A fun read, kept me wanting my tired body to stop and finally get some rest but unwilling to wait for the next spellbinding chapter.
Straight out, I'm an avid Larson fan. However, the writing style of this novel was as other-worldly as the story lines of most of his other novels. Where in the past, the males took a commanding lead in more or less swashbuckling styles, Starfire reads like the were written by a new initiate of the SJW academy.
Seriously, every male was either a psychopathic killer or some love sick supporting character just waiting for some woman to lead him around. Even the rare romantic moments come off stilted and seem more obligatory than meaningful.
The five primary female characters (3 scientists, a DHS director and female astronaut pilot) were all strong-willed and strong minded individuals who wouldn't take crap from anyone. Even the male mission leader was almost relegated to cook status.
I have nothing against strong female characters but these were so in-your-face bad ass it was laughable to make it through most of their parts.
I'm left thinking that most of it had been written by co-author Thomas LeMay and Larson giving his name to it like a knock-off Kinkade painting.
No interesting characters, plodding and rambling. Reminds me of the last season of Heros where everyone was simply sitting around talking about this or that.
This is by far the best novel I've purchased this year and one that I would place on my top ten Epic Fantasy list. The story arc is new and novel and the coterie of primary characters are well defined and interesting in themselves. There's lots of intrigue, subtle and surprising plot twists and the burgeoning love interests, with one even having all the markings of a tragic pairing. I would place this writing style on par with Raven's Shadow; albeit, with a completely different story arc.
This is my first introduction of James Islington and am very impressed with his ability to unfold a story in bits and pieces but do it in such a way to keep the readers interest. What can I day more about Michael Kramer that hasn't been better said by many before me. In my opinion, he "owns" the Epic Fantasy narration genre.
I will definitely be keeping my eye out for Book 2 of this trilogy.
On finishing Planet Strike, I've come to the conclusion that this series is not a parody of other similar novels but closer to that of a mashup or blending of two (Star Force series and Halo Saga) and, possibly a touch of a third (Pandora's Star).
Warning: Spoiler Alert!
The Metal World (portal planet) is a completely unnatural planet, similar to Onyx (Halo: Ghost of Onyx), that is inhabited by Xenokillers (Kargs) whose primary objective is to kill all other sentient beings, period. This is more like the Primes in Pandora's Star but could also apply to the Sentinels in Halo. Also, part of the portal planet includes a Dyson Sphere but in this case more closely aligns with Ghost of Onyx than one in Pandora's Star. The top alien fighters, Lokhar, are a prideful fanatical species much like the Halo Elites which seem to combine two of the Halo Covenant hierarchies, High Prophets and Elite warriors; where the prophets are the ones who are charged with interpreting the Forerunner artifacts. The main Lokhar warrior, Prince Venturie, is similar to the Halo Arbiter in that he is Creed's primary Lokhar nemesis but there are many differences such that it's clearly not a close match. One of the artifacts is a sphere-shaped floating 1000s year old circuit-addled AI, EP/SRT2000, much like Halo's Halo 343 Guilty Spark or Mendicant Bias. Lastly, the description of the Lokhar Indomitable crash closely resembles that of the Halo Pillar of Autumn.
With that out of the way, I still highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading an entertaining swashbuckler space opera novel, even if they've read the other similar novels. Yes, there are glaring overlaps to other novels but there are more than enough differences to give it its own unique feel.
I honestly don't know if Assault Troopers is a massive, unashamed knock-off of previous SciFi works or a subtle parody mashup of all of them.
Warning: Spoiler Alert:
What with a Forerunner artifact (Halo), Overmen Creed vs. Col. Riggs, select multicultural troops, e.g. Creed's Coterie vs. Riggs Pigs, untrustworthy/eccentric AI bots N7 vs. Marvin (Star Force Series parallels), hollowed-out asteroid allusion (Troy Rising) it would be easy to call this a knock-off and feel justified in doing so.
However, while there are similarities between Creed and Riggs there are also enough differences that leaves me scratching my head. Creed is a street smart ruffian whose prior life was traveled on a road leading to one violent experience to another; whereas, Riggs was that of a cultured farmer/professor. Creed's character is more crude than Riggs but, interestingly, more chivalrous than Riggs' womanizing predilections.
Then there is the plethora of movie references Get Smart, Avengers, Die Hard, &c, which are all examples of where protagonists just barge ahead recklessly against insurmountable odds much the same as Creed.
In all, though, I did find this an entertaining story and even eventually acquired a liking to many of the primary characters. As such, I plan to get the next two books to see when Heppner is really taking us.
Lastly, why did images of Independence Day (Mad Jack Creed vs. Russell Casse/Randy Quaid) when his dad approached the first alien ship?
I've read many a SciFi novel where there are many extrapolated scientific theories to discuss things like FTL drives, plasma cannons, lasers and the like but this was the first one I've read where the novel weaved so many references on applied physics, botany and plain old mechanical engineering needed to keep the stranded astronaut alive during one travail after another. And yet, the central character was so indomitable and down to Mars, uh, Earth that the use of all the arcane scientific jargon wasn't a distraction.
I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and also enjoyed the narrator's ample talent in his performance.
One of the most entertaining novels I've experienced in a very long time. The protagonist, Prince Jalan, is everything a reader would hope for in a cad. He's a coward, liar, womanizer, drinker and seemingly a fool. Unbeknownst to him, he is about to be thrust into quest with a Viking that is his polar opposite and is unable to weasel his way out of it. While there are a number of dark moments, some of them sadly poignant, I couldn't help chuckling at Jalan's reaction to anything that would require him to take responsibility or, gods forbid, place himself in danger.
Excellent writing by Mark Lawrence and superb narration by Tim Gerard Reynolds.
Robert Buettner is very knowledgeable on the military SciFi genre and able to keep the entire series entertaining. MacLeod Andrews's narration was obviously well rehearsed and came off professionally done. It's often hard to find an audiobook where the narrator can move between multiple male and female characters convincingly and he pulled it off splendidly.
The last book of the series, Balance Point, was a bit off from the other two but still well worth the time invested in it; along with tying up the loose ends left open from the first two books.
This saga is my first introduction to Dave Duncan's writing and Mil Nicholson' narration skills and I've found both to be surprise and a very pleasurable listening experience. My pleasure with this set of novels is only measured slightly more than my excitement of finding another author who has a masters level in writing skills AND has many other novels that I am looking forward to exploring.
** SPOILER ALERT **
Note: My only unfavorable comment is that of how long he stretched out the whole unrequited love aspect of the story. Yes, I know it ends up being a central theme but it still seemed a bit tiresome at the end. Even so, it is only a very small complaint and nothing so significant as to dissuade any potential reader from enjoying all the many other wonderful aspects of this novel.
PS: Duncan has an uncanny way of writing sentences in such a way that one often doesn't catch the mirth hidden in the metaphors and similes until they are midway into the following sentence. So entertaining that I'd find myself chuckling to myself, much to the bewilderment of people next to me.
I purchased this book after listening to the sample recording, thinking it was either a Sci/Fi or Fantasy novel and was disappointed after finding out it was an "Undead" novel many chapters in.
With that said, M.R.Carey is an excellent writer and Finty Williams was equally good at narrating the story.
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