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Publisher's Summary

First in a brand-new, thought-provoking space opera series.

The lines. No ship can traverse the void without them. Only linesmen can work with them. But only Ean Lambert hears their song. And everyone thinks he's crazy.... Most slum kids never go far, certainly not becoming a level 10 linesman like Ean. Even if he's part of a small and unethical cartel, and the other linesmen disdain his self-taught methods, he's certified and working. Then a mysterious alien ship is discovered at the edges of the galaxy. Each of the major galactic powers is desperate to be the first to uncover the ship's secrets, but all they've learned is that it has the familiar lines of energy and a defense system that, once triggered, annihilates everything in a 200 kilometer radius. The vessel threatens any linesman who dares to approach it, except Ean. His unique talents may be the key to understanding this alarming new force and forever reconfiguring the relationship between humans and the ships that serve them.

©2015 S.K. Dunstall (P)2015 Recorded Books

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    263
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    176
  • 3 Stars
    70
  • 2 Stars
    15
  • 1 Stars
    8

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    279
  • 4 Stars
    152
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    48
  • 2 Stars
    12
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    3

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    261
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    143
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    67
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    22
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    6
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely Excellent Story - Sci-fi Meets Fantasy

This book was one of the better audiobooks I've listened to this year. It was well written, well narrated, and had a very original and unique concept.

Although difficult to explain in a quick summary, the "lines" are lines of energy that control various ship systems. The "line" technology (we find out later in the book) was actually reverse engineered from an alien ship discovered hundreds of years before the events in the storyline. Many aspects of the technology are not completely understood, and two of the lines (7 and 8) have no apparent purpose. The lines can only be fixed by a select few people known as Linesmen. These people have a type of extra sensory perception and are able to sense, manipulate, and fix the lines on ships. Linesmen are rated from 1-10, with their number depicting the highest line that they can manipulate. Level 10 Linesmen can manipulate all 10 lines, and are few and far between.

The story is told primarily from the point-of-view Ian Lambert, a Level 10 Linesman. Raised in the slums of a backwater world, he is considered an outcast by the other Linesman. He is also the only Linesman who senses and manipulates the lines with sound (by singing) and not with his mind, further convincing his peers that he doesn't belong. When he is accidentally hired by a high-born noble for a critical mission, his value and uniqueness as a Linesman become more apparent. He joins a ship full of government and military officials to explore a new alien ship that has been discovered in a remote area of space. The ship itself has defenses preventing anyone from reaching it. When it is discovered that only Ian can reach out and communicate with the ship and its lines, he becomes the most valuable resource in the galaxy, making him the target of multiple governments and military factions.

It isn't very often we see a truly unique story such as this. The book contained everything from alien ships, space battles, and a dash of fantasy with the Linesman concept. This was one of my best spent credits in awhile. The narration equally top notch. I would recommend this one for anyone looking for something new in a sci-fi story.

25 of 34 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

A solid 2. "meh" personified.

This is an excellent example of "tell, but don't show" storytelling, coupled with a bland nearly monotone narrator. Both the book and the narrator needed an extremely talented counterpart to offset their thunderingly mediocre performance, but instead they were paired up with each other - the end result is this. It's a shame - this was almost enjoyable, rather than simply endurable.

Positives:

- I like space operas, and this does fit the bill.
- The seminal idea is decent. Intriguing questions are raised.
- In some other books, the narrator might be OK. His voice and manner are completely unobtrusive and neutral. He would do well with books that want a simple telling of story without inflection or distraction.

Negatives:

- Passive. Nearly nothing in the way of visualisation of *anything* except for a few characters.

- The intriguing questions that are raised never are addressed or answered. Sentient ships? Nah. Alien contact? Nope.

- This does not feel like a finished product from an experienced author. At the very least, this needs an aggressive editor. It reads more like a precis for a story than an actual story.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wish it was a series

Would you listen to Linesman again? Why?

Yes it has likeable characters in it.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Marie she has power and no power at the same time.

Have you listened to any of Brian Hutchison’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I don't think I have

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes I could listen to this book till the end

Any additional comments?

I like how the author left room to turn this book into a series and also how he made the characters more human with their flaws

7 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

fantastic

Simply fantastic. Creative technology/magic, intriguing universe and politics. Likeable and sympathetic characters. I'm glad to have found a new series to enjoy.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Hero kidnapped = Gasp! For the forth time = meh.

This book started out strong and then ran out of ideas and started repeating itself. The idea that space ship are run by mystical ley-line like bands of Platonic Forms is a cool one. And the set up of a self taught protagonist who has a unique way of interacting with these line is fun. I was very engaged as he was kidnapped from his life forced into service for a government he hated.

And then that theme just got repeated over an over again. Spoilers ahead...






After being bought into bondage our hero get caught up in a kidnapping attempt of on of the royal princesses.

Fortunately he is able to use his unique power to make a daring escape.

And then he is kidnapped again for that unique power.

