I wanted to know what became of the couple and wasn't particularly interested in the new characters. But I read on and with time the new characters grew on me and I eventually gave up trying to work out where the couple fit in to the story and just went with the flow. It seems that Sejal is the key, he is a powerful Silent (person who enters the Dream), but has no idea about any of it until Kendi takes him under his wing and starts training him. It's an interesting story, with a different look on Australian Dreamtime. And, of course, the couple at the beginning of the story were there for a reason.
I would like to stress that I have absolutely nothing against LGBT people, or LGBT characters in literature or games or movies or anything, but the idea that someone is going to write space novels with the sole purpose to put some gay guys in them, is just pure idiotism, and the total opposite of what equality and inclusion should be. However Mr. Harper's PC agenda in this novel was not limited just to the characters of two former lovers whose sexuality had absolutely no impact on the story, oh no, one of them was also conveniently Australian Aboriginal, the main family of super-psychics (including Kwisatz Haderach-like teenager) were Indian, and every other positive and capable character in the book happened to be a woman. But probably the best hilariocity moment ever was when the good guys get their hands on the incredibly powerful Kwisatz-like kid, take him to one of their planets, and just leave him there in some kind of public high school, without any guards or protection.
There is nothing ground-breaking in these books (compared, e.g., to 'The Left Hand of Darkness' in it's time) - except if you think that the fact that the two main protagonists are male and a couple to be groundbreaking, which I refuse to see this way, because it's one of the ideas behind the book, that this is absolutely normal, as it should be. Even when reading them a second time, knowing what would happen (and every book has a strong plot with side-plots and all the other things that make up a good entertainment-book), reading for the pure sake of characters and little details. One of the things I particularly like (and that might not come as a surprise knowing my own writing), is Harper's notion of family. It starts with Ara and Ben and encompasses Kendi, a process you can see developing in 'Nightmare', and then, with time, all the others - till at the end of 'Offspring' there is something like a big, crazy, wonderful patchwork thing, whether, if you'd can't go only for genetics and where you can't even say that a child has exactly two parents.
While this concept (the author's idea, I mean) seems to have been taken from the Aboriginal Dreaming, its function in the textual universe is largely practical: it enables communication between the various planets which would otherwise slow to days or weeks instead of being instantaneous (albeit expensive).
A Silent is someone who can go to a mental plane, called the Dream, where they can communicate by thought over thousands of light-years.
Unfortunately, it took me all of five minutes googling to gather Harper probably put even less effort than I did into researching indigenous Australian culture. Harper claims to have"read some books", but givena lot of the wording in Dreamer harkens to the fuckery that is Marlo Morgan's Mutant Message Downunder, Harper could probably have found more reliable resources by shitting in a hole and scrying for inspiration. I left a lot of Kendi's musings on his own people with a really sour taste in my mouth, and I'm not even indigenous Australian myself. Just, for the love of god, anyone going into this thinking they're getting an accurate portrayal of indigenous Australian culture, please know that this is the literary equivalent of Jonny Depp in The Lone Ranger. We even have a main character sex-worker, though the poverty/slavery themes make the representation fairly archaic.
Steven is the creator of The Silent Empire series, the Clockwork Empire steampunk series, and the Books of Blood and Iron series for Roc Books.