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“Very interesting read. It is one of my favorites.”see full review » see other reviews »
Didn’t Like It1 of 1 members found this review helpful
“1 1/2 stars
“The tale my reading this book actually begins a couple years ago, when Borders was closing. I saw it then, wanted to read it, but already had a tall stack of books I was planning to buy, and I couldn't justify the wildcard addition.
Not that Kevin J. Anderson is a wildcard author. I have read much of his work in the Star Wars universe, and - in general - I enjoy his writing. Having said that, though, I had never read his original work, so this book was beyond the scope of my knowledge, and I wasn't sure I wanted to own it.
Now that I have read it, the short version is that while I am glad that I read it, I am also glad that I did not purchase it.
Let me reiterate that I am glad that I read it. To go along with that, I intend to continue reading the series (I have already requested the second book from the library). A lot of this is delightfully original, with the worldforest and the green priests and the hidden histories that have yet to be revealed (if they ever will be, which makes the universe a pleasantly real place). The characters are (mostly) compelling, and the propensity with which Mr. Anderson slays his characters is even more compelling. (Usually, the only signal that a character will die soon is their own admission that everything seems to be going well.)
I also appreciated his treatment of religion. While I don't agree with the suggested route religion takes in Mr. Anderson's universe (that is to say, I don't think it will happen that way), he is also fair to religious folks in his representation of them. While religions are officially "unified," Anderson admits that they are united under a meaningless figurehead; there are also still adherents to the original religions present on many worlds. This is far more accurate than the typical treatment of religion in science fiction, which is constituted of the erroneous belief that common space travel will disabuse us primitives of our silly religious sensibilities. (Ergo, I appreciate Mr. Anderson's work in this regard.)
There are reasons, however, that I do not feel urged to own this book. First and foremost, and the only real showstopper in this regard, is the sexual content. While there is nothing explicit or graphic, there is still frank discussion of sexual activity. Provided it keeps away from pornographic content (which this book does, or I would not be continuing in the series), I have no problem reading that myself, but if we're talking about a book I want to keep around the house, and around my family, then it's going to have to be one hell of a book besides that.
And for all its pleasantness, this wasn't "one hell of a book." There are several science fiction tropes, such as alien benefactors bringing humanity into the rest of the galaxy, extinct predecessors leaving behind odd clues, machines that may or may not have any memories of the past, space gypsies, and an unfathomable enemy bent on genocide (another more recent source of all of these tropes is the video game Mass Effect, for example). These ideas have cropped up before, and they will crop up again (and, I readily admit, some of them are in my own writing). This use of tropes is not "unoriginal," or at least, not in a bad way. It's familiar, and it makes the universe easier to grasp (and with how many original ideas Mr. Anderson does include, any help grasping the universe is welcome). Even so, this use makes it "genre fiction," not "incredible fiction." Which is fine.
Long story short, it's a good, solid book. I look forward to reading the next one. You may love it enough to own it, especially without my reservations.”
“It is a typical opening book for a series. A lot of ground work for the story-line and not very many surprises. I might chance the second one and see how I go. Also I am not sure about the narrative style of small character centric chapters, numbering well over 100.”P. Miller wrote this review Friday, January 25, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Very entertaining. Kevin does sometimes have a habit of repeating facts - too frequently - but the concepts in this series are very interesting and it is an entertaining read.”Roger Elwell wrote this review Sunday, October 21, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A little slow to start but each chapter is very short making for what feels like quick reading. Each chapter is written from a different person's viewpoint and may have nothing to do with the previous chapter or the next chapter at all; can be frustrating when you're attempting to keep plot points together.
Took a few day because of the slow start but ended up just how I thought it would. Looking forward to the next ones.”
