The soldier is not a novel to attempt when the mind is tired or distracted. Neil has taken all of the Polity and sundry alien history he created in his earlier books and blasted a story that gives new meaning to intense drama. I started this read refreshed after a good rest and found the need to lay off it as my mind struggled to keep up. It is crucial to break up this read in chunks so as to maintain the sharpness needed to grasp all of the characters and concepts created herein. A fabulous read that will be enhanced by understanding Neil’s previous books on the Polity.