Young prince travels with a gang of cutthroat mercenaries raping and pillaging through a war-torn world divided into a hundred tiny kingdoms all run by kings whose brutality is only surpassed by their cruelty and greed. So our hero is not really a likeable fellow, he is a little evil vengeful brat to be quite honest. But he is also at times a quite funny and not to mention a clever fellow. That and the fact that we are early on introduced to the event that made him such a monster helps us understand him somewhat, combined with the fact that everyone else seems like such complete bastards and we end up cheering for him anyway.
He is clearly traumatized, ensorcelled even, but he keep going. Brutally so. Now there isn’t really that much violence in this novel. Oh, they speak of violence all the time as they threaten each other or reminisce, but it is more a book about trauma and vengeful thoughts than and a true action novel. It is dark though, there is no hiding that. Dark and at times quite humorous:
“Most men have at least one redeeming feature. Finding one for Brother Rike requires a stretch. Is 'big' a redeeming feature?”
So the cover of this book is really misleading. It is not a military scifi with lots of action where Caine Riordan rains fire down upon his enemies from his combat drop ship. It is a thriller and a spy novel more than anything else. Think journalist Jack Ryan in space. It is a bit slow at times and Caine is almost always the smartest person in whatever room he happens to step into, but I liked it regardless.
The characters, even the ones I happened to strongly dislike, were believable, with real motivation and the story was intriguing enough that by the end of book two I found myself quickly searching for when book three would come out.
So, I didn't like this audiobook at all. I found myself pacing back and forth in frustration while listening to it; I was so poorly invested in the characters that I was bored out of my mind during moments that should have been the most engaging. Combat, romance or whatever, I just wanted to get it done and over with.
In addition I thought the narration was terrible. I am not actually sure if it even is the narrator or if they did something strange to the audio during the editing. I have nothing against a gruff whiskey voice, but this seemed like a parody of one to me.
Small plus for taking genuine Navy SEAL training and using that as an inspiration for a scifi novel, I think that’s a great idea. I just don’t feel like the book holds up regardless. I would instead recommend Old Man’s War, Armor, Fire with Fire, The Warrior’s Apprentice, Altered Carbon just to name a couple of different Scifi books off of the top of my head.
If you enjoyed the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher you might enjoy this book too. It has its flaws; I didn’t much care for the badguy and I found myself cursing Marcus’s stupidity at the end, but all in all it was thoroughly enjoyable listen with an excellent narrator (apart from some horrible sound effects in the end.) I look forward to more from this author and will make sure look him up on Goodreads.
So I don't bother with anthologies. They are always filled with maybe one story I would like to read and 4 or 5 I do not care about at all, or even worse a couple of stories I have already read for free on the authors website. Anthologies have always seemed to me like something a publisher would do for the sole purpose of making monies and not really something authors would do to release their scribblings (and make money).
But this, this I can get behind. 50 cents for 2 hours of Scalzi. Sign me up
Just make sure you do NOT spend a credit on this, that would be a terrible idea.
Oh yeah, the story is ok too. It is more than ok for 50 cents anyway.
So reading the Publisher’s summary you could be excused for thinking this would be some sort of Gary Stu coming-of-age military story that we all know from before. Well, it is not. And really it is very light on the whole science part of the fiction too. I mean there are space ships, but just as a means of travel and there are planets, but just so that the story can have a location to take place. That is it.
And the “trumped-up charges” part, yeah that’s 5 sentences in this book, maximum. So what is this book then? Well, it is the story of a young man who goes off to war where he experiences combat for the very first time. We don’t really know a lot about him, but we know he is afraid. That is all that this book does, it describes the journey of a young man from his home base into combat and through it. And there is quite a lot of combat, which was exciting enough, and I really did enjoy the fact that our hero is not in fact extraordinary. The downside to this is that not being extraordinary and without much of a backstory to him, our hero is rather bland. I was hoping for “Armor” and I think I got the somewhat honest descriptions of a soldier set in a science fiction universe. Fair enough.
The narration was decent, but one or two of the voices he did was, in my opinion, absolutely dreadful.
“Ivan you idiot!” is a phrase that we have come to love over the years. But Ivan is not really an idiot, he is no Miles for sure, but what he really lacks is not intelligence but rather the driving ambition that keeps Miles going like a deranged Duracell bunny. Instead Ivan has something else, an acute sense of the political ramifications that would fall on his head if he just happened to not be an idiot. He has in a sense a vast driving anti-ambition. Ivan is the second in line to the imperial throne, he is the son-in-law to the almighty Simon Illyan and not to mention his connections to all kinds of powerful people including an immensely political, protective and meddling mother. Something other powerful people would exploit in a heartbeat if they could and if Ivan would only let them. So Ivan the Idiot has over the years developed his own unique way of dealing with all these issues when really all he wants to do is live a quiet ordinary life. In the rooms and on the bridges of the starships where the Big Decisions are handled Ivan has made standing around (with selective amnesia and attention disorder) like the wall-hangings or a part of the décor into an art form. Either that, or solve the whole problem by doing his best to oversleep that day.
This is the story of how Ivan, without Miles’s help I might add, gets into trouble, falls in love and much more when his allergy to intrigue clashes with the old Vor-honor. After all, what can a Vor Lord do when there are damsels in distress about, gorgeous ones at that, with unfortunately a whole lot of familial and familiar baggage themselves?
As David mentioned the narrator makes this, which is a pretty thin story to begin with, hard to continue to listen to for longer periods of time. I find myself pausing and switching over to music on my ipod just to not get overly frustrated.
As the title says, this book was surprisingly entertaining. I mean it is only about 5+ hours long and it you expect a literary masterpiece you are in for a disappointment. That being said it delivers exactly what the description says; a witty and humorous glimpse into the life of a “super” villain stuck on the right (or should that be wrong) side of the fence.
It starts out decently and the concept is quite clever and funny, but the dialogue is doing my head in. The book has these pockets of time where the main characters stand around discussing events in an effort for us and them to understand them. Fair enough really, but the way it is presented is driving me spare.
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I just can’t take it. Especially not in audio format.
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