Monday, March 31, 2014

Review::Fearful Symmetry (A Terran Empire Novel) by Ann Wilson

Fearful Symmetry A Terran Empire novelFearful Symmetry A Terran Empire novel by Ann Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fearful Symmetry (A Terran Empire Novel) by Ann Wilson

2568 CE
14 years after Hostage and 1 year before A Matter of Honor this novel tells the story that is recounted in A Matter of Honor. So there are spoilers if you read them out of sequence as did I.

In this story Ranger Esteban Tarlac is coerced into being taken to the home-world of the enemy. With a promise that there is a possibility to end the war and the threat that should he refuse his life will end right now; he finds he has little choice.

We start once more with the enemy, which seems to be a method of writing for Ann Wilson. It doesn't fail because we do need to build some empathy for the enemy in this story. The Captain of the Traiti ship does not agree with the notion of deception that will create the moment to capture a Ranger. And it's not just any Ranger but it Esteban Tarlac so the whole deception takes a lot of planning and forethought.

Tarlac finds out he has to join a Traiti clan and undergo an Ordeal which most likely will be his death. But should he survive it could mean the beginning to the end of the war.

In A Matter of Honor I felt there were some things including potential for inter-species romance that the author danced around and never developed and I had wondered if this was some personal preference of hers. This time there is no dancing around but there are some odd contingencies in this romance that you will have to read to understand. Needless it doesn't quite answer the burning question I had.

This novel does have a strong resemblance to a retelling of a Christ like story. Again you will have to read to see what I mean. There are also again elements that remind me of Babylon 5, which only enhance the suspicion that the published dates on these are not accurate, but if they are accurate it would be nice to know because that would make it all very curious.

We come narrowly close to a Deus ex machina solution at one point in the story, but overall it doesn't dominate the outcome and seems to work well within the story. There are enough bread crumbs spread throughout to help the reader think something like this is possible within this universe.

Once again this is a well told story with more tragedy and yet some hopefulness. Great SFF as usual with the caveat that it is not the Simon Pure variety.

So far with the Novels and short stories Ann Wilson has not disappointed me.

J.L. Dobias

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Review::A Matter of Honor (A Terran Empire Novel) By Ann Wilson

A Matter of Honor A Terran Empire novelA Matter of Honor A Terran Empire novel by Ann Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Matter of Honor (A Terran Empire Novel) By Ann Wilson

This novel was a pleasant surprise and it seemed to only be available in a creative commons license format. I really enjoyed it both for entertainment value and some of the thought provoking themes.

The Irschchan are a bipedal catlike race that have developed Telepathy and Telekinesis as a form of combat and defensive discipline.

They were already in possession of rudimentary space travel technology when the Terran's came and began changing their entire sociopolitical structure.

The story begins with a group known as the White Order who are plotting to overthrow the Terrans. There's as strong belief that the Terrans are unsuited to running the Empire since they have no higher mental functions such as the Irschchan do.

But by this time the Terrans influence is so entrenched that the younger generations of Irschchan have long since been tutored under the rule of the empire, and that is how Corina was raised.

Through training Corina's mental abilities have almost equaled to her mentor and because of this she accidentally discovers her White Order High Adept, Thark, is plotting an overthrow of the Terran Empire. When she senses this she has to make a quick decision to follow the White Order or betray them to the Empire. Once she decides her loyalties are to the empire she is marked for death as the only honorable way for her to be dealt with according to Irchchan cultural beliefs.

The novel was written back in the late 1990's is almost a blend of Star Wars and Star Trek and maybe even some Babylon 5. They have a mix of technologies and the technology seems to take a back seat because the story itself is more about the people and and a matter of honor. It also seems to be a tragedy.

At the beginning it's difficult to see that Corina is the main character because we start with a lot of Thark's point of view and then we go onto the Terran Ranger James Medart's point of view. But this is Corina's story and how her decisions change not only her life but the the life of all the Irchchan.

