This is the first audible book that I didn't finish and I have over 300 books in my library. Almost all the characters are utterly one-dimensional. The outcome of the 'war' is a foregone conclusion because one side has complete technological superiority and the other side is utterly evil in the worst comic book sense. Everything that the protagonists do works splendidly while everything that the antagonists do blows up in their faces. It makes you wonder how such idiots managed to maintain themselves in power for as long as they did. Webber is no Patrick O'Brian but his naval battles are fairly well scripted, EXCEPT for the fact that you know exactly how they are going to turn out. When it gets to the point where you're rooting for the villains, it's time to put the book aside.
I can see that I'm in the minority here; most people liked this book a lot. I found the characters flat and often annoying. Not one member of the crew was even a smidgen different from when we first met him or her. The "sex" scenes sophomoric and largely metaphoric (a pupating larva?, really?) The scientific assumptions were so outrageous as to prevent the most avid science fiction/fantasy fan from suspending their web of disbelief. Normally I love a good space opera - Kevin Anderson or Peter Hamilton hold my attention for multiple books and leave me wishing for more. In this series, however, it's one and done.
I liked this book; I really did. I just wish it had an ending. Instead, it stops in the middle of .... Get the picture? Instead of being honest and charging two credits for a twelve-hour book, they charged one credit for half a book. Too bad, because the story is pretty well-written. There's one gratuitous serial-killer subplot that takes you down a dead end, but the main narrative is an interesting take on the Frankenstein legend - a reversal of roles and a hypothetical look at what the good doctor might be creating had he been a 21st century mad scientist. Well, I guess I'll go to the library and return the new George R R Martin book and reserve the second book in this series. Don't get mad; borrow.
The premise is quite original; placing an historical novel in the future is a nice twist. The problems I have with the book are twofold: first, the characters are terribly one-dimensional. The first reviewer references George R.R. Martin's "A Game of Thrones", but Martin knows how to build characters of startling complexity. They begin as villians and become, gradually, heroic - or vice versa. Weber's characters are nearly comedically bad or disgustingly good. They have no crises that alter their personalities and I nearly found myself cheering for the wrong side at the end. The second problem is that despite Weber's attempt to make the odds seem overwhelmingly against the protaginists, it is painfully clear that there is no way in the (new) world that they will so much as work up a sweat utterly defeating their enemies. There is virtually no suspense; nothing hangs in the balance. Still, the anti-technical society, the theocratic rulers and the detail in which the world (as opposed to the characters) is rendered give me at least some hope for the next installment.
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