I remember starting to read this book in 2003 but never got around to finishing it. I remember it being an 'epic' space opera sort of novel. I recall one of the main characters had to take part in a huge civil services examination to become an officer with several thousands other candidates. They all had to wait in a courtyard where it was very cold for days without breaking down and thus giving up, to clear the exam. He passes the time by playing his flute. I have the strange idea that his name was Hanuman, but that could be a false flag. I also remember the novel mentioning that Christianity was a dying religion. I'd really appreciate any help.