A Long Sci-fi Novel with a Civil Examination like in Ancient China


New Member
Nov 2, 2021
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.

It's probably not right byt Piers Anthony's apprentice adept series has the game in it where contestents enter a world wide contest to become citizens and the hero wins one duel within the game by playing a flute while his rival plays some other instrument in their duet.

Cheers, Greg.
It's a long time since I read it, and I don't think I finished it either, but that sounds, to me, like "The Parafaith War" by L. E. Modesitt.
I'm a bit doubtful about this.
I have the parafaith war as an ebook and I've just done searches for civil and service/s and candidates and cold and courtyard and flute and officer.... some hits but none that were relevant to the question
This vaguely reminds me of the second book of The Broken God series by David Zindell, called The Wild. The protagonist, called Danlo, is trying to get into an academy or something and he along with others have to remain outside in the cold (on ice with only a mat) for as long as the examiner tells them. I think it takes days and lots of people give up or collapse, but Danlo somehow warms himself up using 'mental powers'. He may have had a flute too.

EDIT: Just read the wikipedia entry on The Broken God, it states that Danlo did receive a flute as a gift from another character in that book.

EDIT2: After a bit of Internet detective work (my copies of the book are in storage somewhere) Hanuman is the antagonist of the whole series...well eventually. So I'm now pretty sure that's the books you are describing. So basically, if you want to read them in order: Neverness (Which I loved) is a standalone that goes before the A Requiem for Homo Sapiens trilogy, which are: The Broken God, The Wilds and War in Heaven.
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