An interesting aspect of this story is that Ann Wilson does some very interesting framing to bring in back-story and some of the world building. She even uses a framing device to show the effect of Corina and James having their minds patterned during her attempt to teach James better control of his mental abilities.(It turns out Terrans have abilities that have remained latent. )This is important because it's one of the reasons Corina finally decides to become a Ranger and that very act sets up the main plot to the story and to the true tragedy of the rebellion.

Ann Wilson writes this in a crisp and clear multi-close-third point of view that she manages to use well enough to keep the reader interest in the story. And though she crafts a potential for romance, she manages to dance around and eventually ignore the whole thing which might be annoying to anyone expecting sparks to start flying. Similarly she creates potential character conflicts that don't get developed beyond a sort of tease phase. Still the overall strength of the story is still there without those elements developed and there is plenty of real tension and conflict to keep the reader entertained.

The final resolution might be a disappointment to lovers of overt action and conflict, but I think that's because it's written more as a tragedy.

Great stuff for fans of SFF with lots of familiar elements and really interesting characters.

J.L. Dobias

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Review::Thirsty Planet by Robert Tell

Thirsty PlanetThirsty Planet by Bob Tell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thirsty Planet by Robert Tell

This is a classic example of why we shouldn't judge a book by it's cover.(of course now the cover for the e-book has changed.) This one brought to mind-a steamy romance. I usually read the blurb and then read the sample. So I must have read the sample-or since I do have someone who likes steamy romances maybe they downloaded it. In which case it's a good thing for me they judge a book by it's cover-not so good for them- but quite good for me. I really enjoyed this story and it was both thought provoking and entertaining.

Oddly though it began in a way I usually hate- We have a nameless character who gets killed at the beginning, or it looks that way. It starts in the year 2121 with a dystopic world and this squatter is drifting across the water toward home with his cargo of stolen potable water. In a world that's under water and suffering from the effects of global warming-life seems cheap. Next we move back in time closer to us in the year 2022 where Cassie and Paul Lopez fight the evil corporate world that is turning a blind eye to global warming. This book contains a lot of arguments that I can't say I particularly agree with but they do make the story interesting and move it forward.

We quickly jump back to 2121 where Keesha Leder is our next victim while her husband is away at work. Dr. Moss Leder works at Pulsarsoft where they are working to find solutions to the global catastrophe. (The reader will soon learn that corporations and politics are still as troublesome in the future as they are to Paul and Cassie in the past.) Moss is secretly working on a time machine as his belief is that the only way to fix things is to be sure they never happen. He's kept his work secret from even his lab assistant. Only he and his wife knew of it and now it's just him, which is why he decides he has to tell his assistant, Zoe Reuel.

This story touches heavily on the corruption of government in 2022 and the blind eye of most people to the global warming. What helps it is that the future has all the earmarks of there being a true dilemma. In 2022 Paul and Cassie are dangerous to the people in power and need to be silenced. In the future the time machine Moss is building threatens those in power who have taken advantage of the global situation to remain in power. This is how these two stories are on the verge of converging.

In 2121 most people have abandoned religion, but somehow Robert Tell manages to weave religion into the whole story with a multi-religious Zionist movement that decides to help the people working on time travel. Everything goes wrong on both sides of the time equation until the time machine is ready.

The story almost ends abruptly-but not badly. The ending makes perfect sense and leaves much for food for thought. You will have to read it to find out.

Great SFF for fans of the genre-not so much a romance-good book to make you think without getting too heady about it. There's a lot of room between the last two chapters for a whole bunch of story that the reader gets to infer so who knows maybe someday Robert will decide to Tell us a bit about it.

There are some weird formatting issues with this book where paragraphs get separated in the middle but it's not something that I feel should cause the star system to collapse.

