Originally posted at FanLit.
I finished listening to the audio version of The Bone Doll’s Twin, the first in Lynn Flewelling’s fantasy epic THE TAMIR TRIAD, around midnight a few days ago. Instead of going to bed, like normal people might, I immediately downloaded book two, The Hidden Warrior, and listened for a couple more hours. That’s how much I was involved in this story about a young girl who doesn’t know she’s magically hidden in the body of a boy.
Tobin, who’s really a girl, has had a difficult childhood. When he was born, his uncle, the king of Skala, was covertly killing off the royal women and girls because a prophecy says that the land must have a queen as ruler. King Erius had gained his throne through treachery and he intends to keep it. Tobin’s parents asked a magician to hide their newborn daughter, but they didn’t realize what kind of dark magic they were getting into. The cost was heavy and now Tobin’s mother has gone mad and Tobin’s twin brother is an evil ghost. On top of that, Tobin’s family has moved to their country estate because they fear that the king’s magicians might be able to detect the cover up. Tobin is an odd child already, so it doesn’t help that he’s being raised so far from noble society. His father and the magicians who help him must mold Tobin into someone worthy to take the throne someday.
These days I don’t have as much patience as I used to for long epic fantasies involving prophecies and boys coming of age, so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying The Bone Doll’s Twin so much. Lynn Flewelling’s writing style is pleasant and her story gently moves along at a pace that’s leisurely without becoming dull, most comparable perhaps to Robin Hobb’s FARSEER saga. There is a large cast of male and female, young and old, magical and normal, common and noble characters who are well developed, not simply stock characters. It helps that we see the story from several of their perspectives, not just Tobin’s.
A main theme in The Bone Doll’s Twin is gender identity and Flewelling handles this very well. While Tobin, who doesn’t know he’s a girl, wants to be a famous warrior like his father, and is successfully working toward that goal, he has a softer side, too, which he thinks is a weakness and fears to show others. He sleeps with a doll but we’re not really sure if that’s because he’s a girl and it’s natural for him to like dolls, or if the doll is a connection to his mother who made it. Similarly, he loves to spend his time building a model of the capitol city, a pursuit that could be seen as either a masculine or feminine hobby. While we see hints of Tobin’s feminine side, it’s all tantalizingly ambiguous so far. Things will begin to look different when Tobin reaches puberty in the next book, The Hidden Warrior.
I’m listening to the audio version of THE TAMIR TRIAD which was produced by Audible Frontiers and expertly narrated by Victor Bevine. Lynn Flewelling reads her introduction to the book. As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I immediately downloaded and started listening to The Hidden Warrior when I finished The Bone Doll’s Twin. This is a story that’s worth my time.
Originally posted at FanLit.
Atticus O’Sullivan, the 2000 year old druid who looks like he’s 22, has just pissed off a bunch of Old Norse gods (for details, read Hammered) and now he must go into hiding. It’s a good time for that because what he really wants to do is spend the next 12 years training his gorgeous and smart apprentice, Granuaile. Fortunately his werewolf lawyer can fix up some new identities, but first he has to fake his own death so the gods will stop hunting him, and then he needs to do a favor for Coyote, the Navajo trickster god.
Of course, this doesn’t go as easily as he hopes. The favor that wily Coyote demands involves befriending an elemental that Atticus doesn’t know, transferring a vein of gold to a Native American reservation, sabotaging a coal mining company, fighting off some scary skinwalkers, and battling some “locusts of unusual size.” And he’s also a little worried about the new vampires who’ve moved into the Phoenix area after his friend Leif was injured in Asgard.
During all the mayhem we learn a little more about Atticus’s past — there’s a lot of it, so Hearne doles it out a little at a time in each novel. Specifically, in Tricked we learn about why he came to the New World, how he killed Bigfoot in the Florida Everglades, and how some of his charms and tattoos work. We also learn more about who Coyote is and where he came from.
