Travelers Rest, SC, United States | Member Since 2004
I am really only rating this book as '3 Stars' out of honor for the other books in the series, which were VERY good in my opinion... If I'd listened to this book as a "Stand Alone" I probably wouldn't have even bothered to rate it, but since I enjoyed the other books in the series, I guess I have to give it at least a 'three' for filling in a little background on one of the main characters... Having said that, it's not a book I'd listen to again just for the enjoyment, and to be honest, I struggled to finish it.
As I said in my review of the first book in the series ("Old Man's War"), "The Sagan Diary" seems to be some sort of "Side-Step" to the main series, and in my opinion didn't really add anything important to the "actual" series. It was written as a "prize" for the highest bidder when one of the other books in the series was auctioned to benefit a library... I'm sure it's a masterpiece of prose, but I like "Sci-Fi" and action, not a deep treatise that I now remember only as "how do I feel about feeling when not born to feel?" (Those aren't exact words, but it's the "feeling" *I* got from reading it ;)
The narration by Stephanie Wolfe was very well done, and I truly think her performance was just about the only thing that actually kept me paying attention to the story overall.
I should have HATED this book! "Should Have"... Within the first 30 minutes, I THOUGHT I knew how this plot was going to play out. Typical "Good Versus Evil, On A Far Future Earth"... I rolled my eyes and thought, "Maybe it'll surprise you.. At least keep listening until you go to sleep"... Didn't Sleep AT ALL That Night!!
I SHOULD HAVE Hated this book, because a young man with "Special Powers" goes WAY 'over and above' to help people he had NO REASON to help, other than "It was the right thing to do", even at a HIGH cost to himself, Every time...
...This, on a future Earth where EVERYTHING about your future is decided BEFORE you're even old enough to TRY to better "Yourself".
Your parents get divorced? Then YOU can't marry because your genes predispose YOU to have the tendency to "Produce Children and then frivolously divorce YOUR spouse". Basically, "The Sins of the Father (or "Parents" in this case) are visited upon their Children"
Don't do well enough in your School's Mandatory Tests that show your "Probable Abilities In The Future"? Then AFTER you graduate, you're stuck in a menial job with no chance of ever doing better...
And then the young man with 'Special Powers', grows to develop "SUPER POWERS!" And the Earth's Police Forces, with their BRILLIANT Investigators, assisted by their Special Scanners, Cameras, 'Truth Fields', etc, placed EVERYWHERE "To keep the Population under control", try to track the young man down for, well, 'No Good Reason'. Which SHOULD BE especially crazy, considering that GANGS of Murdering Thugs seem to be able to freely Murder masses of innocent people at will, and never get caught... Yet the Police hunting the young man for 'No good reason', hunt him by making THE WILDEST "Crazy Assumptions and Guesses" about things they COULD NOT POSSIBLY know, and coming up with scenarios that they ALL admit COULD NOT POSSIBLY be true... Except that ALL of those Wild, Crazy, 'Not Possible', Assumptions, just happen to be EXACTLY "The Truth"! ... I SHOULD HAVE Hated this book for THAT alone!
Yet... When other "More Advanced" Races describe "The Human Population", they keep describing us as "A Very Peaceful Civilization, with NO 'War-Like Tendencies'..".. THAT is when I realized how jaded I have become.. I mean, "Humans are ALWAYS described as War-Mongering and Evil".. Right? I kept backing the book up to make SURE I was hearing things correctly.... Yup... WE are "A Peaceful Race That DOES NOT Wage War On It's Neighbors".. WTH???? Well, It seems that WW3 was so horrible, that NO ONE wanted war any more! And so ALL Movies and entertainment shows are made where life is great, and people fall in love, and the ending of nearly ALL entertainment shows is some version of "and then they all died in Nuclear Devastation". So in the future, we HAVE become a VERY Peaceful Race, All things considered.. Not "Perfect", but "Peace Loving" and we DO NOT want War with ANYONE, unless FORCED to defend ourselves!
Yeah... that all seems confusing on MANY levels.. but somehow, the Author makes it work! The longer you listen, the more you begin to understand that what you "Think" are inconsistencies in the plot-line; AREN'T! You just don't know enough about Human Culture 800+ years in the future... Yet! At some point as you Listen/Read, You'll realize that you're applying our 20th and 21st Century Values and Thinking, to "A Culture In The Far Future with VERY different Values and Thinking!"
