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A Talent for War: An Alex Benedict Novel | [Jack McDevitt]

A Talent for War: An Alex Benedict Novel

Everyone knew the legend of Christopher Sim. Fighter. Leader. An interstellar hero with a rare talent for war, Sim changed mankind's history forever when he forged a ragtag group of misfits into the weapon that broke the back of the alien Ashiyyur. But now, Alex Benedict has found a startling bit of information, long buried in an ancient computer file. If it is true, then Christopher Sim was a fraud.
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Publisher's Summary

Everyone knew the legend of Christopher Sim. Fighter. Leader. An interstellar hero with a rare talent for war, Sim changed mankind's history forever when he forged a ragtag group of misfits into the weapon that broke the back of the alien Ashiyyur. But now, Alex Benedict has found a startling bit of information, long buried in an ancient computer file. If it is true, then Christopher Sim was a fraud.

For his own sake, for the sake of history, Alex Benedict must follow the dark track of a legend, into the very heart of the alien galaxy - where he will confront a truth far stranger than any fiction imaginable.

BONUS AUDIO: Includes an exclusive introduction by author Jack McDevitt.

©2004 Jack McDevitt; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"In his ability to absolutely rivet the reader, it seems to me that McDevitt is the logical heir to Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke." (Stephen King)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (312 )
5 star
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Overall
3.8 (166 )
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Story
3.9 (168 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Brian Las Vegas, NV, United States 09-25-10
    Brian Las Vegas, NV, United States 09-25-10 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    43
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    "Very good - but the cover and title are deceptive"

    This is NOT a book about war, or fighting in space, or action of any kind. You should NOT judge the book by it's cover or title or you will be disappointed (as several reviewers were), but if you know going in that it is more of a detective story (where the detective is a librarian type) you will like it. I would actually compare it to "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" or the other George Smiley spy books - there is very little action currently happening (but past action is discovered and discussed by the protagonist). That is not a bad thing (John La Carrie sold millions of those books, and they are great), but if you are expecting the protagonist to have a "talent for war" (he doesn't) or men in spacesuits (the cover depicts a man dead for a hundred years) you will be disappointed. If you want an interesting future mystery with some science fiction (it is the future, but that future is 90% like the present) and several very interesting "twists", give this a try.

    16 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Howrah, Australia 07-09-10
    Christopher Howrah, Australia 07-09-10 Member Since 2007

    Social Scientist and Researcher; mostly retired but conducting longitudinal research into social issues especially the media and social networking. Avid SF and alternative history fan; enjoy a good crime yarn and have become something of an addict for audiobooks.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    43
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    "A masterpiece by a grandmaster"

    This is probably my most favored science fiction novel and the first in the series starring an intergalactic antiquarian. For students of history, this book will evoke parallels with ancient Greece and its empire, and the threat from an alien race. The story concerns the legendary Christopher Sim, the hero of the Confederacy; the man who defeated the alien race by fighting them to a standstill. But there is much more to this tale than battles in space, politics and history, the characters are finely drawn and first-class. Jack McDevitt did not win a Hugo for this work (The Hercules Text which preceded it did) but all the books he has written, this one has a compelling majesty and richness to savor.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurence Brooklyn, NY, United States 07-05-11
    Laurence Brooklyn, NY, United States 07-05-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Good but rest of series is better!"

    I had listened to the 2nd-4th books of this series (which can be read in pretty much any order) and came to this one last mostly because it did not have the same reader. This book is OK- a good mystery with interesting back story. The subsequent books, however, are much better. They are told from the perspective of Chase (the "sidekick") and the reader of those is great. They all involve search for historical artifacts, adventures, and a bit of sleuthing so there is a lot of information on the fictional history of their (future) society as they go about their investigations. Fun SF.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Js Banks 10-23-08
    Js Banks 10-23-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    137
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    26
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    9
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    "Adventures of a reference librarian"

    This book was a strange experience. It was, in large part, the story of a story. We follow a very dry, and somewhat dim hero unearthing dusty histories, reading over his shoulder snippets describing vast adventures as if through smoked glass. Minutes are devoted to characters we never see again, and events that deserve far more explication are lovingly set up and then casually abondoned. On the plus side, if you are patient, the ending suddenly rouses to slam-bang action and poignancy that ties the whole effort together at long last.
    One more odd plus is that you can make a drinking game out of counting the times the verbally dyslexic narrator mispronounces and misreads fairly basic vocabulary. You will wince at first and then laugh.

