The novel starts out on the Troxia station, in orbit above the Raknii planet Troxia. It is here that we are first introduced to an alien race of feline predators: the Raknii or "Rak" as they're more often called. We also meet Squadron-Master Drik and hear of his uncanny retreat from a planet they had been attempting to conquer.
The second story line is also almost immediately introduced. A man named Dietrich inherits a vast underground apartment and a sentient super computer from his biological father. As he starts to teach the computer, Hal, more about humanity, they both start to realize that a civil war is inevitable.
I honestly think this book would be a better read the second time, once the reader knows how everything in the end connects. That was my biggest question moving through this novel, "how does all of this come together?" It all adds up near the end of this first novel, though, which I truly appreciated.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first story line about the Raknii. I wanted to know more about them and about their culture. There weren't many female Raknii characters mentioned specifically, other than dams (mothers) and priestesses. I wasn't too entirely bothered by this as I assumed it was a mostly patriarchal society. The author reinforces the structure of this society with rank stones and clearly defined titles, which I appreciated.
I wasn't so much a fan of the civil war story, which was actually a majority of this first novel. It was a very thinly veiled history lesson. I understand the author's intent, because he did mention that old Earth's past has been completely lost, and most people thought it a ridiculous thing to study. We all know that those who do not study the past are doomed to repeat it. I honestly thought, though, that the author could have been entirely more subtle with this point, and I think it would've made the story more enjoyable for me, personally.
Overall, I did enjoy reading this novel and living in the world the author creates. I'm excited to see the continuation of the series when I review Defying the Prophet: Book 2 of the Sentience Trilogy this upcoming week.
Buy Storm Clouds Gathering: Book 1 of the Sentience Trilogy at Amazon.com