This was a recommendation from a colleague and surprised me with a gripping sci-fi story. Andy Tchaikovsky has become one of my favorite authors through this book.
The plot revolves around a planet on which an experiment is to carry out the evolution of mankind again. The researcher, Dr. Avrana Kern, belongs to the "Old Empire" which destroyed itself through a civil war. The survivors of this war have built an ark, the Gilgamesh. The spaceship roams through space and accidentally comes across the planet where the experiment has already created a new species of sentient spiders. Over many time jumps through the centuries, the development of both species is observed. Through various circumstances, both factions are set on a collision course with each other.
I was kept on the ball by how Andy Tchaikovsky managed to portray the spiders and their development over the centuries. The human part sometimes falls a bit by the wayside. The ending is different than I expected and makes you want to read "Children of Ruin".