Travelers Rest, SC, United States | Member Since 2004
This is one of those stories that are FULL of FANTASTIC twists and turns! It's also NOT one of the types of books that has a slow beginning and eventually builds up into a good book; Jeff Carlson tosses you directly into the action of a good book right from the start! I dislike books that I have to suffer through a very slow first half to get to a great second half (I always feel like I'm buying "half a book" when I see a review that says, "Slow start, but hang with it and it get's better"), so this book was especially REFRESHING!
The skill that was put into the story is evident in many ways, very early on... despite the very fast start in the action, I never once felt confused about "Who was who". Also, being an Engineer, I always seem to notice technical flaws in a book when they pop up from time to time... but Carlson did his research so well, and seems to be so knowledgeable about the subject matter, that I never once got yanked out of "Book Trance" by a bad technical detail!
Knowing that this was a "First contact book" early into the story, I (as everyone does) started thinking of all the tiny bone-headed things *I* might do wrong during contact with a new civilization that thinks TOTALLY differently from how we think (while hoping the new hypothetical civilization has "patience" for my mistakes)... Carlson takes that whole idea MUCH further!!! What if WE have to make first contact, and we do it on a world that is so TOTALLY different from ours, that our most natural gestures are WRONG in their view? And what THEY naturally do seems to be WRONG in OUR view? And of course, while worrying about the above, throw in that you're doing it "while contacting a species that has almost NO patience with mistakes, and who have no way of understanding US, or that we may even be from another world"... Forget the old common routine of: "don't smile because showing your teeth might be taken as aggression"... And while going far beyond something simple like that, be sure to write the book from the point of view of a sex opposite from your own, and get the details of how THEY think correct also!
I love books that make you THINK along with the author, learn new things, and give you even more mental tools to help you think "out of the proverbial box" (Tools we usually promptly put INTO our mental tool-BOX ;)
The only down-side to this book was the audio quality... I usually download the "Enhanced" Audio Quality of each book and let it auto-download into my iPhone. The Audio quality of this selection was scratchy and slightly distorted at times, HOWEVER the Story and Narration were AWESOME! I don't know if the Audio quality was from the recording, or if I just noticed it so badly because the Enhanced Format allows you to hear every flaw... Kinda like listening to a song of a favorite older music group that has been transferred onto digital media from the original (old) Studio Tapes (even though this is a newer book)... Or maybe I just somehow got a bad download (I guess it could happen)...
Whatever the reason for the bad sound quality, it's gets a bit better, and "The STORY" is what's important! I got so wrapped up in the story that I didn't notice the sound quality any more.
As is always the case when finishing a great book, "I wish there was a second book"!
I listened to the samples of this book back when the all of the complaints were being written about the narration.. I admit, just from the sample, I passed on this audio-book the first time around because of the bad reviews on the Narration, and from the sample I listened to (Even the sample was enough to let you know how bad it was).
I stumbled back onto the first book of this series the other day, read the reviews as late as just a few months ago, and thought "Yeah, I remember this one", and started to click my "Back" button on my Browser... THEN I saw the New note from the publisher saying the Narration had been redone, and even sound effects added.
...So I took a chance...
The NEW Narration is VERY good!!! The background sounds are subtle, and don't come anywhere near being a "Performance", and they ADD TO the book, rather than distracting from it! I started hearing this slight "Rumble" early in the book and at first thought "Oh no, Bad recording with a hum in it", but then I realized it was just the low background Hum of being inside a Spaceship! The Low "Spaceship Hum" (MUCH lower than the Noise inside a large Commercial Aircraft that you learn to tune out), drops out when the People hit Planet-Side! The Low Hum lets you know each time you're on a space craft.. along with lightly hearing digital buttons being pressed, "Acceleration Gongs", "pops and pings" as metal cools, the noises made as enemies cut into a space craft hull, etc... ALL of which are LOW in the background so as not to be annoying, and DO compliment the overall story.
The Narrator does SUCH a much better job doing THIS book, than he did previously on the first attempt... I was impressed by such a radical turn-around in the Narrator's style.