J.L. Dobias

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Review:Time Change (Book Three: The Way Back) by Alex Myers

Time Change Book Three: The Way BackTime Change Book Three: The Way Back by Alex Myers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time Change (Book Three: The Way Back) by Alex Myers

I think that Alex Myers writing is still quite solid in this iteration of the time series, but I have to side with the people who came out a bit disappointed. I think my disappointment might be hinging on some different factors.

The trouble with time travel novels is that once through the looking glass and then back to the future there are often changes that have rippled through the reality so unless you do as Marty Mcfly did and go further back you run the risk of immediately changing from a time travel novel to alternate history. Ultimately even after the first time through Mcfly was showing us altered history for at least portions of the story. The beauty of traveling forward is that you can do that with impunity and return to your own time with little change to worry about unless you change something through the influence the future had on you. Ah, the confusion of time travel epochs.

Even so as an alternate history this story didn't bother me and I enjoyed the chance to wrap up a few things with the characters and see some resolution. What blindsided me in this novel was that there were questions in my mind from the first novel that were presented by the prologue or first scene that don't fully get addressed or answered and I'd been under the impression that this was a trilogy so I was expecting some understandable conclusion for me to grip with my feeble mind.

Somehow I missed that and it disappointed me.

Still the end is good enough and satisfying enough that it's not a great disappointment that I might have to wait for more stories to come before all the answers arrive.

This is good solid writing for the SFF fan to grab onto and a great ongoing series in the now alternate universe of the Time Change novels.

J.L. Dobias

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review::The Beginning (Astronomicon)by Paul Vincent

The Beginning (Astronomicon, #1)The Beginning by Paul Vincent

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Beginning (Astronomicon)by Paul Vincent

I found this novel or set of novels to be entertaining. It has an interesting premiss that brings it close to notions captured in the novel 2001 Space Odyssey. But it starts out more like some typical first expedition chronicle. What I found difficult to swallow was the large cast of characters that are there in that hazy area characters get stuck in when dealing with a horror novel that promises to have a lot of scares and thrills.

In a way it's fitting that this is like a horror novel since the Astronomicon seems to derive out of the fictional term Necronomicon created by a horror classic great H.P. Lovecraft. So the first novel or part of this novel involves a long slow journey across a desolate cold planet woven together like a sort of mix of Eiger Sanction by Trevanian and Treasure of the Sierra Madre by B. Traven.

We start out on the Elysian-a vessel that will take a group of settlers of around 60 people to Proxima 3 around Proxima Centauri in the Alpha Centauri System(4.367 light year away). Everyone will be in stasis-frozen- for the thirteen year flight at speeds close to the speed of light. There will be three other ships headed out each for a different location. What is not really made clear is the reason mankind has chosen to send colonists that far and why split them up and why such a small number of settlers. The last might be explained in that there are more ships planned for later although you would think that if they were to be totally committed to this it would be cost effective to send as many as they can and send supplies in other ships. But you would also think they would concentrate on one planet at a time.

So to spice things ups and just like with the Jupiter 2 there is the threat of possible terrorist who want the missions to fail. These take the form of religious zealots-of course. So just before he gets into the freezer Chris our MC gets a message about a possible mole among the settlers which he can do nothing about at the moment but he's informed that Earth will notify him with more clues to help him when he thaws in approximately 13 years.

Just prior to entry to the system and readiness to slow to an entry orbit the Elysian suffers damage from what is supposed to have been a comet. Chris and a few others are brought out early and they lose one member to an explosion caused by a bomb. They thaw a few more people and hunt for more bombs as they speed toward their goal. They send the next bomb outside and possibly get some external damage when that blows. Then for some reason they seem to have no option but to land on the surface of the planet and send a distress signal although it would seem to have made more sense to just stay in orbit and wait there if help could come.

Nothing is definite because they have to communicate with Earth and somehow someone must decide if they should divert one of the other ships to rescue them Elysian so perhaps that drives the decision to land, which goes all way of bad and they crash, but not before they split the craft into three section and leave most of their survival gear strewn behind them. They have the entire group thawed out for the landing and the disaster takes a large portion of group.

