I enjoyed this book even more than the first. The Jao race's character is better developed and individual characters are better developed. The story is exciting but also gives the reader much to think about in terms of relationships between humans and the alien races as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each. Chris Patton does a superb job of reading, making the characters vivid and compelling. Sadly, there is no mention of a sequel on Eric Flint's web site, and with the death earlier this year of coauthor K. D. Wentworth, this is probably the last in the series.
I loved this book. I have been a fan of the Odyssey One series since the first book and this current book is no less enjoyable than previous episodes. This volume, apparently in a new spin-off series, with a new hero, is really great space opera. Lots of problems to solve, very interesting speculative physics and some new monsters make for a great listen. The band of explorers get side-tracked looking for clues to the source of the Drasin, but learn new things about the universe they live in. I was sorry to have the novel end and look forward to the next book. I did not initially like the reader's voice, but he did an excellent job of keeping the excitement going and playing the multiple characters in the story.
It looks like the publishers and Ms Rusch are trying to milk this story for all its worth financially at the expense of the reader. This "book," I hesitate to call it that, is just a few chapters of character development. It's reasonably well-written, in the author's rather unique style, has good character development, but no action, no real story. I feel like I've been taken advantage of, wanting to continue the series, which, overall, has been quite good. With the number of books in the pipeline, it may take years, if ever, for the reader to actually reach a conclusion of the tale. This wouldn't be so bad, if the individual parts had something to say. I recommend this book for readers of the series, only because there is enough background information that might make it harder to understand what is going on in the future. Otherwise, it's pretty trivial.
While the action is good, there isn't a lot else to recommend this story. It seems to be written for 10 year old boys and would be perfect to make into a mediocre movie. There is no subtlety to the plot; the aliens are unbelievable, and the dialog is pretty trite. Everything seems too obvious and simple as the plot progresses predictably from one point to another. The author has managed to take all wonder and mystery out of the universe, not an easy task. I'd like to know what happens in future episodes, having been stranded in the middle of a battle when the story abruptly ended, but probably not badly enough to continue buying the series.
I also got this book free and for that price, it's not bad. There are some good things to report about the book, basically an interesting story, good characters that are well-developed and good dialog. However, counterbalancing that are some pretty awful plot devices, preposterous turns in the plot, and unclear character motivations. Thriller plots generally require that the protagonist doesn't know everything the omniscient reader does. The protagonist also must lack some prudence. After all, if a vicious killer were after me and my family, I would hole up in a cave on the other side of the world until he was caught. That wouldn't make for much of a story Yet, in this novel, the author has carried stupidity to a laughable extreme. Time and time again, our hero, Mike Houston, and his colleagues, eschew any attempt to track the killer, whom they know is tracking them. He leaves his daughter unguarded, so she can, predictably, be snatched. His final showdown with the sniper, out of his jurisdiction, is too far-fetched to be believable. I will say, from listening to this story, that the author has the potential to do better, and I would welcome another novel by him. I found the narration only fair. Christopher Price did a good job when speaking dialog, but the narrative portions of the story were delivered in a tedious, somewhat slow fashion that detracted from the story.
I have enjoyed the Safehold saga but enough already. There are now 200 hours of story-telling and we've progressed only about 6-7 years into what is undoubtedly a long timeline. Good character development, great battle scenes, clever political manipulations, are all marred by excessive attention to minutiae that most readers probably don't want to read or hear about. Certainly, I have learned more about the process of gun manufacturing than I ever wanted to know. Weber also has a penchant for inserting multiple new characters and inventing new locations for action, that ultimately become confusing. Without any detailed maps of Safehold, trying to figure out the geography of the story is impossible, and remembering who all the characters are, just as impossible. I would love to see tighter writing, shorter books, and some meaningful progression toward a conclusion. Otherwise, the final volume may be decades away.
Abaddon's Gate is a worthy addition to the Expanse series and I am pleased to find out there will be another book. The two authors, whose collaboration seems to be seamless, have continued the saga of James Holden and his crew against the backdrop of a deadly conspiracy and a great galactic mystery. The story is exciting and well-plotted. I particularly like the ability of the authors to get beyond mere space opera and conflict to explore the human condition. There is far more character development here than in most Sci-Fi novels and the characters, with all their flaws, move the plot along, often with major missteps, because they are far from perfect. They misinterpret situations, are purposely mislead by others, and through their flaws, don't always do the right thing. This makes for a much more believable than usual story, even though the Sci-Fi concepts are way out there. Moreover, the political wrangling among the various factions rings true in our contentious political era in the United States. This is the best series I have read or listened to in years. My only complaint is that, at times, things seem to move a little slowly, and perhaps the novel could have been a little shorter.
As an older adult, I'm not usually a fan of young adult literature. That being said, I enjoyed this series immensely. Unlike many sci fi authors, Beth Revis has fleshed out her main characters quite well. She has also raised and handled well a number of important issues: leadership competency, personal growth, racism, tolerance, and love. Quite a lot on the plate for a young adult series. Shades of Earth is brutal, not ultimately perfectly satisfying in its conclusion (like life.) But it is consistent with the rest of the story and tightly told. Sometimes the thrill-a-minute-pace, carnage and implausibility is a bit much for the reader, but overall the series ranks as one of the better ones I have read. The series is good enough that I can overlook the somewhat silly plot devices required to move the story along: such as the shippers not knowing that Godspeed was orbiting Centauri Earth in Book 2. Rather than carp at the fact that the ending is a bit inconclusive, fans of the series should hope that Ms Revis writes another sequel at some point in the future.
If you love Honor Harrington and adore her treecat, Nimitz, you are going to be disappointed as neither makes an appearance in this novel; perhaps because it's the second half of "A Mighty Thunder," divided in half no doubt because of its extreme length. Well, "Shadow of Freedom" is still too long. Mr. Weber, always fond of using too many words, has padded this story out beyond easy comprehension. He introduces multiple new situations and multiple new characters to the point where the listener becomes confused and bored. About 25% of the novel is good, with great battle scenes, though they are a bit long. The rest is eminently forgettable. The author normally excels at keeping his plot lines and timeline consistent, but this time, he seems to have erred in a short Zilwicki sequence and a reference to Honor Harrington's role in constructing the peace agreement with Haven. The latter seems perfunctory and not consistent with the time frame of the rest of the story. I, along with other reviewers, would like to see the Mesan Alignment tale brought to a conclusion. Instead, 17 hours later, the plot has advanced only a little. Mr. Weber owes his readers, and listeners, a tighter, better-constructed story, with some kind of end in sight, rather than the ponderous unwieldy tale he just published. If the series continues in this bloated way, I am going to be rooting for Manpower to win!
I agree with other reviewers that the quality of narration is way below that of previous volumes in the series. I generally like the story but Weber is way too wordy and his lengthy descriptions impair story flow. You have to be a dedicated Weber fan to wade through these massive books. After six volumes, we seem to have progressed only through 5-6 years of story. As Safehold is still only in the early stages of industrialization, it's going to take a long time for the planet to progress to interstellar capability at the present rate of progress. I know I'm not alone in urging the author to tighten up the stories and move towards a conclusion. I'm older than Weber and would like to see the story concluded sometime during my lifetime and his.
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