Stephanie Harrington had always expected to be a forest ranger on her homeworld of Meyerdahl until her parents relocated to the frontier planet of Sphinx in the far distant Star Kingdom of Manticore. It should have been the perfect new home - a virgin wilderness full of new species of every sort, just waiting to be discovered. But Sphinx is a far more dangerous place than ultra-civilized Meyerdahl, and Stephanie's explorations come to a sudden halt when her parents lay down the law: no trips into the bush without adult supervision!
Yet Stephanie is a young woman determined to make discoveries, and the biggest one of all awaits her: an intelligent alien species. The forest-dwelling treecats are small, cute, smart, and have a pronounced taste for celery. And they are also very, very deadly when they or their friends are threatened - as Stephanie discovers when she comes face-to-face with Sphinx's most lethal predator after a hang-gliding accident.
But her discoveries are only beginning, for the treecats are also telepathic and able to bond with certain humans, and Stephanie's find - and her first-of-its kind bond with the treecat Climbs Quickly - land both of them in a fresh torrent of danger. Galactic-sized wealth is at stake, and Stephanie and the treecats are squarely in the path of highly placed enemies determined to make sure the planet Sphinx remains entirely in human hands, even if that means the extermination of another thinking species.
Unfortunately for those enemies, the treecats have saved Stephanie Harrington's life. She owes them - and Stephanie is a young woman who stands by her friends. Which means things are about to get very interesting on Sphinx.
©2011 Words of Weber, Inc. (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
This story was great. It was fun and fast paced enough to keep my attention. Weber created characters that are about as realistic as possible given the sci-fi universe in which they dwell. They are internally consistent, well developed, and multidimensional. No flawless goody-two-shoes in the Star Kingdom … and that includes the tree cats! Having already read the Honor Harrington books I have wanted to know more about these endearing creatures. A Beautiful Friendship does a great job explaining the beginnings of the human/tree cat relationship.
It is possible that someone reading this before any of the Honor series might have some difficulty understanding this universe, but I doubt it. I am glad I read the Honor books first, but I suspect starting with this book would be just as satisfying.
All in all, this is a very entertaining book. The narrator was very good. She gave different voices to the characters without the accents being too intrusive. I really liked the way she portrayed the tree cats. I think there might have been a risk of the cats seeming like childish “animals.” However, she managed to avoid that and depict them as very small adults.
I can't wait for the next book in this series.
This is a very good book. Unlike the Safehold series there is almost no action, however even an action fan liek me enjoyed this book. The character development is astounding, even in the treecat's view. My only issue is that it is relatively shorter than the Safehold series, but I would still put it very high on my top 10 list. The choice for a narrator is also great, she was also able to pull of the male voices with enough definition that if the next spoken line was also a guy you could tell it was different person. I believe this series will be very close to Safehold in my favorite series list, and that alone is complement enough.
I love strong female characters, and I've been in and out of the Honor Harrington books for ages. They are good, but I've always been left a bit ho-hum.
Something drew me towards this one, as I've always been interested in the back story of the tree-cats joining with the humans outlined in honor harrington, but without exposition.
This tale is as powerful and as emotive as, "The Host," by Stephenie Merry. Another story that shook me to my roots.
The beauty of the relationship between the tree-cat and the two leg, balanced against the risks of surviving on such a dangerous fantasy science-fiction world is a thrilling, wonderful ride. I listen a lot when I'm walking for exercise, one day I was so engrossed I did two extra (1 mile) laps:)
Khristine Hvam doesn't get in the way of the narrative, and just tells the story. As a result, the listener is focused on the drama, not the voice. In my book, that's a perfect reading. Nice Job.
I really love this book, I cannot wait till book two is released in late 2012.
I originally purchased a hard back copy of this for my 11 year old daughter...knowing her taste in writers I knew it would be a good fit...I purchased it on audio so once she was done reading it she could listen to it--she enjoys re playing books-- I usually pre read or read books along with her so I know what she is reading and we talk about characters--I was not prepared to enjoy this book on the scale that I do...about 1/2 way thru I began resarching the author and currently have 2 of his Honor series in my wish list--now I am eagerly awaiting credit time! Highly recommended for kids and mom's too (thinking dad's might like it as well)
I think it only fair to share the one negative--there are some awkward pauses in the recording (editing I believe) that are long enough that I checked to make sure I had not drained my battery...it is not terrible by any means...that is why the performance received only 4 stars..
Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.
I recently listened to Fuzzy Nation by Scalzi. The subject matter is much the same--first contact with a lovable, sapient species faced with the potential predations of the sleazier elements in humankind. Scalzi managed to overcome my initial, strong resistance to the Ewok syndrome. He was scupulously careful about not violating his own descriptions of the problem of communicating with the new species. His dialogue was witty, entertaining, and believable. And even his villains had a certain amount of human ambiguity built into them. This book, on the other hand, had none of these strengths. Add to that the fact that a great deal of it is devoted to the very predictable and unimaginative preteen angst of a gifted, pristinely "good" 11-14 year old girl, and I was ready for the end long before the end.
