Conquered by the Jao twenty years ago, the Earth is shackled under alien tyranny - and threatened by the even more dangerous Ekhat, one of whose genocidal extermination fleets is coming to the solar system. The only chance for human survival is in the hands of an unusual pair of allies: a young Jao prince, newly arrived to Terra to assume his duties, and a young human woman brought up amongst the Jao occupiers. But, as their tentative alliance takes shape, they are under pressure from all sides. A cruel Jao viceroy on one side, determined to drown all opposition in blood; a reckless human resistance on the other, which is perfectly prepared to shed it. Added to the mix is the fact that only by adopting some portions of human technology and using human sepoy troops can the haughty Jao hope to defeat the oncoming Ekhat attack - and then only by fighting the battle within the sun itself.
©2003 Eric Flint & K.D. Wentworth (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
I read a lot of books and buy a lot of Audible credits. It is not often that I'll plonk down a precious credit for a book I have already read but The Course of Empire was an excellent read when it came out many years ago, a book I remember thoroughly enjoying, and I wanted to re-familiarize myself with the series before picking up its sequel Crucible of Empire.
Course of Empire is not groundbreaking, but it is a well told story, well narrated, with an interesting take on an alien culture. Like many books in the military Sci-Fi genre there is a fair degree of predictability in the flow of the story, you can see the arc of the book from early pages. But its still a very entertaining Arc. Fans of David Weber or David Drake would do well to pick this one up.
Eric Flint and K D Wentworth have created an interesting environment in this book. The Jao, having conquered the Earth, are having limited success in governing it and have adopted a mixed punitive - negligence policy between themselves and the humans with the current governor viewing "punitive" as being the better policy, especially toward the U.S. which, having had the biggest military, put up the biggest fight against their conquerors during the war. Into this tinderbox arrives a new Jao sent by his clan to serve as a military commander.
The book started slowly for me and I had a difficult time understanding the relationships between the characters, especially the Jao, for the first hour or so. Exactly what was a “Frata”? I was tempted to go on to something else, but I have always enjoyed Eric Flint’s books so I persisted and, as the story progressed, the relationships started to sort themselves out. By the third hour into the book I had become hooked and found it hard to put the book down.
The Jao society and family relationships are very complex and I was reminded, by that complexity, of the society Frank Herbert created in Dune where it took me two or three readings of the book to really understand what was happening and why. Here things become clear more quickly than that, but the story of a “good” Jao and a “bad” Jao and the sour relationships between their clans also reminded me of the Atraides and Harkonnen families in Dune and it became clear that this book was largely to be the story where events were governed by that relationship. And, as with Dune, I found myself taking sides and becoming invested in the characters.
While I enjoyed the book a great deal it was not until the epilogue that things really made sense. The explanations of how and why things turned out as they did turned an OK 4 star book into a very good 5 star book for me. Suddenly things were much clearer and the story no longer seemed as predictable as it did up to that point.
Chris Patton’s reading is very good. There is no stumbling over names and relationships and the narration never got in the way of the story. I found the book so enjoyable that I decided that I would buy the second in the series without waiting to see how many books there will be. Normally I would want to be sure I could actually get all of the volumes, but this book was so much fun that I decided to go ahead without waiting.
I recommend this book as a relaxing “read”. It is not a “serious” book as, say, Dune is, but it is a lot of fun.
1*=I didn't like it..... 2*=It was OK...... 3*=It was good but I will never read it again.......... 4*=Maybe I will read it again in the future.............. 5*=I will definitely read it again(maybe more than once)
Earth is conquered by alien race "Jao", as the book progresses we find out that some time ago Jao were slaves of a race which used them as soldiers. We find out that Jao were created and modified by that race. And now that race wants to destroy all sentience in the universe.
Because of that genetic tinkering, Jao do not have much of creativity, and original ideas, but they possess "the Flow" sense of time which almost feels like precognition.
Perhaps humans and Jao have something to learn from each other
Eric Flint seems to write more books with a co-author than by himself. When he writes with a good author like David Weber, the books tend to be really good. But when he writes with a bad co-author like some of those in his 1632 series, the books are bad. So I guess I've sort of thought that maybe Eric Flint has great ideas but can't carry them off without help. I guess that could still be the case, because once again, he wrote this book with a co-author. But this is one of his books that really works.
I thought he did a great job in envisioning his various alien races. In many science fiction stories, aliens just seem like human brains in funny-looking bodies. But these aliens, both the Jao and the Ekhat are convincingly non-human. The developing relations between the humans and non-humans are convincing as well.
I have read a lot of science fiction, and this story developed in ways I've never run across before. I don't want to provide spoilers, but consider this: I've read stories where the evil aliens attack Earth, and then (though everything seemed hopeless at first) we handed them their heads in a basket and threw their sorry butts off our planet. And I've read (a few) stories where the evil aliens attack Earth and then we lose and it is the end of life as we knew it. In this story, the evil aliens attack Earth, and then... something else happens.
David Weber has written a number of books about fights between humans and aliens, and we never get ANY insight into the minds or motivations of those alien cultures. In this book we do, and I feel this made for a much richer story. In short:
I REALLY liked this book. I recommend that you get it.
I don’t have a lot of time for reading, but Audible allows me to listen to all the great books that I thought I would never get to read.
Starts off a little slow and never really fulfills its potential. Although it could be that The Course of Empire just doesn’t live up to the expectations I had built up for the book after reading the cover. It’s not a bad book; I was just expecting more of a military background. If you’re looking for a military sci-fi book there are much better. If you’re just looking for a good sci-fi book there are better.
In conclusion The Course of Empire is worth a listen only after exhausting other military sci-fi or contemporary sci-fi selections from Audible.
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