Laughable plot in which the "hero" leads a group of former soldiers in a plot to kill politicians who refuse to balance the budget (along with one senator who revealed confidential information while drunk, leading to a military mission being compromised). This is right-wing propaganda in extreme form. The heros all love their guns -- anyone who is not a gun nut is of suspect character. Flynn's later novels -- the Mitch Rapp novels -- are enjoyable even for people who are not right wing zealots, although the political orientation of the writer is clear. Term limits, however, has too many rough edges -- and the plot does not make sense. In the final resolution somehow the deficit spending issue that prompted the initial assassinations is forgotten.
One of the characters in the book expresses a distaste for loose ends (near the end of the book). And this book is delightfully old-fashioned in that it ties up all the loose ends. Throughout the book various questions come up that puzzle the protagonist (and the book is written in the first person) but everything makes sense in the end. The structure is very logical and satisfying. There is room for a sequel (or an entire series) but the ending is a legitimate ending, not a cliffhanger.
On other points, the book is past-paced and engaging, but there are also opportunities to catch your breath and for the characters to talk, to think, and to become 3-dimensional figures instead of being cardboard cutouts. And the performance is very good. The book even has something of a moral lesson without being heavy-handed.
Very good book.
Jeff Gurner delivers another outstanding performance. And the science is quite interesting. Not many techno-thrillers or Sci-Fi books deal with the behaviour of ants. And the role of the ravens was also interesting. As for the plot, it was bit frenetic -- not much time to take a breath. The characters were okay although they did not really come alive for me. The main character -- Odin -- seems to be a fairly typical invincible and loyal special ops military guy. Still, anyone looking for an action-packed techno-thriller with main characters you can actually like and root for will not be disappointed.
The start was actually pretty good, but it quickly went downhill. A few minutes in some police get killed because of an unintentional "kill" command. This is supposed to be funny. I could not finish this book. Even satire has to allow the reader to get into the story but I could not get into this one. Not a very good tribute to Star Trek. Some people might enjoy the humor but I am not one of them.
This book fits nicely into a "good", "bad", and "ugly" framework.
1. The Good.
This is the first audiobook I have every purchased because I liked what the narrator did with another book. And I was not disappointed. Jeff Gurner is an excellent narrator.
The plot is original and interesting and contains a nice resolution of a traditional sci-fi paradox at the end. (I won't say which one so as to avoid spoilers.)
The ending was strong and gave me a lot to think about. This book actually has quite a lot of intellectual depth, although that does not come through until the end.
2. The Bad (or at least the "not so good").
The characters are so-so. Only two characters are anything more than props. The main character is introduced at the beginning as an ex-con who served significant time in jail and was definitely guilty. His character seemed kind of ambiguous and I did not realize until the end that this was intentional. The other main character -- a woman -- did not seem entirely plausible to me, but she was okay.
The book was non-stop action until the end. Some people might like this, but I found it a bit frenetic -- written for people with short attention spans. There is very little character development or relationship development.
The story has a mostly negative arc. Things start bad and generally get worse until shortly before the final resolution. There are some upticks along the way but, in general, the bad guys seem pretty much invincible until almost the end.
3. The Ugly
Shortly after the start we get a very unpleasant torture scene, For some reason torture seems to have become popular in modern sci-fi. And there is a lot of gratuitous violence throughout the book. I guess some people must like this, but if you prefer to do without graphic violence and senseless killing you might want to avoid this book.
I am writing a review primarily because I want to acknowledge the exceptional performance by Jeff Gurner. He uses a range of authentic-sounding accents and other vocal variations to create convincing and consistent differences between characters. Every sentence has the emphasis in the right place and every word seems to be correctly pronounced. And the pace is good. After listening to some subpar performances, this was very refreshing.
The story itself we pretty good. Daemon and Freedom TM are basically one story. The first half (Daemon) has a mostly negative arc -- things seem to get worse and worse -- whereas Freedom is more balanced, which I prefer. These novels have some philosophical depth as they pose questions about the nature of good and evil and raise the question of whether apparently bad actions can be justified by some greater good. This is not exactly an original question but it is well-handled as we see cases where the answer is obviously "no" and others where the answer is probably "yes".
I am not a big fan of urban fantasy -- where magic has somehow entered the modern world -- and where various magical creatures (dragons in this case) use cell phones, order pizza, and drink coffee. Still I enjoyed this book and would probably buy the next book in the series. The main character is good -- and he does experience some genuine character development. And his brother Bob and sister Jessica are also pretty good. But the main female character got a bit annoying -- implausibly focused on her own interests even when she is about to get herself and the hero killed. The performance was good. I especially liked the dragons with Russian accents.
I am old enough to remember when Sci-Fi was mostly upbeat, the characters were likable, and the plot made sense. This book recaptures that tradition. And the narration was good, much better than in other Sci-Fi series I have recently listened to. The book is not deep but if you want some enjoyable escapist Sci-Fi, this is a good choice. I hope Audible makes the rest of the series available soon.
The first two novels in the series have the "new beginning" theme, much like Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series, as the hero is exiled to the edge of a failing empire and sets about rebuilding a new and better civilization. I liked these books quite a lot. The third novel goes back in time to show us the details of the decline of the Terran Empire. I have three major reservations:
1. I suppose the decline of an empire is not likely to be pretty but I am guessing that few if any historical examples (and not many fictional ones) are as ugly as this one. It was pretty depressing reading (or listening) much of the time.
2. The author seems preoccupied with sexual abuse and sexual violence.
3. More so than Nuttall's other books this book seems dominated by a kind of "populist tea party" ideology in which government bureaucrats and journalists are uniformly bad and politicians are very bad. University students are lazy, naive and self-indulgent. But guns and "the right to bear arms" are good and marines are very good. Public schools are bad but anything that resembles home schooling or marine boot camp is good. This excessively simplistic ideology is emphasized and repeated throughout the book.
In addition to these concerns, I was disappointed in the performance. I have never heard so many instances in which the narrator puts the emphasis on the wrong word in a sentence. It was like he could not be bothered to actually understand the meaning of what he was reading.
There was also one other minor point that bothered me. I admit this is hard to believe for a successful writer of military science fiction, and maybe I am wrong, but Nuttall seems to have inverted the ranks of colonel and major, treating major as senior to colonel instead of the other way around.
On the other hand, the basic plot is quite good and the central relationship (between the marine heroine and the prince) provided some positive elements in the book.
If you liked the Apollo 13 movie (as I did) you should love this audiobook. It is the "man against nature" theme except the nature in question is on Mars, not on Earth. Most of the book consists of diary entries (or log entries) by one man who is stranded on Mars. The entries are both funny and gripping, and I appreciated the heavy dose of "real science" as the protagonist figures out how to survive on Mars and how to help with his rescue. And the voice performance was excellent. Loved this book.
This is the best audiobook I have listened to this year (and that is an embarrassingly large number of audiobooks). It fits into the science fiction category as it takes place in a distopian near future in which vast numbers of people retreat into an online multiplayer game that takes on the status of an alternate reality that is more important to many people than real life. This is also a coming of age novel focusing on a group of young people who learn about themselves and about each other while going through a harrowing online adventure. The third category is the "popular culture" genre as the heroes have to navigate an online game based on 1980s pop culture, especially popular "geek" culture. The combination is very original. This novel is a great nostalgia trip for anyone born between about 1950 and 1975 and is just a great adventure for anyone younger than that. And the performance is excellent.
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