“Folly. Sheer and utter folly.”Black Catriona wrote this review Sunday, November 6, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“1 1/2 stars
Ugh. I had (perhaps too) high hopes for this series. I am a sucker for the long series and I do love a good space opera, however, this has given me pause for future tales. The storyline had potential, humans xeno-archaeologists find a device from an ancient insect-like race called the Klikiss that is called The Klikiss Torch. What it does is turn giant gas planets into stars by creating a wormhole allowing something dense (like a neutron star) to be "gated" into the gas giants thus providing the necessary mass to turn the planet on and into a star. Only problem, there is a race of aliens called the Hydrogues that live (unbeknownst to humans) in the very gas planet they attempt to turn into a star, thus killing off millions of those aliens. Well those aliens have decicded to attack back killing anything that enters their cloud giants (which they apparently inhabit about every known one). The wrinkle to this story is that the cloud giants is where humans do their hydrogen farming for their star drives, so we get a tension, and the beginnings of a war. There is also another race of aliens called the Ildirans who are loosely allied with humans and there are many colonized human planets in this story but one that is trulu indepent of Earth called Theroc where the world forest (a semi sentient tree originates).
This idea is tailor made for a 7 book space opera, sadly that is about the only good thing I can say about book 1. The writing was bordering on unreadable. There were sentence construction that I had to read twice to make myself believe that I really had read what I read. And Anderson's overuse of personification got to be a bit too much at times. He describes a metal sphere as hovering impatiently at one point. How does it do that? Was it tapping its foot? Looking at its watch? Then in the next sentence he described some of its steam venting as looking like an impatient dragon. In another part of the book, one of the Ildirans was talking to another character telling that character about an ancient story from their sagas (and earlier we are told how much Ildirans love to tell stories and hear stories) but instead of hearing the story itself, we only get a description of the Ildiran "telling" the story to the other character. And that was the major problem of this book which I call the Show and Tell Problem. It's not enough to tell me something, you need to be able to show me and then let me come to the same conclusion you wish for. Good writers can do that, or good writers are comfortable in letting me draw disimiliar conclusions to what they might have anticipated. Kevin J. Anderson cannot do this. He must tell you what you are to think and how he wants you to view some tension to get the desired results he wants. How many times will his characters in the book "show grim resolve"? Why not show me grim resolve and let me come to the conclusion that the character is grimly resolved to defeat those aliens?
Another problem with Anderson's writing is his inability to not over describe some fact. In the storyline, one of the main characters has a brother and a father die, leaving him responsible for the family's water mining operation on this ice planet. Everytime this character thinks about losing a major part of his family, he "feels the weight of his burndens" everytime and then he realizes his four uncles have come in to help him with the business. Ok, tell me once is fine, I got that part, but Anderson tells us about this character's uncles at least five times throughout the novel and how they are helping the family out, lest we forget.
The layout of this novel is in the form of short chapters centering on one character, then another chapter jumping to another character, then another and so on. The chapters are fairly short and thus it feels like you really fly through the book, however, with such disjointed storytelling, and with a cast of thousands, there is a lot of jumping around at first. The first one hundred and fifty pages seem like introductory which is odd since the beginning of the storyline, the first action, takes place almost immediately. With a more conventional method of storytelling Anderson could have accomplished character development as well as moving the plot along in a much more convenient fashion and (no doubt) reducing a 600+ page novel to around 300 pages.
There were some good points I should, well, point out. The idea of an ancient wipe-out race being explored by xeno-archaeologists is attractive but it never really develops, and the idea that the ancient race left behind robots that are still around but have a memory wipe is a good idea as well, but again is not really developed (until literally the last few pages of the novel). The priests on Theron, that tend to the sentient trees eat a fungus when they move from acolyte status to priest status that changes their skin green, thus they have the saying "taking on the green", and there is another group of humans that wander space, almost like gypsies, called Roamers and which the Earthling call "roachers": small saying like that provide a glimpse into the potential of a developed world but sadly never gets really developed.
I really stuggled with this one. At times it was almost unreadable to me. I may pick up book 2, but will do so down the road. But if the writing does not (drastically) improve, I will not continue the series.”
“Predictible; not believable.”Mike wrote this review Wednesday, August 3, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Decent Book - didn't really get into it as much as others. I'll do a better review when complete.”Kurtis wrote this review Friday, April 29, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No