As for the Writing of the book itself, it's kinda long winded in some places, and slows WAY down in many action scenes when you really want the speed to pick up and get on by the sections that clearly have WAY too much unimportant detail...
Overall I enjoyed this book highly with the new narrator, and I think any flaws in this Audio-Book now have to be laid at the writer's feet... But it's well written except for the Constant (out of place) chuckles and the CONTINUOUS forced laughter when it's not Really appropriate, and the delays in "Getting on with the action" by putting too much unimportant trivia in SOME of the action scenes.
In the Future, the Gender Roles are reversed since men become nearly extinct in the past a few hundred years before this Book's Time Period takes place... Females may squeeze a Man's Butt, or "Pat his Package", by surprise, as has LONG been the case with men doing the same to Women in Sexual Harassment matters... Not to mention Men hitting "The Glass Ceiling in their Careers" due to their Gender... That whole concept is VERY well done! It gives men a glimpse of the CONSTANT crap that women are often forced to "just deal with".
If you listened to this book with the old Narration and couldn't get through it, or HATED IT, yet you still have in your library, just delete THAT copy, and download the new one.. According to Audible, replacing the old version with the new one is absolutely free!
I LOVE 'History' (among many other things), especially this time period in history. When you get into 'real' history deeply enough, you come across A LOT of times where you read an account of something, and think, "WHAT?!?! That's ALL?!?! No No No No! SOMETHING else OBVIOUSLY happened here! How could you spend YEARS getting some place, then doing 'something' huge, then spend YEARS going back home, gathering up a BIGGER army, going BACK again... and then stick a note in your diary that basically says: 'Nothing really happening here, So I just suddenly decided to leave'.(?????)"
I think Mr. Watson's story about one of these times might actually be as good as whatever 'really' happened between the Romans and the Brits. I just know I've spent a LOT of time and money wandering around the MANY sites where the 'Fiume Rubicone' flowed as it changed it's banks and beds over 2000 years... and Caesar's (SPARSE) account of Britain just doesn't feel ANYTHING LIKE the 'Caesar' *I* have come to know... Waton's story about Britain feels more like something Caesar would have written, than what Caesar actually wrote!
My Head is still PACKED, trying to totally sort out and comprehend what I've 'read'...
Every once in a great while, I wish I could give an "Overall" score of MORE than 5 stars... Sometimes an Author and Narrator (and everyone else it takes to produce works like these) team up, and the books end up being greater than the sum of the parts that produced it...
...and there's MORE coming?!?
I said early on that Evan Currie was going to get better with each book, and he hasn't disappointed me yet!
Aside from the books he's turning out at a pretty steady pace, I really like a lot of things about the Author "personally" (I don't know him personally, I just know what I've SEEN that he's DONE)... He doesn't just 'write about' "Perseverance" and "Courage" and the usual things; He displays those qualities himself! The First book I read by Currie was "Into The Black", which he'd originally Self-Published. As I said while reviewing that book, "Some people have a story inside them that they believe will connect with readers, if only they can get that story in front of the intended audience. For a new author, getting a book published the traditional way is very often a lesson in 'Why you can't', punctuated by stumbling blocks that seem almost designed to say 'give it up, you don't believe in it enough'". It takes a LOT of Perseverance, Courage, and belief in YOURSELF and your own abilities, to 'push on through' when 'the experts' are telling you, "you can't". I LOVE seeing people turn 'You Can't' into 'THEY DID!' That's the same mix of qualities that you HAVE to have to go far in the Military, "Push On Through!", which is one of the things that shines through in Currie's Military Sci-Fi Books!
At first, "Seal Team 13" felt like a sudden sharp left turn away from the other books I've listened to by Currie, but in a great way! Looking back, it's not really such a hard sharp turn, Currie seems to love writing Military Sci-Fi (Which I just happen to love reading, so it works out well ;) but Currie's past works had a "Space Based Theme" to them early on... This book doesn't go "Into Space", instead it goes "Across the Veil", which was the good twist that made me feel like he'd suddenly made a turn from his earlier works...
