A Gathering of Stars by Donald Moffitt is book two of the Mechanical Sky. My paperback copy was published in 1989 and has 281 pages. This was an enjoyable and satisfying conclusion to the two book series. Donald Moffitt knows how to write good science fiction. I highly recommend all of his books.
The ambitious Sultan of Alpha Centauri can only claim the illustrious title of Caliph if he makes a ritual pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. This journey completed, he will rule the entire population of the greater Islamic universe. But human knowledge has not yet been able to overcome the significant challenges presented by interplanetary travel. However, the Sultan resourcefully enlists the help of Abdul Hamid-Jones, a clever fugitive with a price on his head and the law on his heels. Thrown into the bewildering world of the Sultan-s schemes, Abdul receives a hasty introduction to complex physics and the even more complex political intrigues of the Sultan-s court. Responsible for the successful execution of the Sultan-s plan, Abdul slowly realizes with horror that the fate of the entire Solar system could be resting on his shoulders.
"The colonel's eyes glittered under his bushy brows. 'Stir things up. spill a little blood. Doesn't matter whose blood it is, in the long run. It makes people disaffected, destabilizes the government.' His eyes misted over as he contemplated truth and beauty."