deft as it usually is in this area. The machinations of the characters seem more contrived than meaningful, and I was frequently left wondering why they were even bothering. Motivations in this novel are muddy to say the least. Also, Macleod on several occasions seems to be on the verge of delving into the nature of faith, but then he backs away, leaving interesting, but half formed, ideas on the page.
As I stated earlier, "Dark Light" is not a bad novel, and if you enjoyed "Cosmonaut Keep" you will definitely want to read it (if you haven't don't even attempt to start with this book, you'll be lost from the get go). However, it falls short of Macleod's previous writings, and is somewhat disappointing as a result. Still, it is does have some remarkable moments of adventure and imagination, and if you're looking for a quick, smart read, you won't go wrong with "Dark Light".