I have read one of the Honor Harrington books and found it much better than this effort. This book might be great for a preteen girl (though I think either of my daughters would have been nearly as bored as I was), but unless you are adicted to cute or to re-examining the struggles of pre-adolescence, I would advise you to look elsewhere. Obviously I am in a distinct minority here, so you should probably take my opinion with a grain of salt.
I could see this was going to be a good concept at the start. I didn't think the character was as intelligent as some of the others Weber has written about. But she is young, and acted accordingly. I do hope there are more to come. And that the story is expanded even more, as these are the stories I love to hear.
An excellent book to read in an afternoon. I'd highly recommend it. I've always enjoyed Weber's novels and he hasn't disappointed me this time. The reader is fabulous. My only complaint is when is the next in this series coming out. A definite read!
Devourer of all books fantasy
This is the first book in the Honorverse: Stephanie Harrinton by Weber; a sub-series in his Honorverse series aimed at YA readers. The second book in this series, Fire Season, is due out October 2012.
The audiobook was very well done, with excellent narration and good distinction between character voices. It was a good book to listen to.
Stephanie has been forced to move to the relatively unpopulated planet of Sphinx when her scientist parents acquire land there. During one of her hanger flights Stephanie crashes into the forest only to be saved by another sentient species on the planet which she nicknames tree-cats. She bonds with a tree-cat she calls Lionheart and a struggle ensues to ensure the safety of this new species. The book switches between Stephanie’s and Lionheart’s/Climbs Quickly’s viewpoints. This worked well for the story and gave us an excellent glimpse into both sentient life forms (humans and treecats).
I listened to Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi earlier this year and you can’t help by think of that book when you read this one. To be honest this book is a less action-packed, less humorous Fuzzy Nation aimed at a YA audience. It is a decently done YA science fiction novel, but I felt like I was reading a watered down version of Fuzzy Nation.
This book does addresses some interesting issues like discovering and exploiting sentient species on a non-earth planet. Unfortunately the story is very simple and predictable. Things are incredibly very over-explained and reiterated again and again. The description is so repetitive and things are explained in such minute detail that the whole story felt very dumbed down.
Stephanie makes an excellent heroine. She is smart, funny, honest, and brave. The relationship she has with her parents is also really well done. You can tell that their family relationship is based on mutual respect; it’s a family anyone would be happy to be part of. Lionheart and his clan are similarly respectful and reasonable with each other.
There were things that puzzled me though; like why was language such a barrier for so long between the humans and the tree cats? Stephanie and Lionheart are friends for over a year and they still have trouble communicating. You would think if both species are so intelligent then they would eventually start using hand signals or writing to communicate. This was just a major gap in logic that bothered me throughout the story.
Things are fairly well tied up at the end of the book, and although this is clearly not a stand alone novel, it could be read as such.
Overall a decent if somewhat flawed YA science fiction novel. I enjoyed the heroine and her family dynamic, the tree cats were also interesting. The story was very simplistic though and things were re-iterated to the point where the story felt a bit dumbed down. Also if you have read Fuzzy Nation by Scalzi then you have already read a very similar story that is funnier and more action packed than this one. I would tentatively recommend to middle grade or YA sci-fi fans; I don’t think most adults will find much here to interest them. I would highly recommend reading John Scalzi’s Fuzzy Nation instead of this book to explore similar topics.
If you liked the Honnor Harrington series, you will love this new series. The stars have different names but this is Honor as a teenager when she first met the tree cats. Many of the names are different, but the crossover's are along the same story line. For example: she calls her cat "Stinker". If you haven't herd the Honnor Harrington series I believe most will still enjoy this very much as it is a stand alone series. I am looking forward to and am sure I will purchase the rest of the series as they come out.
senior sci-fi connoisseur
I bought this book for the simple reason that I buy everything that this author writes. I did not realize that this book, whose primary protagonist is a 13-14 year old female, would not carry the tale of the tree cats, introduced in the popular Honor Harrington series, to the time when they would be highly considered and accepted by the Manticorian Navy. With just one real evil villain, it does tell the story of how humans and tree cats first met with no sex and no bad-words included. This would be a good book for a scifi leaning preteen.
"Hexapod..from the Greek hexapoda meaning six-foot"
three word sum up? intelligent cat-alien story
I found myself getting angry along with the main character at one point (which since I was out walking at the time meant I got some concerned looks but still. Never mind) when faced with a person who couldn't grasp the diference between pet and an intelligent creature.
David Weber appears to have a slight fixation on 6 limbed aliens based on reading this and the 4 book saga that starts with March up country (Prince Rodger books).That aside I really liked this book. It's not full of complicated scientific turms and ideas (or the sci-fi equivalent) so it's more accessible to people of a wider age range.The characters, both human and tree-cats, are well written and the places where the story takes you are easy to imagine. I think if you like animals and the struggle to overcome other peoples backward thinking in a story then this may just be the one for you. I'm certainly looking forward to listening to the second one!
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