A predator hunts the skies over Earth. Its intent is peaceful, and its mission is essential, but it is the deadliest machine humanity has ever created.
Piloted by a six-year-old girl, the godlike Skalm guards the Districts of TASC. Her family is long dead. Her adopted father is a synthetic copy of an alien, her nanny an artificial mind connected via subspace to every part of the globe, feeding the young girl information, finding prey to satiate her growing thirst.
But the young girl is an innocent, a victim, one of millions the war has already claimed. Her innocence has been sacrificed by a man with singular purpose: a man who will stop at nothing in order to prepare Earth for the coming conflict.
The armada is approaching, its far-off engines now bright as stars in the night sky. They mean to kill us. They have the power to do so. And as oblivion's maw opens up to engulf us, we brace ourselves for battle.
We will fight to the last. Live or die, we will leave a scar upon our attackers that will last an age, even if we ourselves do not.
©2014 Stephen Moss (P)2016 Podium Publishing
This is a difficult review to write; partially because I have been such a fan of the series and partially because I have very mixed feelings about this final installment. I am not necessarily disappointed, but I'm also not as happy with what 'could have been'.
I am acutely aware that there is difficulty in succinctly and comprehensively tying up every loose end in a story as broadly sweeping as this. I'm not holding Moss to that standard. We need to be shown the scale of the struggle, of the coming forces, the preparations on earth. And, we are. To an extent. My issue is less with the build up (in fact I thought the build up was great) and more with the resolution.
***Potential Interpretive Spoilers Ahead***
I won't tell actual plot devices, but the way I have to discuss this to explain mandates the spoiler warning.
Essentially, we have this massive build up to a final conflict, something that is shocking in its brevity, and then a deus ex resolution that, while it was alluded to (I guess) was pretty bizarre in its execution. I'm just not sure it was a fitting end. I would have gladly listened to another 2 or 3 hours (or more, frankly), if it was filled with a bit more... cinematic quality. Yes, there were poignant moments. Yes, it was cool in its own right. And, actually, the battle itself was very likely exactly how something like that would play out (at least in this book's 'science'). That's part of the frustration- Moss didn't fail us, really. But it still feels like a bit of a let down.
Beyond the battle, actually everything felt *extremely* clipped and rushed. I don't know whether he got bored writing it or what... but the triumphant exuberance at the end of book II was completely gone in this installment. A lot of build up and then... poof. Done.
I didn't hate the book by any means. I thought it was very good overall. But it just had so much potential that seemed to get wasted. Certainly finish the trilogy if you have been listening so far and I still feel strongly that it is absolutely worthwhile. Maybe my expectations are unrealistic at this point- in fact I fully accept that likelihood.
Worth a credit and your time. A great trilogy and an acceptable ending that fell short of what could have been.
Disclaimer: I loved the first two books. LOVED THEM! At some point between book two and three Stephen Moss lost his mind.
Spoilers ahead, you've been warned.
1. Protagonist Rules - Stephen, you had an excellent protagonist. You took an everyman and threw him into extraordinary circumstances. He excelled and became the hero in book two. You placed him on a pedestal for everyone to worship as the protagonist we needed to carry the story forward. Then you started slowly chipping away at his armor in book two. But that's ok, we need our protagonist to have flaws and we need to see him fall and earn redemption. But instead of allowing the audience to revel in his fall and triumph you decided to make him into a modern day Josef Mengele. What the heck? How can you destroy your protagonist like that and expect anyone to feel fulfilled by this story? You had an excellent scapegoat in Ayala and a character that I imagine most readers would not have minded losing. Why was she not written to be the mastermind behind the vivisection of the Korean children? Why did you destroy Neal? It's one thing to kill a protagonist, but you destroyed him. This is unforgivable.
Furthermore, you toyed with your readers by bringing Neal back into the story when he was asked to give his opinion on the deep space images from his prison. Then you just left him there...you left him there with no conclusion except for two sentences in the end of the book. How can you take such a strong character and reduce him to nothingness? I found myself cursing you at the conclusion....not good for your future readership.