Readers will be happy to know that Oberon and Granuaile are back in Tricked. They stayed home during the outing to Asgard in Hammered. Granuaile is looking pretty and acting sassy, and Oberon, everyone’s favorite Irish Wolfhound, plays a prominent role in Tricked and earns a lot of sausage and bacon snacks. Both of these characters provide plenty of comic relief.
I’ve been listening to the audiobook versions of THE IRON DRUID CHRONICLES. Mostly I love Luke Daniels’ narration, though this time I think he went a little overboard with Oberon. A lot of the time he ended up sounding like Scooby Doo. I forgive him.
If you’re new to THE IRON DRUID CHRONICLES, I recommend starting at the beginning with Hounded. This is a great series; it’s got a perfect pace, charming characters, pleasing prose, and just the right amount of humor. At the end of Tricked it feels like a major change is coming as Atticus and Granuaile are finally (we assume) able to settle down to get Granuaile trained. The next novel, Trapped (that’s an ominous title, isn’t it?), takes place 12 years later but there’s a novella called Two Ravens and One Crow which takes place between Tricked and Trapped which fans will not want to miss.
Originally posted at FanLit:
Victorious is the sixth and last book in Jack Campbell’s original LOST FLEET series. (If you haven’t read the previous books, you’ll want to read them before reading this review.)
Captain Black Jack Geary and the Alliance fleet have finally arrived, battered and bruised, to their home in the Alliance system and Geary’s feet touch ground for the first time in 100 years. Not surprisingly, the Alliance senate is leery of Geary (ugh, that rhyme!) and suspect that he may be planning a coup. But all he wants to do is deliver the ominous news from space about the aliens who’ve been driving the Syndic-Alliance war all this time. Surely they have bad intentions toward the human races they’ve been manipulating.
So, after only a brief respite, Captain Geary, Tanya Desjani, Victoria Rione, and many of the other officers of the Alliance fleet, head back out in space to end the war with the Syndics and then to deal with an alien race that they know almost nothing about. This time many of their crew are newbies who are ill-prepared for war and who don’t understand the new ways that Geary has brought to the military. (Or, I should say, the old ways that Geary has brought back to the military.) Geary can’t completely trust them, but he can’t afford to offend them either. There’s a sensitive balance.
Well, from the title of the book, we all know how it’s going to end, but the journey is what we’re interested in. How can Geary end the war? What are the aliens like and what do they want? Can he stop them? Is Michael Geary still alive, and if so does his survival depend on what Black Jack does? What about Victoria Rione’s missing husband? Will Geary and Tanya end up together? Will Geary be able to have a relationship with his grandniece? Some of these questions will be answered in Victorious, some I suspect are answered in the spin-off series, and some we may never know…
I’ll wrap up my review of the LOST FLEET series by summing up my main impressions. This is an engaging story with a great protagonist, a few likeable secondary characters (though they are not as interesting or as well fleshed out as Black Jack Geary is), an exciting but often repetitive plot that occasionally strays into unbelievable territory when our characters are able to anticipate the enemies’ plans, and a touch of appealing humor. It would have benefitted by having is length reduced by about a third. I slightly resent that I had to shell out money for six books when I feel like it should have been only four books long, but based on reviews at Amazon and Goodreads, most readers were happy to do so.
I read the audio version of THE LOST FLEET which was produced by Brilliance Audio and wonderfully narrated by Christian Rummel. One thing I have neglected to mention in my previous reviews are Jack Campbell’s (John G. Hemry’s) delightful introductions to the book. These are short information-filled pieces in which he may answer a question from a reader which gives us insight into some aspect of his creation of the story. Often he compares his created world with his experience or knowledge of the modern American military. For example, in the introduction to Victorious, he mentions that readers have asked why his spaceships don’t have back-up power generators and then goes on to explain how and why they’re often not included in current designs for military equipment. I enjoyed these little nuggets of information. If you’re going to read THE LOST FLEET, I highly recommend the audio version.
Originally posted at FanLit:
In Relentless, book 5 of Jack Campbell’s LOST FLEET series, Captain Black Jack Geary and the Alliance fleet are jumping through a Syndic star system, trying to evade the Syndics, as usual, when they happen to be in a position from which they can rescue some Alliance POWs from one of the Syndic planets. Here the Alliance force sees the consequences of their past honorable behavior which Captain Geary has insisted upon, despite earlier protests from many in his fleet. Their good deeds are bearing fruit.