I usually Dislike "Super Heroes that are nearly invulnerable".. I mean "What's the point of the plot if the Hero can't be harmed?"... OK, now make the Super-Hero become a 'SUPER SUPER Hero', AND throw in a "Gift" of "God-Like Special Powers"... And then realize that while the Earth's Policies and Governments are FAR from "Perfect", that MOST people genuinely ARE 'VERY GOOD People' who WANT to help each other; So the Limitations placed on people by "The System", CAN be overcome by good people doing good things when 'a wrong' comes to their attention.
....THEN we find out that the Earth's Technology is UNIMAGINABLY Superior to even THE MOST Advanced Races, who have always considered themselves "Our Overlords"... We're so pathetic in the eyes of those other races that we aren't even worthy of joining their "Alliance of Advanced Ruling Races"...
Humans have just grown to dislike War so badly, that we kept our Superior Technologies and abilities to ourselves, and we let the SCORES of 'Galactic Overlord Races' think whatever they want to think about us... We'll even take a LOT of crap from them, and obey their unfair edicts they issue to us... "As long as they leave us alone"...
But OF COURSE they don't leave us alone! So they get to find out WHY we don't like war... and THEY won't like 'War' any more either, after they figure out how exceptionally GOOD we USED TO BE at waging it! Just because "We Choose NOT To", doesn't mean "We CAN'T"! The 'High-Technology Aliens' who evolved on Hostile Planets and LIKE to Fight and Dominate each other (and everyone else), just haven't had the time and experience yet to learn what WE'VE learned from OUR time of being "War-like" in our distant past!
A VERY good Twist on "Races", and "Warfare"... and FOR ONCE, "WE" are the Highly Superior, Peaceful, Benevolent, Race! I had to listen to the whole book TWICE, Back to Back! Once with my 20th and 21st Century Values and Ways of Thinking, and the second time with "800+ Years In The Future" Ways of Thinking!
Someone else gave this book low ratings because it was unbelievable that a 17 year old young man went from "A Nobody, to being the Top Dog and an expert at War in just a few years.. too unbelievable!"... I think we need to remember that 'Alexander The Great' was a GENERAL by age 17, Assumed the Throne of Greece at 20, had created the largest empire of the ancient world, built HUGE new Cities and made changes to Human Culture that STILL shape our world today by age 27, and was bored with life and had run out of 'worthy goals' before he was 30! His innovations in Warfare are STILL taught in military academies today! It DOES happen!
The first part of this book is the "Action Part", decent overall, just not as exciting as I was thinking it WOULD be..
The second part of the book is just "The Hero's Trial" for some weak reason... It seemed to be spawned by some REALLY "Forced" reasoning (Blamed on "Politics", which were not very well explained for an entire second part of a book to be based upon). The Second part is "not so decent overall", unless you just like sitting in on a Military Tribunal that's KIND of just a "Fact Finding Event", yet seemed to swap back and forth between that, and a Full Military Court-Martial, and then it's suddenly "Not... Again"
It was a really tough book to rate fairly... But either way, it was NOT what I was expecting.
Jason Brenizer, a narrator I don't think I've listened to before, DOES do a really good job of "Keeping things moving along". Dunno if I'd buy "a book two" if it's turned into a series though...
OK, First off, upon reflection, I'm left with a slight feeling of "I kinda enjoyed this book", however, there seems to be one of those "Good Book Slumps" going on currently, so thinking I MAY have slightly enjoyed this book MAY be due to desperation from a recent lack of GOOD Sci-Fi Books... Have I lost you yet? If not, You're doing better than I am!
In the Sci-Fi Genre I have come to EXPECT that the Earth Encounters Aliens who are almost always technically superior to us, yet somehow we always seem to pull some stunning Victory out of the jaws of defeat by doing the best we can with what we have... This ain't that kinda book...