2. Mobiliei Exposition
I don't care about the Mobiliei. You spent two books building up human characters. In the last book you decide to introduce us to the opposition. But instead of giving us a few chapters of character development you go on ad nauseam about their sexual preferences and meaningless interpersonal quirks. Nobody cares about their personal lives unless they serve to link us to the main story. You could have spent a third of the time developing their characters (or no time at all) and the story would be no worse for it.
3. Character Overload
In the first two books you had a sum total of about 15 main characters (it's a rough estimate as I don't have time to go back and count.) You spent a lot of time developing these characters and suddenly in book two you introduce an entirely new lot of people, many of which are not even given proper introductions. We're just supposed to accept these people at face value without any knowledge of their motivations or morality. You bounce back and forth between these characters as as a reader I completely lose focus and start to drift away from the story. Much of this fault lies with the Mobiliei chapters which are, as I already mentioned, a complete waste of time.
4. Deus Ex Machina
Stephen, I really really really loved your first two books. It cannot be overstated how much your story enthralled me and kept me coming back for more every day. But the last few chapters of book three felt as if you took those books and slapped me in the face. What were you thinking? Until now I was able to suspend disbelief. Body transplants, check. Brains in a jar, check. Creating an inter-dimensional god-like Birgit? What the heck man? This is the worst kind of Deus Ex Machina I have ever seen. I kept hoping that Birgit was attempting to access the core of the IST to enable some doomsday weapon that would empower our fleets to become invincible or some such nonsense. But instead we're left with something that makes me think Stephen was late for a dinner party and had to turn in the book that evening. Why oh why could you not sacrifice some of the ridiculous amount of Mobiliei exposition and give us a somewhat plausible finale instead? I want to give you the benefit of the doubt here. Did you have a personal struggle while writing this book? Did you lose someone close to you? Were you kidnapped and forced to finish the book under threat of death? Are the Mobiliei real and did they force you to substitute this fake finale for the real one? Maybe they were afraid you would give away their weaknesses in your real final chapters? I hope that's it because I would rather think you were under duress when writing those chapters than to think that you just gave up.
Really enjoyed all 3 books. In my opinion, this was the worst of the 3. Disjointed in several places, the characters were not as developed as in previous books. I enjoyed "getting to know" the Mobili (spelling?) but it left a lot on the table at the end, especially missing an opportunity of seeing the battle from their perspective. It was aLmost as if the author wanted to leave enough meat for another book. Definitely not enough of the "good" Mobili (Hunt and Quavos) in this version. Don't like what the author did to Neil, but appreciated that perspective of absolute power corrupting absolutely. But then he shows up a little toward the end, making the reader think he will add value....but not really. The final battle was not as well written as some of the previous battles and fights with the Agents. The whole "sub space" inclusion in the final battle left me shaking my head, it became very abstract to my limited understanding of physics. The short story at the end was a nice touch.
I couldn't wait to hear how the author would wrap up this fine series and I had this finale preordered. Refreshing my email until about 3am it appeared! Without much sleep I went to work continuing to keep an ear bud secreted. Fantastic.... Until he sent my favorite character to an island for war crimes. I can't tell you how irritated that made me and how out of phase that was with the rest of the story. He was saving the world, the gloves are off. In order to keep the human race from extinction I'm thinking that leaving decisions to a tribunal representing the various countries around the globe would certainly abandon all hope for the survival of the human race. Especially when a group of A.I.s become the arbitrators, ugh. Perhaps I'm jaded but how could he do this to the man who was one, maybe the most important, character in the story? After the coo I lost my favorite character and I had to struggle to the finish. Please rewrite the outcome of the power struggle. I'm still aghast!!
I always enjoy R C Bray's performances, and he didn't disappoint.
Sadly the last book wasn't as good as the first two. The ending and the process towards it isn't as well developed as the other books. In fact the ending was disappointing. For 2/3rds of the book you are wondering whether you are ever getting to the point, and then the actual reason you are there is rushed through in the last 1/3rd. Sad.
The first book was good, the second book was average and the last book a huge letdown. Story goes off on weird tangents that never go anywhere. Main characters built up in the first two books become minor sidelines in the third. All the tension built up over all three books comes to a fizzling, anti-climatic ending.