Because of this, most of the other captains now trust Geary completely and some of the more reluctant ones are starting to buy in. Unfortunately, Geary himself is feeling very insecure and is sometimes paralyzed by fear of failure. He’s also still dealing with a few secret saboteurs who clearly don’t want him returning home in glory. While some of his colleagues are ready to crown Geary emperor, a few would like him out of the picture and they are willing to sacrifice ships and personnel to make that happen.
Another problem is the discovery that the fleet is being hunted by a massive Syndic reserve flotilla. Where have the Syndics been keeping all these ships and what are they for, if not for fighting the current war with the Alliance? And then, of course, there are the imploding hypernet gates, which have everyone feeling a little twitchy.
On a personal level, Geary is still dealing with the jealous rivalry between the captain of the flagship and Madam Co-President. (I’m a little annoyed at how silly these women are acting.) Another woman enters his life in this installment, too — Captain Jane Geary, his grandniece. He’d like to have an avuncular relationship with Jane, but she is reluctant (for good reason) to get too close. By watching her, Geary can see what it was like to grow up in a society that’s been at war for 100 years — a society where her own granduncle was the war’s greatest hero.
As usual for the LOST FLEET books, Relentless offers plenty of military action, epic space battles, a cool ground war, clever intelligence operations, political intrigue, interesting ethical considerations, and social commentary. As I’ve said in my past couple of reviews of the LOST FLEET books, this series could have been condensed considerably. While the plot progresses in Relentless, there is a lot of repetition and the plot uses many of the same elements we’ve seen before. Important things happen, so it’s a necessary installment (all of them are) but I can’t help but feel that I’m being milked. Fortunately, I enjoy Black Jack Geary’s company, so the feeling isn’t too aversive.
Readers who have been engrossed in the story so far and just want to hang out with Geary and the fleet will be pleased with Relentless. I’m happy, however, that the series is ending (sort of) in the next book, Victorious. (There are spin-off series that continue the story.)
Just an aside: I’m not sure what’s up with the cover art for this series. Most of the covers show Captain Geary on the ground with some kind of big weapon. These scenes never happen in the books. He doesn’t carry big weapons around and his feet rarely touch the ground outside of a space ship.
Originally posted at FanLit.
Black Jack Geary, the crew of the flagship Dauntless, and the other ships of the Alliance fleet are still wandering around in enemy territory, trying to get home (and reminding me a bit of that stupid show I loved when I was a kid: Lost in Space). They’re worried about their stores of fuel, food and the material they need to create weapons. They’re also worried about the Syndicate fleets, but they’ve been successful enough so far that the Syndics are equally afraid of them. In Valiant, there are more Syndics to fight, civilians to rescue, and sabotage to discover. The Alliance fleet will also witness the terrifying collapse of a Syndicate hypernet gate and learn the truth about their suspicions of an alien presence that may be influencing the war from afar.
Personally Geary is still dealing with some treacherous ship captains and he must make some hard decisions about how to handle them. He also has a problem with the women in his life — co-president Victoria Rione and Tanya Desjani, captain of Dauntless. Up to this point I mostly appreciated Campbell’s depiction of the women in his space fleet, but now they’re starting to act unprofessional. For such strong women, they sure can be catty!
Overall I continue to enjoy Jack Campbell’s LOST FLEET series. Valiant is the fourth book and while some of it is repetitive in both language and plot, and while some of the plot is really far-fetched (most of that having to do with how they manage to guess the intentions of their enemies and the aliens) it does serve to increase tension as we find out about the aliens and the potential danger in the hypernet gates. The romantic jealousies add emotional drama, though I could have done without some of that (or at least I would have preferred for the women not to be so silly about it).