In this book, the Aliens are THOUSANDS OF YEARS ahead of us technologically, yet in nearly no time, a few people, hampered (as usual in books) by "Big Evil Governments and Big Evil Corporations", defy ALL odds and forces arrayed against them, and suddenly advance Physics, and our Technology, about 500+ years. I started to feel disconnected at that point by the GIGANTIC sudden LEAP in technology, and then everyone acting like they've understood it all for a 100 years or so.
But when we DO use this new Technology to build HIGHLY ADVANCED Star-Battle-Ships (In less time than you could build a canoe), we race out to confront the coming threat! What could the MASSIVE Alien Threat want from us that they couldn't obtain MUCH easier from the MANY other Planets and Asteroids they've zipped by? What do WE have that they can't get anywhere else??? When THAT question was answered, I literally laughed out loud and just began TRYING to suspend ALL belief in reality and just enjoy SOME PARTS of the rest of the story...
...but THEN things go downhill from there... To *ME* (And you may feel differently about it), It just felt like the Author couldn't think of a way to make advances and "threats" at least "SEEM Possible", so he kinda resorted to the old "We can do these impossible, unbelievable, things because... well... BECAUSE I SAID WE COULD!" The action scenes seem to be tossed in at random and forced into place, like someone said "There should be some Action here".. and the daring hero buckles under immediately after the appropriate amount of "Action" is finished.
I dunno... just seemed really "Jumpy", "Forced", and the plot seems to often depend on "And Then A Miracle Happens"...
This Author shows a lot of promise! I expect his work will get much better as he goes along, but already the basic ideas he presents will hold your attention.
The Narrator got on my nerves to begin with, but as I listened and learned his "Style", I actually kinda enjoyed his voice... It's very low and sometimes "Gravely", but during the action scenes it really brings out the "Grit" in the Situation, especially while officers and troops are barking orders, or fighting... Give him a chance and you will probably soon get used to his style...
Since I like the "Mech Armor" genre, I came VERY close to giving the book four Stars, but I decided to go with three stars and mention in the review that I considered it more of a "High Three Stars Book"... Again, I expect the Author will improve as he gets more books under his belt... I'll be watching for more from him.
As other Reviewers have said, there are no real answers to the major questions you'll have from Book 1, in Book 2... but you DO begin to realize that this is going to be a LONG series, and the first few books are basically "Setting Up" the rest of the Series...
Before you Groan and think "48 HOURS of 'Set Up'?!?", It doesn't feel like typical "Set Up".. the Action is there through the entire Series, and you learn the Characters as you go along.. it's the PLOT that's being "Set Up", not just the Characters...
Up Front.. This seems like it's going to be a VERY long Series... Along the lines of "G.O.T.", Just don't expect all of the questions to be answered right off the bat, Although you'll probably start to get an idea of where things are headed, and "What's What" as you get further into the first two books... unless Anthony Ryan pulls "a Mind-Twist" and yanks what you THINK is going to happen out from under your feet ;)
A Very Enjoyable Series so far, especially if you like longer books and series! I just hate waiting on the next Book each time I finish the current one... but who doesn't?
While I am reminded of Joe Abercrombe's books (Which I like), I like Ryan's writing style much better! It's hard to describe, but Ryan's action scenes and battlefields feel "Real" in both size and scope. I don't feel like a massive battle, covering huge areas, is more like a small fight in one small field or small town. You get the actual feel of "Large Spaces" and "Big Countries".. Riders can't just seem to "Ride Hard" and be on the other side of the Battle/Country in 10 minutes.
I also like his knowledge concerning weapons, tactics, and how happy, carefree, people steadily become "Hardened", and then "MORE hardened" by experiences and training... I dislike tales where a "hero" just suddenly picks up a weapon and magically becomes "The Battle Hardened Savior" in a few days or weeks... things like that just don't happen in real life, and the journey to be "Hard Enough" to do things that HAVE to be done takes time and experience (I wish I didn't know).
