Thanks for the comments, RonG!
Spoiler tags are unnecessary, as this is a spoiler thread. Says so right there in the subject line.
I could not possibly disagree with you more about the need for the epilogue. Ending the novel where you suggest would've been very unsatisfying, to my mind, because there's no resolution to any
of the plot threads if you do that. I also thought it was important to have Sonek mourn his wife, and for him to have the last word (him being the protagonist and all), especially since he wasn't in the big confrontation scene in Chapter 20. Plus I thought it was important to tie off the other threads: Capella, the Musgrave
, the Fifth Fleet, the Aventine
, etc. Without that, the novel is (again, to my mind) incomplete.
Glad you liked the book, generally, though!