What a great beginning for a true space epic: a sense of a great, ancient civilization, a problem that threatens to destroy this world, and simple (or simply profound) human emotions at the core of it. Great writing and great storytelling set the scene for this epic work, which I will enjoy following in the days to come (admittedly, I haven't read all the chapters yet). The opening has something of the sweep of Dune, but with a more "down-to-earth" core. It's a very exciting premise and unique among many of the sci-fi stories I've read on this site.
I love fantasy novels with a desert setting. There is an added edge of danger and a certain mysteriousness air created by the endless dunes or craggy mesas. These eight novels deliver epic stories and adventures.