Ryan's details are excellent and realistic (Within a Fantasy Setting). As an example of what I mean, I am reminded of an original painting I own, hanging in my office, which is AWESOME and Beautiful, but the Female Warrior in the Painting is holding her Two-Handed Sword with her right hand jammed up hard against the bottom of the Cross-Guard, and her left hand is jammed tightly against the bottom of her right hand on the Sword's hilt. She also has none of the thousands of scars that are inevitable on the hands of anyone that has seriously trained to fight with knives, swords, or any other "Hand Weapon" (Another detail I wish I didn't know personally). My 12 Year Old Daughter (My Youngest) looked at the painting not long ago and said, "Dad, this painting has always bugged me... She doesn't even know how to hold her sword" (Not sure HOW I feel about THAT yet.. but NONE of MY Four children will ever be kidnapped or abused!). When a decently trained 12 Year Old can pick out that kind of detail, then a writer who crafts stories for Adults should know those details also!
Same for "Horses", if you're going to use them in your works, then you should know the animals, as well as what they CAN, and CAN'T, really do (We own a Horse Ranch, So I do know a little about them)... Ryan DOES know those types of details, and he effortlessly crafts them into his works! THAT is impressive! Maybe that's one of the reasons his Stories seem so realistic... it's aggravating when you NEED to get someplace in a hurry on Horse-Back, and your horse can't keep up a full gallop for NEARLY as long as they do in many movies and stories... they get tired, they need rest, they need food and water and a lot of "Upkeep", both on, and off, the trail... EVERY horse has it's own unique personality, just as people do. My large male Quarter Horse, "Bandit", will steal "treats" out of your Cargo Pockets without you even knowing he's emptied your pockets (thus his name)! Knowing that, would you want to ride my horse named "Temper"? Again, ALL of this is the type of detail that Ryan relates in his books! Impressive!
Why do I think these details are important? Because we learn from our experiences and the things we read. I met MANY soldiers in the Military who made classic mistakes because they "Learned" what they THOUGHT were "Skills" from Reading books and watching movies... it takes a long time to UNLEARN this type of mistaken (and dangerous) "Pre-Concepted Skill". I know about "Artistic License" and "Moving the story along", but Ryan seems to be able to incorporate correct details, and use them to make his stories BETTER, so why can't other writers?
As usual, Steven Brand does an EXCELLENT job of Narration. Sometimes it can be a little hard to realize a new person is suddenly talking, or WHO that new person is, but if you pay attention and get your mind back on the book, you easily figure it out, and realize that maybe you just weren't paying as close attention as you should have. I found this actually helped keep my focus on the story-line, since focus can easily wander a little when listening to 23-24 HOURS worth of book! Whatever the reason, his style of narration works, and works well!
As I write this I'm almost finished with Book 2, "Tower Lord", Which is even better than book 1! So you have THAT to look forward to if you like "Blood Song".
First off, "Pure Sanderson"! Probably one of the best writers of the Fantasy Genre, if not *THE* best, and continuously getting better! As usual he lead my moods and expectations down a path of his own making, and by now I know better than to even TRY to figure out in advance where that path is leading.
This is a Young Adult Book, however it doesn't detract from the story for adults that I could tell (Or maybe I should contemplate more on my own maturity ;)
At times I found myself DEEPLY engrossed in the tales of Battles out in "Nebrask", guts and muscles clenched, actually worrying for the characters while a soldier describes the scene of the men battling for their lives after they are cut off from the main force; listening to the Teller's description of the battle fortifications and the terror and desperate fighting of the Soldiers, the enemy hordes attacking them again and again, the bravery of the men in the face of the inevitable defeat and horrible death... and then it's mentioned AGAIN that the "Attackers" are "2-Diminsional Chalk Figures Drawn On The Ground"... Every time this happened my worry vanished and I burst into laughter, and thought "He's done it to me again!" I mean, a Garden Hose could have wiped out the "attackers"! I still chuckle thinking about it! I kept skipping backward trying to see WHERE and HOW in the story Sanderson got me so engrossed and personally involved in a particular section!
I always have to ask.. "WHERE does he come up with his material???" Sanderson's ideas are just NOT "Something I've seen before in other books"; His work doesn't fit into ANY mold of writing style, and it doesn't fit into ANY single genre! Every time I pop onto Audible now (Almost Daily), I look for a new work by Sanderson... in my mind, he's a Master of his trade in every sense of the word! He's "One Of A Kind"
I've just quit saying "I DON'T generally like Fantasy Novels", because Sanderson has made a total liar out of me since I found his books.
