This is clearly the work of a younger Asprin than the Myth Series. It is very interesting to about the race of humanoid reptiles that obviously were some of the basis for Aahz. They clearly have different personalities and don't have magic, but they are both humanoid reptiles. The book focuses on a reptile race that battles with an empire of different types of bugs. The talks about battles and plans seems to be a very similar to Myth Conceptions. Asprin does a better job in the Myth series of keeping things light and entertaining. At times the battle information overwhelms the story. Overall this book is a more serious Asprin. I don't think it makes one Joke. I found myself drawn in and reading it over a few days.
On it's own it might be a 3-4 star book. If your a fan of Asprin then it offers a lot of perception into his writing development. The ending sets up the book for series , but I am glad he changed his style and wrote the Myth series.
The premise could have worked, lizards vs. bugs, as told by a lizard. This already falters on the biophysics of giant bugs, though, and I never found the first-person voice of the narrator compelling. OK, they have castes, largely defined by biology - but only warrior, scientist, and technician? I mean, even if that's all the speaker (a warrior) sees, I might expect at least mention of others. Bio-tinkering to introduce color vision? Well, it's an easy target, but maybe not the first and surely not the only tweak that would occur to me.
The speaker's fatalism and bone-deep sense of duty rig reasonably true, even after dire hardship, but leave the character a bit one-dimensional. Generational differences arise - but even that generally lacks dramatic tension. Asprin as written some very entertaining stories. I just can't pu tthis title on that list.
I first got this book back in the late 70's and was amazed; hey, it's sic-fi, bugs vs. lizards, and lots of bloodshed, what more could a teen look for in a book (ok, a pretty maiden would have been nice but didn't expect it with bugs and insects). Seeing this in a used book store I had a flashback and decided I wanted to see how well this one had aged.
This one's not the simple shoot 'em up you'd expect, instead it's more of a look at culture; mainly the lizards caste society with speculation and observation of the federation of bugs. There is an interesting piece where the main character speculates on intelligent mammals, something the scientific caste has speculated on but the lizards have a hard time considering due to mammals being their food of choice. The story is told from the lizards perspective with the focal point being Rahm, a member of the warrior cate, takes us thru the different campaigns and between times. While Rahm rises in rank in each campaign he's always close to the action going from team leader to being responsible for the campaign. An interesting piece that's hidden in the book is that both the bugs and the lizards are the result of an earlier space going society that has failed atleast in that portion of space. There are no space combats (space is nothing more than something where the transport sits while forces deploy), the first campaign the lizards us flyiers at first and after that everything is a ground campaign, either clandestine or active opertations.
It was interesting to go back and re-read a book I loved long ago. While the book didn't age my expectations did. The actions weren't as big or grand as I remembered but rather more of a action/response with observation. Rahm is an interesting character that's rich with his intelligence but limited with his emotional capabilities, guess its from being a lizard. While I was heavily in love with this one as a teen, the fascination was weaker this time, partually because my tastes have changed, partially because other books have done as good a job or better at exploring cultures (sorry, my favorite is CJ Cherryh for that). I did love how Mr. Asprin explored a caste society, showing rivalry with a culture but feel he failed to truely enable the bugs or explain how either culture could survive much past their current war (we're told of only three castes for lizards, warrior, technician, and scientist and that they use controlled breeding. What happens to a society like that that no longer has something to conquer). I'm giving the node to this one as 4 stars mainly because it was entertaining and thought provoking, but its a weak 4 star recommendation.
I have probably read this book a dozen times over the years. I first bought it at a bookstore in the mall. You know, back when we had malls and bookstores. I think I was 12 years old or so. FREAKING LOVED IT! Lizard warriors vs insects?? Are you kidding me?? I ended up losing my original copy long ago. But my wife got me a nice hardcover edition one year for my birthday. You really come to like the characters. And you will wish this book was longer. I want a sequel! A prequel! A movie! A tv show!