Tanya Desjani is given more development in this installment — we’re finally shown some agreeable aspects of her personality. When we first met her she was rather bland. Her two main personality characteristics seemed to be blind devotion to Captain Geary and an almost bloodthirsty lust for battle. Now that she is a potential love interest for Geary, Campbell has decided to give us someone to love. The devotion has been toned down — Tanya will now offer her opinions and will display skepticism or even disapproval of some of Geary’s plans. She has also acquired a touch of snark and a much-needed sense of humor.
Speaking of humor, there were actually times I laughed aloud while reading Valiant, and I’m not sure that has happened before in this series. Campbell is most funny when he’s poking fun at navy officers, intelligence officers, engineers, and Marines.
I’m moving on to the fifth book, Relentless, but I can’t shake the feeling that this series should have been condensed to a total of four rather than six books.
Originally posted at FanLit:
Zoe’s Tale, the fourth book in John Scalzi’s OLD MAN’S WAR series, is the same story we were told in book three, The Last Colony, except it’s from Zoe’s perspective. Zoe is the 17-year-old daughter of the traitorous scientist Charles Boutin. Jane Sagan and John Perry adopted Zoe when she was a small child and they’ve been farming on one of Earth’s colonies for years. Now, though, the family is off to lead the settlers of a new colony called Roanoke (uh-oh). When they get there they realize they’ve been duped and life on Roanoke has a lot more going on than just terraforming a new planet.
While I was reading The Last Colony there were several times I wondered “what’s Zoe doing?” or “what does Zoe think about this?” or even “is Zoe the sweet innocent teenager her parents think she is?” I guess John Scalzi knew I was wondering those things, because the sole purpose of Zoe’s Tale is to let us know what Zoe was doing and thinking all this time. Thus we hear the same plot again — there isn’t really any plot progression — but we do get to know Zoe and we get information about the events that only Zoe experienced in The Last Colony. Mostly these occur at the end of the story when Zoe has a major role in saving Roanoke colony.
I liked getting to know Zoe in this novel, but I found the lack of new plot to be disappointing. I also was not convinced by Scalzi’s characterization of Zoe, mainly because she and her teenage friends banter with each other as if John Scalzi was writing their dialogue. They’re just too clever to be believed.
My favorite characters in Zoe’s Tale were Hickory and Dickory, the aliens who revere Zoe’s father and act as Zoe’s bodyguards. Their lack of a sense of humor, literal interpretation of human speech, and deadpan delivery of their lines is charming. I listened to Tavia Gilbert’s narration and she does a wonderful job with them (and Zoe and the rest of the characters, too). Hickory and Dickory also supply some background information about one of the alien races that I hope we will see more of in a future installment.
If you’re not interested in a sometimes angsty teenage girl’s perspective of the events that occurred in The Last Colony, there’s no reason to read Zoe’s Tale. If you haven’t read The Last Colony you could read Zoe’s Tale instead — you’d be caught up with the story so far. I don’t know if Scalzi plans for Zoe to be protagonist in a future book. If she is, then I’ll be glad I read this story of her childhood and teenage years.
I’m giving Zoe’s Tale 3.5 stars for those who haven’t read The Last Colony. In that case it’s an enjoyable novel with a lot of plot and some great characters. If you have read The Last Colony, I’d give this book a 3 star rating. It’s just not enough new plot.
Originally posted at FanLit:
In the second BEYONDERS book, Seeds of Rebellion, Jason has made it back to his own world after attempting to destroy the emperor Maldor in Lyrian, the parallel universe he accidentally stumbled into after being swallowed by a hippopotamus at the zoo. Jason is unhappy at home because Rachel is still stuck in Lyrian and being hunted by the bad guys. After doing some research on the internet, he discovers that Rachel’s parents are desperately trying to find her, but Jason feels like he can’t contact them or he’ll be a suspect in the crime. He’s afraid to tell anyone about Lyrian — people will just think he’s crazy and he might be institutionalized. That would make it impossible for him to do what he really wants to do — go back to Lyrian, let everyone know that the quest they were on is doomed, and tell Rachel how to get back to her parents. Meanwhile, he spends plenty of time exercising so that when he does get back, he’ll be fit enough to face all the trials he knows are coming.