Currie also has this knack of introducing "New Tech" in such a way that you don't realize it's "New Tech" and that it doesn't really exist, until later on after you kinda reflect on the book... Then I kinda slapped myself on the forehead, said "Duh", and thought, "I have GOT to get away from my Work-Bench more often" ... As a side note, If I DID 'get away from my work-bench more often', that would be about the time my wife would gleefully whip out her video of me 'Riding Fence' on one of our horses, with a CAD program open on my Palm-Top Computer, designing a new circuit that suddenly hit me... so let's just not go there ;)
Currie kinda "Slips the new stuff in on you" WITHOUT screaming "This is NEW STUFF that *I* thought up" the way many authors do... Nope, he just slips something in, and you don't even realize it doesn't exist... It may be the cool way he has of not trying to "Teach you how to build one yourself", instead he just writes about it like, "Yawn... this is common as dirt, EVERYBODY has one" as the character whips it out and uses it... 5 minutes LATER, your brain catches up and you think, "A WHAT? Wait a Minute...."
I also liked the Narration by Todd Haberkorn a LOT more! The "Odyssey One" Series, was a bit hard to listen to at first, and I kept thinking "But the writing seems to be good, maybe it's the Narration that's pulling the experience down for me".. Then in the last book of that series, the Narration switched to David deVries, and the book came alive! Usually swapping Narrators in the middle of a series is a recipe for disaster from fans, but I noticed his book ratings suddenly seemed to go WAY up, and *I* thought it was a great choice (not that what *I* think means much, until it's time to pay the bills ;)! So I think Mr. Haberkorn is going to the same amazing job of Narration, and "bringing the Characters to life", as deVries brought to the Odyssey One Series! I mean, there HAS to be another book here! Currie closed the book down, but he left the story line wide open for MORE!
...And OF COURSE, "I want MORE"!
It seems like I waited FOREVER for "The Dark Defiles" to FINALLY come out and make it "Across the Pond" and onto audiobook.. I Pre-Ordered it when I first saw it on the "Coming List", and then I waited some more... I was VERY pleasantly surprised when it suddenly showed up in my Audible App's Library on my iPhone, and it was WELL worth the Wait! I have anticipated this book for so long that I Stopped listening to the book I was listening to at the time, to start This one!
I have to say that I liked "The Dark Defiles" A LOT MORE than I liked "The Cold Commands" (Which I liked quite a lot, despite the seemingly endless "Grey Spaces Treks")
The HARD-CORP Sex is toned down and cut back a LOT more in this book than in both of the previous books of the series... After the 'Over The Top', HIGHLY Detailed, scenes in the other books of the series, it was nearly unnoticeable (as such things go)... I didn't even have to hit the "Forward Ahead 30 Seconds Icon" even once! ;)
It WAS a bit confusing... Morgan doesn't do a lot of "Rehashing Of Previous Books" when he writes, which is one thing I LOVE about his writing style, but I had to stop the book early on, and go back and listen to the last few hours of "The Cold Commands" again to regain my sense of "what was going on" in The Dark Defiles. It was like "The Last book Ended, and this one continued on almost in mid-sentence, as if no time had passed at all between the end of The Cold Commands and the release of The Dark Defiles" (it's only been a gap of THREE YEARS after all ;)... But once I got my feet back under me, I started The Dark Defiles again, and went right on straight through!
I finished up the book, and still felt a little confused about "EXACTLY" what happened in some places in the book, so I listened to the ENTIRE book a second time, and found where I'd missed some details while trying to Work around the Ranch and listen to the Audio Book at the same time.. Came away from the Second Listen satisfied and stable! ;)
A LOT of people won't like this book, I'm Sure... But even though I have always considered myself a "Military, Space War, Sci-Fi Fan" I've found myself really liking this style of book more and more, especially since 'The Bigger Name Writers' are really starting to get into the Genre and turn out some excellent work! Morgan ALWAYS seems to like to put his Signature "Roughly Used Future" into his books, and I was glad to see that prominently displayed, and 'The World' of 'A Land Fit For Heroes' explained in MUCH more detail, in this book also!
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?
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