Sten Adventures Book 3: The Court of a Thousand Suns

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The Court of a Thousand Suns
Sten Adventure 3 book cover.jpg
AuthorChris Bunch and Allan Cole
Cover artistNot listed
CountryUnited States
SeriesSten Adventures
GenreScience fiction novel
PublisherDel Rey Books, reissued by Orbit Books
Publication date
Media typePrint (paperback)
Preceded byThe Wolf Worlds 
Followed byFleet of the Damned 

The Court of a Thousand Suns is the third book in Chris Bunch and Allan Cole's The Sten Adventures.

Plot summary[edit]

Sten is now the commander of the Imperial Gurkhas, personal bodyguards of the Eternal Emperor. However, Sten isn't happy with his new assignment at the Imperial Court, thinking of Court as "boring place full of boring people". When a bomb explosion in a bar kills a local mafia leader, Sten is surprised that Emperor immediately puts him on the case, apparently for no reason. It is up to Sten and a tough female detective Lisa Haines to discover what happened.

Sten finds that the bomb was detonated by an amateur who killed the target he was supposed to capture, but whoever hired him was professional. Sten pursues the bomber, who got himself imprisoned on a Tahn world, and extracts him. During interrogation Sten discovers alarming news - the man who hired that amateur is a former member of the Mercury Corps. He also discovers codeword "Rashid" that was supposed to identify the bomber's target.

The Emperor is visibly startled; "Rashid" is his name when he goes incognito among common people, so the explosion was meant for him. He orders Sten to continue with the investigation. Sten eventually finds the renegade Mercury agent responsible for whole operation, but he commits suicide to avoid capture. Sten asks his friends (including Alex Kilgore) for help with the follow-up investigation, while the Eternal Emperor goes to a diplomatic meeting with the Tahn delegation.

In the Emperor's absence, rebels decide to put their cards on the table. Their original plan was to incapacitate the Emperor with the explosion, capture him, and reprogram his brain so he would follow their orders. Failing that, they put a backup plan in motion: Assassinate the Emperor and the Tahn delegation, provoking war between the Empire and Tahn. Sten, Alex and the Gurkgas are captured and imprisoned by the Praetorian guard, whose members side with the rebels. Sten is able to escape and, with the help of Gurkhas, overthrow the Praetorian guard. With the only communication equipment sabotaged, he has no choice but to travel to the meeting and try to save as many people as he can.

After many violent gunfights aboard the Emperor's flagship, Sten barely saves the Eternal Emperor from the assassination attempt. However, he can do nothing about the Tahn delegation, whose members were murdered at the beginning of a coup. The Tahn take the deaths of their delegation as a provocation and immediately begin preparation for a war.