He applied the Page 69 Test to his new book, Empress of Eternity, and reported the following:
On page 69 of Empress of Eternity, the effective head of the security detail for the “Executive Administrator of the Caelaaran Unity” states to one of the protagonists of the novel:Read an excerpt from Empress of Eternity, and learn more about the author and his work at L. E. Modesitt, Jr.'s website and his blog.
“Oh…it’s nothing personal, Maertyn. I’m sure you understand that.”This conversation underlies and underscores one of the sub-themes of the book, because Maertyn – as are the other protagonists [and there are three sets of protagonists in different time periods in the future of Earth] – is required not only to suffer impersonal decisions that have very intense personal effects, but to look far beyond those personal effects and eventually to make choices that will have profound effects on a personal and universal level. Unlike most people, he understands profoundly and personally that decisions which are not “personal” do destroy unique lives and that all too often those who make such decisions have neither empathy nor understanding – and then he is faced with exactly those kinds of decisions… as is every set of protagonists in the book.
“It’s never personal to others, Ashauer, but it’s always personal to those it affects, and yet through the ages, men have persisted in insisting that actions adverse to others are not personal.”
In a larger sense, the scene of which page 69 is only a part examines quietly the kinds of apparently low-key and off-scene political interactions that have determined governmental and political actions and policies throughout most cultures, as well as the limitations of governmental decision-making, and the unrealistic expectations placed on a few people and programs when those in power are unwilling to make difficult political choices.
In all three cultures depicted in the book, in very different scenarios, the protagonists are faced with horrendous situations not of their making as a result of what can only be described as unrealistic public expectations combined with political cowardice and short-term thinking and policy-making.
How they deal with their differing difficulties, while trying to find a technological solution by attempting to unravel the science that created an enigmatic and indestructible ancient artifact that is far more than the canal it appears to be, is the crux of the book… with, of course, the additional questions of whether time and myth are in reality what we – and they -- believe them to be.