I've listened to everything Charles Sheffield has written as far as I know, and this left me feeling like it just wandered around, not doing anything, waiting for action that doesn't come due all of the "Restrictions" imposed by other "Advanced Races" that just don't make sense after reading the First Book in this Series...
To me it felt like Sheffield was just trying to get something out for sale without the usual thought put into it. The physics are highly discussed, but simple things like "Radio Communication Underwater between two people is impossible while wearing space suits". Radio propagation is suddenly "Line of Sight Only" (When it's convenient for the plot line). An ocean of "Heavy Water" doesn't allow sound to travel (Sound waves underwater actually travel FASTER than they do in air, yet in this book sound doesn't travel in the water at all, even though it's more dense than Earth's Ocean water). There are just a LOT of flaws that Sheffield usually doesn't make in his books.
All of the Characters are either Shivering Drug Addicts, or Recovering Addicts, OR their "Skills" are gone into with WAY too much detail, and then they aren't used AT ALL in the book.. in fact those characters just seem to be in the way. The characters just all felt "Flat" to me, and many are simply dropped from the story line with nothing more than an occasional mention of them from time to time. We follow a "Weapons Master" who contributes NOTHING to the story line, other than to give two more characters (A Magician and her Male Friend that can talk to animals, even though they never once use those skills) a sharp device so they can make an escape, and even THOSE characters are never used for anything at all, since ABSOLUTELY NO "Violence" can be used by humans. Hate to say this, and don't think I ever have before, but I'm glad there's no book 3.
Cute, during a Book Slump when I can't find much good that I haven't already read or heard...
Funny, As I listened to this, I kept hearing "Take My Love, Take My Land..." in the back of my mind.. I guess it's "Funny" because I own "Serenity Ranch, On Serenity Mountain" (so OF COURSE there's a "Serenity Valley") ;) I think you could follow this book along and name every Episode in the action.
Take the Races from Middle Earth, Set them on a Firefly-Class Transport (It's NOT really a "Firefly Class Transport", but it's definitely NOT an "Ant Class", or "Gnat Class" either), Take some action scenes from "Tremors", and dialog from MANY Short-Running Cult Classic TV Series (and a dead Jedi or Two) and put them together with NO "Physics".
Instead of the Universe being governed by "Physics", you have "Magic". Instead of "Space" you have "The Void"... think of it as "Space Lite"... Your "Void Ships" are Wooden Ships with Sails that fly through the Void via "Magic", but OF COURSE your ship is also a "Water Boat" and a "Covered Wagon".
In "The Void" everything has it's own gravity (no matter how large or small) and that gravity somehow causes a bubble of air to form around everything (Just get rid of all those "pesky problems" and get on with the action, Right? ;) ). You need a lot of money desperately, except that you always seem to have the ready gold to hand when it's needed to pay for those pesky supplies and repairs ("Money" falls under the category of "Pesky Problems" ) ;)
Lots of "Family Feelings" and "Feelings Of Belonging", Aboard.
I kept thinking "It's a Book, about Books/Movies inspired by Wars". J.R.R. Tolkien was inspired by his experiences before, during, and after, World War One. Whereas "Firefly" was Inspired by the American Civil War, and Zombie Movies were first inspired by people who saw the aftermaths of several wars...
The Narration was a bit strange.. "Saw" becomes "Saur", and an "R" seems to find it's way into every "W" as the Narrator tires before each stopping point.. but that's trivial. I DO wish the Narrator had better recording equipment... For some reason it makes me antsy to hear someone breathing in my ear before I go to sleep listening to a book, and the "P's" pop from time to time, along with some other things that are usually filtered out.
Dunno why it's listed as "Science Fiction" since A LOT of work went into removing ALL "Science" from the story.. Maybe "Void Fantasy" would be a better genre for this to be in ;)
Sheffield didn't know the meaning of the word "Shallow". Some of his SF may seem to be Simplistic, but it's NEVER Shallow... Thoughts within thoughts, puzzles inside of puzzles, he could lead you as far as you cared to follow in his writing.. There's always another layer...
... and lots of "Lists" ;)
Sad to see that Audible doesn't have the 5th (and last) book in the series, "Resurgence"...
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