This is where it starts to get like the Eiger Sanction. Chris and a group of the uninjured survivors must make a trek along the deadly terrain to retrieve the things they need to survive. Somehow after having been explosively separated during entry these parts may have survived the impact and remained intact so they can retrieve the supplies from them. Of course the terrain and the very cold atmosphere begin to slowly whittle down the team until they are down to a handful of which somehow the mole has survived. For me there was a bit of disappointment about who the mole was and then how dramatically they change from the character portrayed throughout. But it's all in the spirit of creating the conflict that leads to resolution and were close to the end of the first part which was called Voyage of the Elysian.

The second part(Discovery) departs from the excitement of the first and begins that quest that follows some parallels to 2001 Space Odyssey.

The colonists of the planet are from three of the four ships. One was destroyed and the other two were diverted to rescue the remnants of the survivors of Elysian. On this planet after a generation of new people are born; man finds an alien artifact.(I have some question as to why the first baby was born three years after they colonize, but that's just me.) Earth has ceased all colonization and the Colonist have been on their own and when they contact Earth about the possibility of alien artifacts they are not well received or believed. Earth is having it's own problems and even the colonization of the solar system is being backpedaled to Earth isolation.

This part of the story seems to be mostly filler and world building for the remainder of the books to come.

Both parts have strong stories that have been used before and have been successful in the past and this could well have maintained a 5 star for me if the second half could have survived the distancing that was set as the pace for the first half.

I think because the first was story of the rugged new planet and the survivors of a crash trying to survive the harsh environment the reader gets the planet as a major player and that eclipses the main characters. Add to that that one of those at the very least has to be the traitor and you have this distancing from the main characters that never really gets the reader into any of the characters leaving the plot the story and the scenes to carry the whole and it works well for the first story. It seems to stick with the reader into the second story and even though we Still have Chris and Kate from the first story there is no real settled character that the reader is allowed to zero in on. So once again the plot the story and scene and technology have to carry the story and this time the astronomicon just doesn't do it.

We have a monolith type block that seem impenetrable and a bit obtuse painting a picture where there is some great old race that created it and has seeded the universe with intelligent life for some obscured reason that we won't get cleared up about in these two parts. It all begins to sound like that shadow race of Babylon 5 who want to set the seeded intelligences against each other as the one means of survival of the fittest. Only so far it's not even that clear yet; only that there seems to be a goal of setting intelligent races against each other.

Meanwhile mankind is doing a fair job against itself in the solar system.

There are a lot of good ideas drawn together here in an ambitious stepping stone to a larger series which I will be interested in following.

This is good stuff for the SFF fans and even the (Simon purists) although there are some caveats with that; where realism is stretched a bit thin. There's at least one rapid decompression scene that's more reminiscent of Arnold's character in Total Recall than in reality. (honestly-do not hold your breath it will just make it more painful and damage more quickly.) Well to be honest I have not yet tried this so I can't say from experience.

J.L. Dobias

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Review::Sentinel by Joshua Winning

Sentinel (Sentinel Trilogy, #1)Sentinel by Joshua Winning

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sentinel by Joshua Winning

This is another of those books I can love to hate. You want to give it the benefit of the doubt because it really is a well told story in many ways. There are few if any problems with the grammar and though there is a small amount of hopping back and forth between characters it's not enough to drive you out of the story. And the story is a really nice story with well paced action and story development. What is missing is the heart of the story for me. I usually like the characters in the story more than the story itself. Especially when the story is one that's been told many times already. Unfortunately here we have a twice told tale with mediocre characters.

This story starts out sounding like Harry Potter. We have the orphaned boy- a bit older than Harry was when he was orphaned, but the boy is the main character and has a pivotal role that involves a nasty evil that wants to get its clutches on him. This story also talks of myths or legends or fables, often in a sort of tongue and cheek manner while trying to impress upon the reader that we are headed into the the gritty realism of these fables. As with the potter stories we have the division of factions some good and some evil and the tipping of the scales as some of the good are turned to the evil side.

