This amazing first installment of an enthralling space opera begins at the end of an empire but before most people across the Interdependency have any idea their civilization is facing collapse. Even though faster than light travel proves impossible there is something called The Flow, a way of sliding into an alternate reality current that sweeps intergalactic ships from place to place in a matter of months. Cardenia, the illegitimate daughter of the emperox is crowned when her father dies. A Flow physicist living on End, the furthest part of the empire, as a royal auditor, keeps his scientific discovery that something is amiss with the Flow on the down low as he researches it. A ship heading to End faces a mutiny. On End, a merchant prince conspires with a rebellion while his brother and sister back at the Hub connive for a political alliance.
This rich, complex, totally addictive tale is a beautiful balance of romance, politics, social stratification, religion, and commerce. It has the feel of Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga.