Travelers Rest, SC, United States | Member Since 2004
What a great start to a great ride through this series! Ringo is one of the leading names in Sci-Fi, especially when it comes to "Military Sci-Fi". Sorry for the length of the review, but I'm kinda writing for all three books currently out in the series.
In Book 1 the people of Earth breath a sigh of deep relief when the first star-faring civilization that comes through our new "Gate" is friendly... Another alien culture has dropped an interstellar-capable "Gate" in our system, without caring whether we want it or not, or caring whether we can defend ourselves from whomever/whatever may pop through at any time, or not... The Gate is a portal to our system that can be used by every hostile space-faring race out there, and we can't shut it down, or block it off! The relief is short lived though, and pretty soon Earth starts taking a beating (Though I have to say that one of the "Alien Plagues" is quite nice if you're a guy ;)! The main character, Tyler Vernon, is like a lot of people who are just trying to survive by searching for something, ANYTHING, that one of the Hyper-Advanced Alien races may want badly enough to trade some of their very old "Junk technology" for.. technology that they basically shovel out of their scrap heaps... Still, that "broken, obsolete, junk" Technology is WAY ahead of Earth's best technology, and many Earth-Based companies will pay a fortune for the scrap-tech in hopes of reverse engineering it.
Tyler Vernon offers up a lot of common items from Earth for potential trade, and hits on one substance that one alien culture LOVES... He keeps the secret of what the substance actually is long enough to get just slightly ahead of the trading curve, and from that shaky and tenuous start, he keeps "Trading Up" by selling the Alien's scrap-tech to Earth Companies, and then using the money to always have a near monopoly on the next thing the Aliens want badly. When the Aliens find that the near-addictive item is very common, they try to get all of the product in the area, only to find out that Tyler has bought all of the local stocks of it. When the Aliens try to get the USA's supply of the stuff, they again find that Tyler owns it... When they go to the Root-Source of the substance... You guessed it, Tyler and a few of his neighbors have bought every scrap of land that produces it. But then Tyler has to fend off not only Aliens, but also fight the governments of Earth who try to move in and take the product from him by force... the Aliens and the Army both find out that what seems like it should be simple to produce, isn't as easy to produce as it seems, especially not while simultaneously fighting a guerrilla war with Tyler and his neighbors!
But Tyler has MUCH bigger plans in his head... he just needs to stay ahead of the curve long enough to learn to acquire and use Alien technology, His own growing fortune, and his own smarts and bold thinking, to steadily build up forces and equipment that can make Earth's enemies wish they'd never seen our Gate!
The cool thing about Ringo's many many books is that you can almost always tell when and where he's recently gone on vacation, and you get a glimpse of his latest "real-life" interests and hobbies, because he works the knowledge he's gained, and places to which he's traveled, into the storylines of his books... And John Ringo churns out some books! He seems to always be working on 4-5 (or more) books at the same time! A few years ago at Dragon*Con in Atlanta I was joking around with John and his wife out by the pool at one of the several High-End Hotels that hosts Dragon*Con, and I jokingly asked him if he was finally falling out of his habit of releasing "only" 4-5 books every year.. his wife said, "Cut him some slack, he's released ELEVEN books in the last year alone!" You can often find John out at the pool in the evenings during the convention, surrounded by a crowd of Sci-Fi Fans and Military Vets (Many disabled vets), talking "Military" and "Sci-Fi"... He's not out there "just talking to fans with feigned 'Patience' ", he talks with people for hours with obvious "ENTHUSIASM"! The man has an INCREDIBLE knowledge of even the most obscure bits of details and trivia about nearly everything Military related. On top of everything else he has going for him, he's also your basic "nice guy"!
I'm waiting for Book 4 in the series now... John said he kinda wrote himself into a corner with Book 3 of this series, but he has no doubts a solution will come to him... I hope it comes SOON!!! It's an Awesome Series and storyline! The plots and twists just keep hitting you, rapid-fire!
I had listened to the entire "Legacy Of The Aldenata" series EXCEPT for "Yellow Eyes" (The Panamanian Perspective) and this book ("Watch On The Rhine", The German Perspective).. I skipped these two books initially because many reviewers said that they didn't add a lot to the Series as a whole, and it seemed to me that a lot of people were just skipping over these two books, so I skipped them also to get straight back to the Main Story Lines in the later books in the series ... I know, I know, Like your Mom used to say, "If everyone else jumped off a Bridge, would you jump off too"? WELL OF COURSE I WOULD (and HAVE.. Bridge Day in West Virginia.. uhhh on second thought, let's not discuss that)...
Anyway, When you listen to as many books a month as I do, for as many years as I have, you tend to run out of books that seem to interest you pretty quickly... It also seems to me that once GOOD authors start making money, they seem to just quit writing as much (until they need money again), so I find I go through long periods of "Book Slumps" where I can't find anything that interests me.... During one such Book Slump, I went back and picked up "Yellow Eyes" and found that I enjoyed it A LOT... Since I enjoyed Yellow Eyes, I figured maybe I'd enjoy Watch on the Rhine also (Hey, "It's Ringo", how far wrong can you go?)
It's a decent book. Not nearly as good as the rest of the books in the series, and it seems to wander in places, but it did hold my attention pretty well... I had to back up a few times and try to get some events straight in my mind, some parts seemed to be just "Stuck in the book as filler" with no real purpose otherwise, but after I finished it, I came away wishing there were MORE books left in the Aldenata series (and then getting bummed by knowing that there aren't any more books in the series to listen to now)...
...and I just had a feeling that if the Earth was desperate enough to "Rejuvenate Very Old Soldiers" to fill the ranks needed to fight the war, that SOME of the Rejuves in the German Forces were GOING to be Hard-Corp Nazis, with a hidden agenda to bring back "the Glory Days of the Master Race" now that they're young again... Yep, knew that was coming... HOWEVER, Ringo handled that VERY touchy and sensitive subject VERY well!! I was impressed with his handling of the problem, especially since Ringo doesn't mind "offending delicate sensibilities" just for the Sheer Joy of doing it.. which is one reason I like his work so much.. Life isn't always fair, the righteous don't always win, the bad guys don't always "Get what's coming to them", Crime OFTEN DOES Pay, etc... that's just the real world, and Ringo seldom shies away from pointing those facts out, and using them in his books.
As many other reviewers pointed out, Watch On The Rhine doesn't add a lot to the LONG Aldenata Series, and you don't miss out on much (if anything) if you skip it while listening to the rest of the series, but it's an enjoyable read even as just a "Stand Alone" book based in the Universe of the Aldenata
While listening to the original LONG series of books, I decided to skip this book since I didn't think I'd be all that interested in the "Panamanian perspective"... I'm glad I went back and picked it up (WELL after I finished the rest of the series)... It's every bit as good as the rest of the books!!
I don't think I've ever used the words "Betrayal", "Ultimate Hardship", and "Fun", together, but I can't think of any other way to describe this book. I RARELY give out 5 Stars, but I have given several to Joe Abercrombie recently! While I prefer Military Sci-Fi, I have followed the world of Joe Abercrombie for quite a while now, and just can't stop!
"Emotional Roller-Coaster" doesn't begin to describe this ride! The twists and turns, betrayals, and "Philosophy", are NOT something most of us are used to dealing with, even if you've lead a hard, Body-Breaking, life of your own. "Common Decency" is NOT Common in Abercrombie's World ;)
If you've followed the various series of these books, and "Wanted More", this is a VERY good story to pull together many of the loose ends from previous books, while also being a Stand-Alone book quite nicely... This book answers several unanswered questions from the previous books in the Series of this Universe, while telling a new and raw story all it's own.
If you put a lot of stock in the traditional values of Honor, Loyalty, Duty, Morales, etc, then you're in for a rude awakening ;) I found myself several times thinking "HOW could you POSSIBLY expect there to be 'another side' to what happened???", and then you are given the other side, and think "Well, yeah, I guess that makes sense too".. It's a bloody, emotional, backstabbing, War-Raging, ride!!! I don't normally give out 5 Stars, but I HAD to on this book!
I just can't say enough good about the skill of the Writer, or the Narrator... What a team! I waited for this book for a long time, and it was absolutely worth the wait! Even WAY above my expectations! Jack Campbell seems to LEAP forward with his writing skill with each new book! VERY Well Crafted from Start to Finish! Another "Couldn't Stop Listening Book" that left me sleepless last night!
Be sure to read the first book in the series, Mr Campbell doesn't spend much effort on "Catching up a new reader on past events", which I think is the way it should be!
The EIGHTH book in this series and I still couldn't stop listening until it was finished! I listened to it straight through! THAT is the way to write a series!!!
I was impressed with the way Mr. Larson finished the book too... It could be a "Solid Ending", OR it could continue!
WAY TO GO LARSON!!!!
I've read about everything "Sci-Fi" that Drake has written as far as I know, but I wouldn't have EVER guessed Drake wrote this one if his name hadn't been on it... What's with the sudden use of 5-dollar words, tossed in seemingly at random?
"...he said... avuncularly.."
I like David, in the past I've talked with him quite a few times when he wandered into book stores in which I was shopping in North Carolina, he's a heck of a nice guy! He's smart and well spoken, I don't know what happened with this book.
If you follow me, you know I HATE bashing narrators, it has to be pretty bad to make me comment on the narration negatively, but the reader just drones on and treats even the (few) action scenes like he's reading a happy Fairy Tale to a 5-Year Old at bed time... it's "Flat" to say the least.
While reviewing books, many reviewers often comment, "You have to suffer through X-Amount of this book to finally get to the great part...", this is one of those books from what I've heard, but I just feel like I've paid to suffer. There are many great authors that can start a series without the listener having to "suffer through character development", they're outstanding authors who WILL get (quite a lot of) my money... Drake is usually in this category, but this book just doesn't qualify. I buy books to enjoy, not to suffer through huge parts, and then spend MORE money to continue the series on the hope that it really DOES "get better next time".
I kid you not, I bought this book back in 2008, and I've spent FOUR YEARS trying to finish it without drifting off to sleep during each chapter... This time, I made a POINT of listening to the entire thing, no matter what... I hate to say it, but my overall opinion on it still hasn't changed.
Book 4 just got WAY too silly for me.. I actually found myself getting so irritated during the "Anime Field Effect" segments, and the "Guitar and Singing" Segments, that I just started fast forwarding to try to get through the absolute silliness.
The narration was done as good as humanly possible, despite the material that Ganser had to read.
This was a good listen, but I kept having to use the "30 Second Reverse Button" on my iPhone to keep up with who was talking, and what was going on... The Narrator seemed to sometimes just say the name of the ship when switching characters without enough of a pause to let you know the people/species talking were about to change... and it seemed like there was a LOT of Character/Race/Species Switching going on that I kept missing.
What may have confused me more was that I had just finished listening to John Ringo's second book in the "Looking Glass Series", "Vorpal Blade", and the two stories were so similar that I kept getting "What was going on in THIS book" confused with "What had happened in Books 1 & 2 of Ringo's Looking Glass Series"...
The similarities included throwing out the same Sci-Fi Movie Quotes at every chance (which I don't mind, it's cute sometimes), and the name "Vorpal" was in Currie's Book also, as well as about the same plot of a "Cobbled Together Faster-Than-Light Spaceship", and a lot of other things that kept causing me to sub-consciously think of the Ringo Series, and then realize that the Plot and Characters in THIS book were different... at that point, when I realized I didn't have a clue who was talking or what was going on, I'd have to back WAY up again and concentrate on listening.
Even though it wasn't a book that I could just listen to "kinda on Autopilot", and it took a LOT of concentration to keep up (Again, some of that may have been MY Fault, since I was in the middle of Ringo's series at the time), once I finished it and "let it settle in my mind", I DID highly enjoy this book in the "Odyssey One" Series. I may go back in a few months and listen to it over again, to make sure I give the story the attention it deserves without constantly thinking about Ringo's books at the same time.
This series is very hard to rate for me. I think I've "read" everything Ringo has written when it comes to Sci-Fi (and Pseudo-Fantasy), but this series, while obviously "Ringo-Ish" was just different from what I'm used to. I bought the book some time ago, and within the first 3 hours I had to put it down as "Just too plain silly to finish". Recently I tried listening to it again during a "Book Slump" when I couldn't find anything that seemed to catch my eye, and this time I just gutted-on through it.
At the finish, I immediately came to Audible and bought book 2... and then book 3, and just now got book 4.
The Books have some "just plain silly parts" scattered through them, and a Metric TON of quips and quotes from just about every major Sci-Fi movie made, but I walked away from each book wanting to continue on with the series ASAP, and I found myself with my ear-buds in while working around our ranch, and I also missed a lot of sleep listening to the books in bed... Can't ask for much more than that I guess!
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