Eventually Jason does manage to return to Lyrian with the important news. Then he and Rachel help to muster up a small force that is willing to risk rebelling against the emperor. There’s only a slight chance that they can succeed, but they have to take that chance. There’s no way that Maldor is going to let Jason and Rachel get back home, and the people of Lyrian have lived too long under a tyrant’s rule.
This time Jason meets some more of the weird mage-crafted races of Lyrian including a race of dwarves who turn into giants when the sun goes down. He explores secret tunnels, hears prophecies, loses his first sword fight, collects explosives, learns a lot about the history of Lyrian, eats some magic mushrooms, meets a beautiful princess, fights zombies, grows moss on his neck, and travels some harsh exotic terrain. Meanwhile, Rachel is beginning to acquire some magical talents of her own.
I mentioned in my review of the first BEYONDERS book, A World Without Heroes, that I appreciated Brandon Mull’s subtle messages for children. He again does a good job with this, showing us, for example, the consequences of addiction; the necessity of being wary of someone who you know has betrayed others and being careful about who you can trust; the benefits of working as a team and being reliable when it comes to doing your part.
I particularly like how Mull’s child heroes aren’t doing everything themselves. They’re working as small but significant parts of a team that is mostly adults. They ask smart questions, anticipate future problems, and contribute meaningfully while respecting the skills and wisdom of their adult companions.
Some of the plot of Seeds of Rebellion drags (there’s a lot of travelling) but young readers who enjoy spending time with Jason and Rachel probably won’t notice and will be anxious to move on to book 3, Chasing the Prophecy. This is a solid addition to the BEYONDERS series. I recommend the audio version narrated by Jeremy Bobb.
Originally posted at FanLit.
The Ghost Brigades is the second novel in John Scalzi’s OLD MAN’S WAR saga. It focuses on the Ghost Brigades — the Special Forces soldiers that the Colonial Union (CU) creates by genetic engineering and who have special powers because of the BrainPal computers in their heads. They’re born in adult bodies and are rapidly assimilated into the Special Forces, though they are a little immature because of their mental age and they lack some of the personality and social skills that come from interaction with “real-born” people in a normal environment. The Ghost Brigades give the regular CU soldiers the heebee-jeebees.
In this story the Colonial Union has discovered the existence of a traitorous scientist, Charles Boutin, who has faked his death by cloning himself and has aligned himself with three alien species who plan to wipe out the humans. Part of his motivation is that he blames the CU for the death of his daughter Zoe who was on a planet the CU blew up. Boutin is helping the aliens by giving them information about Special Forces’ BrainPals. This will allow them to have such technology themselves and perhaps find a way to hack into the BrainPals of the Special Forces soldiers.
This is not good; Boutin must be stopped. When Special Forces discover a source for Boutin’s DNA and his consciousness which he uploaded for safe keeping, they decide to clone him so they can have a soldier who may have Boutin’s memory and who may think like Boutin. (They realize that this could go badly awry.) And so they create Jared Dirac and it’s up to Jared to stop his “father.” Commander Jane Sagan (who we remember from Old Man’s War), is skeptical and worried that instead of catching a traitor, they may be creating another one.
The Ghost Brigades is an exciting story with lots of action, cool ideas, and some of John Scalzi’s humor (but not as much as in Old Man’s War). Scalzi takes the opportunity to make us think about nature vs. nurture, free will, the role of the environment on personality formation, the ethics of cloning, the role of consciousness in the arts, and the relationship between brain, mind and soul.
Scalzi also decides to throw some mud in the water. At this point in the OLD MAN’S WAR story, it’s becoming clear that war is a murky business. Are we supposed to be rooting for the Colonial Union? They’ve got some seriously questionable ethics and our villain is somewhat sympathetic. Has Earth been mistreating her soldiers and/or holding back human technological development? I look forward to learning more in the next book, The Last Colony and its companion, Zoe’s Tale.
I’m reading the audio version of OLD MAN’S WAR which is mostly narrated by William Dufris who, as usual, gives a stellar performance. I recommend this series on audio.
Originally posted at FanLit:
Hex and the City is the fourth novel in Simon R. Green’s NIGHTSIDE series. I’ve been listening to NIGHTSIDE on audio lately because I’ve been doing a lot of home improvements, especially painting, and NIGHTSIDE is such an easy read that I don’t ever have to stop and rewind, which is something you don’t want to do when you’ve got paint all over your hands. Audio readers know what I mean.
In Hex and the City, John Taylor is moving on to his next case in the seedy and decadent Nightside where it’s always 3 AM. This time Lady Luck has hired him to discover the origins of the Nightside, something Taylor wanted to do anyway. During his investigation he meets some people/creatures who were fundamentally involved in the establishment of the Nightside. He begins to confirm his suspicion that his own mother, whom he doesn’t even remember, is someone rather important. He’s not sure what she is or what it means for his own status in the Nightside, but the more he learns, the more nervous he gets.
The NIGHTSIDE books are quick, easy, and fun reads. Their strength is Green’s setting: the Nightside is bursting with flavor. It’s the kind of place you wish you could view in person — through three feet of warded Kevlar-enhanced plexiglass. Life is both dark and colorful in the Nightside, and it’s brutal, too. Simon populates the Nightside with some crazy characters (many of whom you’ve seen before, but not necessarily all together in one city). Each installment introduces a couple more of them and also lets us spend time with some of our old favorites. In Hex and the City we meet a succubus named Pretty Poison who falls in love with Sinner, the man who sold his soul for true love. Then there’s Madman, who was sane until he got a glimpse of what lies behind “reality,” and the Lamentation who is the God of Suicides. We didn’t get to see Razor Eddie, Dead Boy, or Shotgun Suzie in Hex and the City, but I feel certain that they’ll show up in a future installment.
After reading four NIGHTSIDE novels back to back, it’s obvious how repetitive the narrative and dialogue are. Green often uses the same words and phrases over and over. For someone who read the books as they came out originally, this may not be quite as noticeable, but even in the same book Green tends to use the same phrases repetitively. Of course this isn’t a series I’m reading for its “literary merit” but it’s also one of the reasons I can’t give it a higher rating. Another reason is Green’s tendency to put John in a situation that we’re told is absolutely hopeless and then to create a deux ex machina (usually in the form of one of his friend’s, or his own, heretofore unknown superpowers) to suddenly obliterate the unstoppable foe. Characters, places, and situations in the Nightside seem to constantly trump each other with their own outrageousness, making everything a bit over the top. Still, I’m looking forward to learning, along with John Taylor, more about the Nightside, his mother, and his own destiny.
I’m listening to Marc Vietor read the audiobook version, which was produced by Audible Frontiers. Vietor does a great job with all the characters. I like the audio so much that I’ve purchased the rest of the series at Audible.
Originally published at FanLit.
The Last Colony, the third book in John Scalzi’s OLD MAN’S WAR series, returns us to the perspective of John Perry, the “old man” hero of the first novel in the series, Old Man’s War. John Perry is only mentioned in the second novel, The Ghost Brigades, which told the story of how the cyborg Special Forces soldiers found and defeated the scientist Charles Boutin, a traitor to the Colonial Union. On that mission they also found Zoe, Boutin’s young daughter. Zoe has been adopted by Jane Sagan and John Perry and the little family has been farming on one of Earth’s colonies where John and Jane are the leaders.
Life is easy for them until the Colonial Union comes calling — they need leaders for a new colonization effort and John and Jane have been selected. This new colony (named Roanoke…. hmmmm… I think I wouldn’t have signed up for that) will be comprised of people from several different human worlds and John and Jane are responsible for its success. However, the Colonial Union hasn’t been completely honest with them. It will be a lot more dangerous than the members of Roanoke have been led to believe. They are being played as political pawns and they don’t realize it until it’s too late. And it’s not just Roanoke that’s in danger, but the entire human race.
The Last Colony (I keep wanting to write “The Lost Colony”) has a different tone than Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades. It takes place mainly on a planet, rather than in space, and deals mostly with domestic and political matters rather than space battles and espionage. Some of the political dialogue between characters we don’t know is dull, especially if you’re hoping for lasers and explosions, but Scalzi continues to explore the interesting theme of access to information and the problems that occur when the government controls the press. When and how should governments control information? That’s always a relevant topic, isn’t it?
Like its predecessors, The Last Colony features John Scalzi’s engaging writing style and ultra-competent well-developed characters. Some of these are characters we already know and love (John and Jane) one is a character we are happy we’re getting to know (Zoe) and some are new characters that Scalzi makes it easy for us to love (e.g., the Mennonite leader, Hickory and Dickory) or hate (e.g., the journalists). And some are there to show us that our first impressions aren’t always correct.
I mentioned in my review of The Ghost Brigades that the political situation was getting murky and it gets even murkier here. It is not clear to us (or to many of the characters) whose side we should be on. Readers may find it discomfiting to realize they are having trouble sympathizing with their home planet. It may be even more discomfiting to realize that Scalzi’s story doesn’t have to stretch the imagination too far. Sometimes “human nature” is not a pretty thing, but it’s what we know. What if someday we find ourselves needing to interact with beings who have a non-human nature?
You can probably read The Last Colony without having read the previous books, Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades, but you’ll have some catching up to do. It would be better to wait on this one until you’ve read its predecessors. They’re both great books, anyway. The fourth book in the OLD MAN’S WAR series is Zoe’s Tale which tells the story of Roanoke colony from Zoe’s perspective. It’s mostly the exact same plot as The Last Colony with a few side adventures for Zoe. If you’re only interested in the plot progression, you can skip Zoe’s Tale. If you’re interested in getting to know Zoe, you should read it.
I’m listening to William Dufris narrate OLD MAN’S WAR. I think he’s amazing. Macmillan Audio produced this installment.
Originally posted at FanLit.
In Courageous, the third book in Jack Campbell’s LOST FLEET series, the Alliance fleet is still wandering from star system to star system, trying to get back home by some path the Syndics won’t predict. It seems like a hopeless situation, but the legendary Black Jack Geary, who’s been revived out of cold sleep after his suicidal mission 100 years ago, is just the hero they need. He’s proved himself so capable so far that some of his commanders want to help him secure a dictatorship when they get home, and others just want to get rid of him. Geary could decide to be a dictator, get rid of the people who are causing him problems and do things the way he thinks they should be done, but then how is he different from their enemies?
Geary isn’t as confident in his own abilities, however. He’s still uncomfortable in this new military where the pursuit of self-glory is tolerated and the best commanders are put on the ships most likely to be destroyed. No wonder discipline is shattered and the war has been going on for so long. Geary is starting to understand how the Alliance fleet got this way. He’s also learning more about their enemies — the Syndics — and the possibility that an unknown alien race may be manipulating both the Alliance and the Syndics. A scary thought.
Meanwhile Geary’s lover, Victoria Rione, who used to be reserved, reasonable, and icy, has turned into a fickle drama queen. This subplot is tedious and exasperating and it feels contrived to elevate the tension. It’s clear that Campbell is setting things up for a romantic change of venue for Black Jack, though our hero isn’t aware of it yet. After listening to Victoria rant and rave for so long, readers will be eager for a change.
I love the hero of the LOST FLEET series — Captain Geary is awesome and Campbell has done a great job with his development over the series so far. Geary is what keeps me reading LOST FLEET because I don’t much like anyone else in the book, or at least I don’t know them well enough to like them.
At this point, though, I’m starting to wonder why the series needs six books. It could have been cut in half. The truth is that even though I like hanging out with Black Jack Geary, not much new happens in Courageous. They’re wandering around at the beginning and they’re still wandering around at the end. In the last chapter of Courageous, Geary and Victoria make some really wild speculations about what might be happening with the alleged alien race and though I thought it was far-fetched that they would jump to those conclusions, I want to know what happens. Campbell leaves us with a cliffhanger that made me glad I’d already downloaded the next book, Valiant.
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