And then in the middle of that kidnapping there was a coup and he's taken hostage by the by the the people over throwing his kidnappers.

Fortunately he is able to use his unique power to make a daring escape.

But hes still with his kidnappers and they threat him as bargaining chip.

Fortunately he is able to use his unique power to save his life.

And then there's a Star War Phantom Menace negotiation scene where alliances are change so that instead of two powerful space fairing power at odds with each other their are now two differently named power space fairing power at odds with each other.

And then the hero is told because of his power that he will never be free and must serve the original group who bought him into bondage forever.

And then the book ends. There are interesting mysteries in this book, but they are never solved or really addressed. It's just a constant repeating cycle of kidnapping and daring escapes accomplishing nothing with the hero's power solving everything when he remembers to use it.

It's not a bad book. I just wish it had a bit more meat in it and the author didn't lean on the same trope over and over again. If your looking for some fun sci-fi pulp action is not a bad book to pick up. But just like the Flash Gordan serials of old it doesn't stray very far from formula or resolve anything.

A solidly meh book. Not bad but not much to recommend. I enjoy it, but I'm not going to pick up anything else in the series.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Unexpected

For a book that contains a revolution, interplanetary war and multiple kidnappings, Linesman is surprisingly light on action scenes. Further even the protagonist's super power, which is the focus of the story, turns out rather unimpressed: He opens a few doors, links ships together and is used as a story telling device.
Despite or rather because of this the book ends up being enjoyable as we have the rare case of a powerless protagonists, reminding me a bit of Donaldson's 'Unbeliever' books. Instead the story is just a ride that introduces us to the oddities of this universe's space travel. Resembling magic as another reviewer described it, we and the characters essentially figure out the limitations as we go, with this feeling of discovery carrying the book.
Your enjoyment of the book will then depend on, if that is enough for you. The rest is all good workmanship. Characters are enjoyable and have their own small arcs, writing is solid and the narrator does a good job., albeit not elevating the material. For me the base concept of 'how about we treat space travel as magic' was enough to make me want to buy further books in the series.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Better than expected

Would you listen to Linesman again? Why?

Not really, this is fun pulp. I really like it though.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Linesman?

When you realize the main character is not just really good at his job, everyone else is shit at it!

Which scene was your favorite?

Can't really say, thought it was all good.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

Not really. This is classic pulp space fantasy, I love this shit.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

BORING

Because of the high marks that this book has received, I expected more. The narrator kept putting me to sleep because the story had little going for it.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

So many things will make me like a story

engaging characters, ingenious word building, an elegant plot, an interesting exploration of an intriguing idea from science, philosophy or economics, elegant phrasing... just one of these would have been enough for me to enjoy this book. As it was, I did not finish. I was unable to care about the protagonist and his angst about having to sing to get his magic powers, and the various plot developments which arose from nowhere and tended to be that the protagonist found a new power because the previous powers were getting boring. or something. At first I found it soporific and would listen to it to go to sleep; but then when it began to irritate rather than lull, I had to stop.

The narrator did a magnificent job given the material.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good book, but takes a while to understand Concept

The book is good, but I think the author could so a better job explaining what lines are earlier in the book. Even after listening to the entire story I don't fully understand what they are. He does tell you and maybe it's just the way my mind works that can't wrap my head around the idea. I will get the second book though.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • DebB
  • 09-15-15

Good, gentle to start but grabs and doesn’t let go

I really enjoyed this, and I’m not much of a SF reader on the whole. This was waved in front of my eyes by Audible at some point, and the reviews persuaded me to give it a go - that’s the good side of a subscription, for £7.99 you’re more willing to take a punt of something unknown.

Anyhow, this is set in classic Sci-Fi territory, space ships, military, unknown aliens, super fast travel, courtesy of ‘the lines’, but has a very human heart in Ean (spelt that way apparently) Lambert. It is mostly narrated by him, but about oh, I don’t know, 20%, maybe less, of the chapters are narrated by Franco (can’t remember if he’s a Frank, or a Franco…) Rossi.

Interstellar travel depends on the lines, and the lines need Linesmen to keep them serviced and reliable. There are, at the start anyhow, 10 known lines, with lines 9 and 10 responsible for travel through the void - a sort of hole in time and space that lets ships travel vast distances in no time. Lambert and Rossi are both Line 10 linesmen, as senior as you get, but Lambert is considered a weird misfit, ridiculed and dismissed by his peers, while Rossi is a politicking, patronising, arrogant so’n’so poised to take over his guild.

The book contains some politicking, but not too much, and there were times when I wanted Ean to grow a bit of backbone, but he is who and what he is, so I settled and came to like him! There are a host of supporting characters, generally well fleshed out, some backstabbing and derring-do, a nice developing mystery around the lines and the alien ship, and the last quarter or so was really gripping.

Well read with enough difference between the main characters, and with the women as well voiced by the narrator as the men. There’s a sequel due out February 2016 that I will be buying, with a third planned according to the writers’ web site. Recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful