The tale takes place in a universe where the losers in a galactic civil war were exiled across the "Rift" (an area through which very few of the "elec..Show More »tric avenues" used for FTL travel pass.) About a thousand years later the refugees have built their own interstellar civilizations, although those in power fear the day when the victors in that old war will decide to cross the Rift and finish their conquest.
The amount of background detail that is gradually revealed is impressive, as is the careful balancing of factors to make a quest for an object of power seem reasonable. But those who desire a clear-cut ending may not be happy with this book. We are constantly being teased by new details, but even the big reveal at the end only leaves us with more questions and a desire for the sequels whose existence is hinted at in the final chapter.
The accent the reader applies to some characters' dialog is rather strong, but the characters in question are from planets that were originally all populated by a polyglot of refugees, many of which decided to adopt an Old Terran culture and accent as an affectation, so the over-emphasis is understandable and amusing.
I think this book will be enjoyed by fans of space opera, those who enjoy examples of extensive world building, and anyone who is intrigued the asking of questions, even if we're not always given all the answers to those questions.
Flynn's follow-on installment to January Dancer (it's not a true sequel, since the story is new) is another winner. Not only is there the Dancer unive..Show More »rse, but many of the same characters are back. For this outing, the scarred man and the harper go in search of Bridget Ban (the harper's mother). Bridget has been missing for a while and even the Kennel has let the case go cold. Their journey takes them further and further out into the spiral arm with successively more primitive enclaves of the human diaspora. Along the way, Flynn weaves a tapestry of oddball cultures resulting from the distillation and degradation of various Earth histories, ideologies, and mythologies.
Flynn has basically crafted a sci-fi version of Conrad's Heart of Darkness (Apocalypse Now is the movie version). The mish-mash of various earth cultures and languages makes for fascinating and compelling storytelling. In addition, while everyone is focused on the presumed "great weapon" that Bridget Ban was supposedly on the trail to find, the ending while somewhat anticipated, is nevertheless satisfying.
The narration is quite well rendered especially given the huge demands due to the nature of the tale. In particular, the scarred man exhibits multiple personalities, each with their own unique vocal styles. In addition, the language structure which is largely a bastardization of normal language requires close attention.
Flynn's latest (3rd) installment in his spiral arm series returns to the style of his first with a story within a story theme. Ravn, a shadow (which i..Show More »s the Confederation's equivalent of a League hound like Bridget ban) regales a tale of her abduction of Donovan, the scarred man with multiple personality. With the telling, we learn somewhat of the history and politics of the League's natural adversary as well as the internecine struggles that are ongoing over there on the other side of the rift. At the same time, more background on Donovan is supplied that puts some informative, meaty slabs on his withered, bony frame.
There's little "new" sci-fi elements relative to earlier spiral arm tales, although there is a hint of more technology that has leached from old Terra, but is closely guarded by players unseen. Donovan is largely regarded as a pawn for the various power players in the Confederation to use. The tale finishes with Ravn and Donovan's daughter going off to rescue her father which is the basis for listing this as an appetizer.
The narration is excellent, particularly with regards to Donovan's multiple personalities; however, it should be noted that the narrator is different from the previous installment where this element was so prominent. It will take a bit of concentration to re-associate the various voices correctly. At the same time, Flynn is quite spartan in his rendition of past exploits from earlier installments and requisite background on the physics of this universe which place a premium on having listened to earlier offerings.
Book 4, On the Razor's Edge, of Michael Flynn's Spiral Arm series is a continuation begun with Book 3 that detailed the kidnapping of the scarred man ..Show More »(Donovan) by the Confederate agent Ravn. With this latest installment, the ultimate plans of the various competing factions of the Confederate partisans are revealed and Bridget ban along with various hounds (old ones along with a few new ones) mount the rescue for both Donovan and the harper. Along the way, we are treated to a more nuanced and detailed history of the early days of Earth's settlement of the spiral arm as well as its eventual decline. Flynn supplies satisfying resolution to the various mysteries and conflicts and leaves more than sufficient fodder for future storylines.
There is little in the way of new sci-fi elements relative to earlier volumes, although more background and details are provided to flesh out the pinnacle of past technological achievements of old Terra. There are hints of more extant technological wonders than appreciated by the dominant societies of the day.
Unfortunately, the narrator is changed again which takes a while to become familiar with the various personalities that Donovan possesses. At the same time, although a female narrator seems appropriate for a female laden set of perspective views, the renditions of Ravn and Bridget are delivered in a bit too flippant a manner for the tone of the tale. This also requires a close listen since most characters have been given multiple names that are used randomly.