    7 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James burleson, TX, United States 02-04-13
    James burleson, TX, United States 02-04-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "not impressed"
    Would you ever listen to anything by Jack McDevitt again?

    Possibly


    Would you be willing to try another one of Gregory Abbey and Jack McDevitt ’s performances?

    Possibly


    What character would you cut from A Talent for War?

    The main character


    Any additional comments?

    I had listened to" seeker". The main character was Chase not Alex. It was much more interesting and the reason I got this story. The story was interesting but they drained on and on about mans flaw of war blah blah blah. It could have been reduced to 5 hrs instead of 9 easily.if you like alit of narration and pointing out of all of mans flaws constantly then this book is for you

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Brewster, NY, United States 09-23-11
    Mark Brewster, NY, United States 09-23-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Please Read.."

    If you have enjoyed any of the Alex Bennidict or Chase stories that Mr. Mcdevitt has written you are going to hate this book. Alex meets Chase for the first time and she sounds like a 500lb sailor, not like the sweet girl we have come to love. I would highly recommend the rest of the Alex / Chase stories. Also, the narrator is horrible, all the voices sound the same, and its very monotone. Very boring and the only reason I finished it is that I wasted a credit on it.
    As for space battles, I highly recommend the Lost Fleet Series, now that collection of books kept me glued to my Ipod.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Howard San Diego, CA United States 02-23-11
    Howard San Diego, CA United States 02-23-11 Member Since 2007

    TaxProf

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not up to McDevitt's standard"

    I am a very big fan of Jack McDevitt's, but this book was disappointing. It had his usual clever mystery with a nice ending, but the story was just much too slow. And while I usually am indifferent to the reader, in this case (perhaps because I had so much time on my hands) I was particularly bothered by the many mispronunciations.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jadn Lawrenceville, ga, United States 12-13-10
    Jadn Lawrenceville, ga, United States 12-13-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Info dump"

    This book was very disappointing. The few highlights of technology were interesting, but the constant barrage of information dumping and telling made it a snooze. I got through the first 3 hours of this, and decided to stop wasting my time with the book. Perhaps it get's better later on, but the author lost me after the first 30 minutes. Definitely would not recommend this to any of my friends.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kaleb Eureka, CA, United States 12-05-10
    Kaleb Eureka, CA, United States 12-05-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "Speed Demon"

    The story is good. But the narrator is on speed. I think if this was rerecorded at a medium pace I would give it another star.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teresa Raymond 09-06-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "No care taken with this narration"
    What did you like best about A Talent for War? What did you like least?

    I found the story interesting, but was totally distracted by the ineptitude of the narrator. How an adult human being can not know how to pronounce, "emeritus," "Aeneid," "islet," and "Demosthenes," especially if you are going to be pronouncing these words as part of a paid narration, shows a complete lack of attention by the actor reading and the producers. It was disappointing.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Gregory Abbey and Jack McDevitt ’s performances?

    Doubtful. My enjoyment was interrupted constantly by my disbelief at the illiteracy of the narrator.


    Could you see A Talent for War being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    No.


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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  • Neil
    10/8/08
    Overall
    "An absorbing tale"

    This is the first of the Alex Bennidict series of books, the only one of the three currently available that is narrated as the main protaginist instead of his associate Chase.

    Unfortunatly due to the release order on Audible, i have listened to the books in reverse order, but this has not dimmed my enjoyment of these novels.

    Set in a distant but utterly belevable future of a human race spread across the stars with the lessons of 14000 years of recorded history behind them, and yet still vunerable to the same faults that exist today.

    This book is placed in a time of political unrest and tension, the story line weaves through worlds filled with belivable charactors, places and events.
    It is not a story full of violence and inconsistancies, but the story of a detailed search for a something hidden, which during the finding takes the listener into the worlds of the Confederacy, and in my case left me wanting more.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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