Seriously? The first two books were great! What happened? You excommunicate the protagonist? Don't bother with this one, keep the fantasy of a good third book in your imagination!
I really can't add much that the other detailed reviews has already covered. This installment was a jumbled mess that read more like a first draft outline than a finished work. The first two books were great and it made the third book that much more disappointing. But this book is getting a 4.5 star average review while most of the active reviewers are mostly negative. That makes me question Audibles star review system. Most of the people that read this book and were into this series would have acknowledged this poor offering by Moss. It makes me think that Audible is infested by bots that give good reviews to keep poor books viable to potential readers. Nobody new to the series is going to start the first book if they see that the series drops off at the end. So to sell the series they prop up a bad book.
I enjoy some science fiction books, but this one is one of my favorites. It really has everything - love, hate, robots, battle, treachery, characters you love to love and characters you love to hate. Definitely a good read or listen.
"Wow.....but what to do now?"
Loved all three books.Great narration (RC Bray is a legend) and brilliant writing. Felt a real connection with the characters. The problem is (and it's the same after every good book) what do I read now?
"Too many loose ends and not enough 'ending'....."
A little disapointed considering the first two book were actually very good indeed. The third book was the length of the first two combioned and really felt it. I found myself skipping whole chapters because the story continued to focus heavily on areas that didn't really add any value apart from padding the story out. I'm glad I did as the end was, as others have said, very anti-climactic.
I wont spoil it but there were whole chapters and many hours building up tech and characters only to find them simply unnecessary in the end. In fact one minor side story line ended up being the surprise big ending. There were simply too many loose ends from too many cul-de-sacs and the story... just ended. There was an attempt to wrap it all up but it and I felt empty and that I'd wasted a alot of time paying attention to detailed story lines and significant characters that ended up eitehr going nowhere, simply not being completed or just ignored.
However the whole series was worth the listen and I did enjoy the whole; just not the thrid book and ending.
"Starts well, disappointing end"
A must read if you've started the Fear saga. Finding out what happened to Earth and the characters was good. However the book went on and on about somewhat irrelevant scenes. The ending was also disappointing. Having built the armada's arrival for three whole books I was left feeling underwhelmed. That said, the book was performed well and all three books kept up my interest.
Absolutely brilliant and unexpectedly inspirational. A fantastic human species adventure that catches your tail when you least expect it. An incredible work from Stephen Moss and of course R.C.Bray who embeds your mind deeply within the narrative.
"Excellent and satisfying end to the saga."
Complex story lines converge in this final part of the saga with some inciteful references to the corruptibility of even the noblest of causes. Narrator gives voice to each of the characters with a voice that is easy on the ear.
"A Must Read Trilogy"
Amazing narration brings these first class books to life. Wish there were more...buy and you won't be disappointed!
I enjoyed this book in fact I enjoyed the series However I felt the ending was rushed almost as if the author ran out of time. Meanwhile there were whole segments of all three books that were very drawn out. At one point the whole count down was explained in detail every step from 10 to 0 which added nothing to the story and only served to fill pages.
The concept of people / aliens engaging in a machine world at gay abandon and loss of all morals was / is inspired.
I loved the aliens they were far more interesting then the one dimensional human characters. Honestly I got to the point were I was on the side of these brutal aliens who lived to have virtual drugged fuelled sex parties. They were so devious imaginative and operated on so many levels that I came to prefer them to the relatively straightforward humans.
A good read/ listen well narrated over all I enjoyed it.
"Poor ending to a great story."
Unfortunately Stephen Moss lost his way in this 3rd book. So dragged out and then the battle we've been waiting 3 books for is over in a heartbeat. So many characters sidelined. Compared to book 1 and 2 this is almost like a different author wrote it.
"Instantly catapulted to my favorite sci-fi trilogy"
After book one, I wondered if the next two could live up to it. Oh my goodness!
"Another great book"
These books are great, just the right balance between science and fiction. I would and will, recommend them to any sci-fi fan I can.
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