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5.0 out of 5 starsLove the series!
Reviewed in the United States on July 21, 2014
This is one of my favorite sci-fi series. Susan R. Matthews is a wonderful writer who's created characters of depth who you really come to care about.
5.0 out of 5 starsHe's mad enough to be honorable; read it, read it, read it.
Reviewed in the United States on June 11, 1998
I've read both of these books, and I want more, but I have a strong, strong warning: Don't try to read this late. You'll have nightmares. At least I did. The subject matter is repulsive. Torture, mass murder (or attempted genocide), the slow destruction of a man and his honor. Ugh. But I couldn't put it down, and I can't recommend it highly enough. I just can't drop it, or the images it leaves me with. Imagine the gulag and the worst of the Nazi extermination camps, combined. Imagine a man whose accomodation to the worst thing he can do is to flip some mental switch, and taps into that place of dark, bloody, unacceptable erotocism that (I suspect, anyway) most men have inside them. He is mad. No one can accomodate the rigid code of Andrej's upbringing, the ethics of a healer, and the inappropriate enjoyment of his work without being quite, quite mad. But his honor remains, because he is mad, it becomes the one true thing left him. When he betrays it, by torturing one of his security, the backlash shakes him. It also makes it possible for him to see past his psychotic pleasure, to the fact that something is rotten. I couldn't put it down. It gave me nightmares. I'll read the next one. Buy it, read it.
Reviewed in the United States on February 25, 2013
I picked this up on a whim last week, as I was going to be sitting for a bit and wanted something to read while I waited. I'm really glad I did, it was a good read - a real page turner.
I just finished reading several Stephen Gould books over the last few weeks ("Wildside", "Jumper", "Reflex", etc) and some of the "Ender's Game" series by Orson Scott Card before that. I think this fits in VERY well with those books - even in some of the concepts such as the obedience 'governor' that is implanted in some of the characters. Very comparable, and if you liked Card or Gould, I think you'd love this.
The story is well developed as are the characters and concepts. I haven't looked to see what else this author has written yet, but I hope there is a sequel - if not, there should be!
5.0 out of 5 starsSF or SM? Either way it is great writing
Reviewed in the United States on March 19, 2001
What would you do if you had the power of life and death over people every day? What if you felt guilty because you loved having that power? This is the dilemma that faces the protagonist in Susan Matthew's "Prisoner of Conscience". Set in a universe where independent planets face conquest and suppression by a theocratic government and punitive slavery is enforced by biomechanical devices, Ms. Matthews relies on interesting moral conflicts and well written characters rather than complex scientific gadgetry to tell her story. Given the strong psychological suspense and not so subtle sexual undertones, this book seems more like a BDSM novel than straight science fiction. Either way, this book makes an engrossing read and I would recommend it quite strongly.
...This book is about the trauma of reconciling all that you are with all that you wish you were...not pleasant endeavor at best and avoided by the stupid and unnecessary for the extremely healthy...but certainly a type of art and path toward beauty. The author's study of relationships under stress, and horror, and loyalty, and sexual need, and...everything else is extrodinary and worthy of sharing a portion of your life with. If you would like the perfect foil for this excellent book read The Immortals, among the worst books I've ever read, by Hickman I believe. After reading this pollyanic, cotton candy version of a death camp you will appreciate what the author of Prisoner of Conscience has woven for you. Kudos.
4.0 out of 5 starsAdventures in corruption and torture of a man of honor.
Reviewed in the United States on February 15, 1998
A fascinating book which I could not put down even to sleep. The main character, Andrej Koscuisko, is a sometimes impetuous and certainly phsychotic Fleet officer of royal lineage with the blood of genocide on his ancestral hands. He is also a compassionate surgeon who deeply loves the convict/slaves bound to his service as a security team as punishment for their crimes by means of involuntary brain implants called "governors." On occasion his duties require him to serve the judicial arm, or "Bench," of his tyrannical but fastidious intergalatic government by administering, within carefully defined parameters, torture to his unfortunate "clients" both to extract confessions and information as well as to punish them with extended, excrutiating termination. To his great dismay, he enjoys his work tremendously. The nature of his work and his sense of right and wrong unavoidably bring not only himself but the members of his beloved "bond-involuntary" security team in harm's way. The relationship between Koscuisko, the protective master careful of harming his involuntary servants, and devoted slave, constrained to absolute submission in word, deed and thought through brutal medical implanting, is poignant. Some aspects of the main character Koscuisko remind me of the character Severian in Gene Wolfe's tetralogy beginning with The Shadow of the Torturer. At other times in the book, especially when Koscuisko is being noble and gentle, I saw strong similarities to another of Mr. Wolfe's characters, namely Patera Silk in The Book of the Long Sun. The pshychotic twist the Author uses is excellent. One could almost catch a whiff of Inspector Arkady from Gorky Park and Polar Star in Koscuisko's dogged determination to do the right thing no matter what it might cost him. Actually, I wish there were more of Arkady in the main character with the tools of Severian... A wonderful book. I will immediately read the preceeding book in the series, Exchange of Hostages. Bravo