L.E. Modesitt Jr.
The amazon.com product description:
L. E. Modesitt, Jr's first major work was a trilogy of SF adventure novels published as paperback originals in the 1980s: Dawn for a Distant Earth, The Silent Warrior, and In Endless Twilight. Together they form The Forever Hero.I've had a copy of The Forever Hero for years - long enough that I can't remember where I got it. The book is in good condition, no creases or anything, but it does have a Withdrawn From stamp inside the cover. And no obvious library marks. It also doesn't have a price written inside the cover the way most of my favorite used bookstores do it.
Thousands of years in the future, Earth is a desolate ruin. The first human ship to return in millennia discovers an abandoned wasteland inhabited only by a few degenerate or mutated human outcasts. But among them is a boy of immense native intelligence and determination who is captured, taken in, and educated, and disappears--to grow up to become the force behind a plan to make Earth flower again. He is, if not immortal, at least very long-lived, and he plans to build an independent power base out in the galaxy and force the galactic empire to devote centuries and immense resources to the restoration of the ecology of Earth.
For various reasons I never got around to reading the book until just this past month. With a few stops and starts, it took a little while to get into it, but by the second half of the book I was having trouble putting it down. At the same time, I found The Forever Hero to be somewhat confusing. There are a lot of time-jumps forward and many times I found myself scratching my head and trying to figure out what was going on/how long it had been since a particular event happened.
Overall, I'd have to give this book a mixed review. Most of it I really liked, but there were a few things, like the time jumps that just didn't quite work for me, including to an extent, the ending of the story.
The idea of using biology to manage the clean-up worked really well for me, as did a lot of the issues with the Empire - that just seemed really believable. Despite this not being quite one of my favourite novels by L.E. Modesitt, I did enjoy the read.
I'd have to recommend this if you like science fiction, but I will add the comment that I don't think this book is for everyone.