She was looking at the sun, now four fingers high over the jagged black horizon. “Oh my God, look at it,” she said. “Just look at it.”A rambling combination of detective story, solar system travelogue, and rather unconvincing romance, this book may be the favourite on the BSFA shortlist for Best Novel, going by GoodReads / LibraryThing statistics. James Nicoll and Vandana Singh have pointed out some of its failings. I too was disappointed by it; I found myself several times looking up from the screen (reading on various combinations of iPad and iPhone) and thinking, "This narrative technique was done much better in the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. Who is it who wrote this book and is trying to rip off KSR's style? Oh..."
Wahram tried, but it was too bright, too big.
In particular, I felt that a couple of important plot points were simply badly done - the mysterious person who appears on Io quite early on, and the kidnapping of our heroine while visiting China, are both important developments which are just under-reported. Also, the policeman at the heart of the detective story element behaves in an utterly unprofessional way in terms of sharing his speculation on the crime (the destruction of a large city on Mercury, and related events) with our protagonists - it is as bad as The Terminal Experiment. As both Singh and Nicoll point out, our heroes' decision to crucially intervene in the ecosystem of Earth is arrogant and crazy, but reported in entirely positive terms. And there is a crashingly dull lecture on revolutions in the middle.
There are good bits too. There are two excellent descriptive set-pieces - the long walk through the tunnels of Mercury, and the dangerous spacewalk in the orbit of Venus - which really grabbed me. The descriptions of worlds other than Earth are vivid and engaging (just a shame about Earth then). But it's a bit of a trudge to get to those parts.
(Also, annoyingly, "Yggdrasil" was mis-spelt "Ygassdril" at several points.")