There are many good and winning moments in the story and the telling of the story, but there is also a bit of deliberate withholding of information and obfuscation to deliberately mislead the reader perhaps in the same tone as some fable lead the reader down one path only to throw the moral or final outcome in their face as a sort of jarring reality. Much of the time Nicholas is asking for answer from people who have the answers but fail to give them not because they are dying before telling or they are too busy fighting for their survival (although that one is a close call), but mostly because they say it's not time. Which mean in this case it's not time to let the reader know what's going on and that's what hurts the most in this book. There are so many deliberate red herrings and misdirections and left off explanation that by the time the reader receives the picture it's really too late and it become almost the deus ex machina except in this book it works primarily toward the evil's benefit.

All of this would have worked for me if the characters had been allowed more dominance in the story, but I felt constantly that the story was what this was all about and the characters really didn't matter. That proves out by the ease with which the evil is often finally thwarted despite it's having all these godlike powers. Nicholas is constantly a so so character throughout the narrative and though many other support characters have the grit and determination that it takes for the task Nicholas seem short shrifted with just the distinction of being the one person who is suppose to help overcome the evil(he has a long way to go).

Even so this is a trilogy and we are left still wondering about what significant power Nicholas has or if his power might be that he has only little power. And once again I will emphasize that this would work if the reader were given as much a picture of Nicholas in all his timidity as they are the bloody battle scenes that he rarely gets to participate in.

There's definitely enough action and suspense to keep the story moving and for that I'm giving this high marks for entertaining with a fairly solid story and well paced suspense. Unfortunately characterizations and the ending reminded me a lot of the movie Howard the Duck.

This is still a good Young Adult Fantasy Fable type of story for those fans of youthful world savers. It has an interesting story that is a blend of several other stories and plenty of suspense for those who like the thrill of a chase. I will be checking to see how well Nicholas develops in the next two books.

J.L. Dobias

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review::Shifter Evolutions Bundle, Books 1-5 of SciFi Shifter Dystopia Romantic Suspense by Ami Blackwelder

Shifter Evolutions Bundle, Books 1-5 of SciFi Shifter Dystopia Romantic SuspenseShifter Evolutions Bundle, Books 1-5 of SciFi Shifter Dystopia Romantic Suspense by Ami Blackwelder

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shifter Evolutions Bundle, Books 1-5 of SciFi Shifter Dystopia Romantic Suspense by Ami Blackwelder

I really enjoyed reading this collection of books and my enjoyment is what saved it from being tossed to the side. This is one of those sets of books you can learn to love-hate. The story is a good tale well told in many ways, but there are style choices that seem constantly to be at odds with that and that's what kept it from being a five star collection for me.

The books themselves appear to have been written in a rather strange order. In this collection they show up chronological- which is good- but it seems they were written in a much different order. The last or fifth story was the first written while the first appears to be the last or fifth written. The third is the second written and the forth is the third and the second is the forth. But for sanity they are in chronological order to the dates of the occurrences in the story. The actual sequence they were written in serves mostly as a curious thing to keep in mind in regards to some of the style choices. For me the reason I highlight this is because I liked the last book in this series which was the first written and it is written in a different style from the others.

The fifth book, the one I liked the most, is written in first person POV from the character April. I think because it was easy to identify with her and what was happening to her and the realization of what was happening around her brought me more fully into the story than the other four books.

The four other books are written in what looks like close third or multi-third POV. If we were to subscribe the the notion of head hopping then I would think this book qualifies so for those who are annoyed by head hopping be warned. This seems to be the style choice for this set of the first four in the series and it took me a while to get used to it. Even more than that though is that there are times when the narration steps away and the reader is given more information than the present close third POV should know and it is close to being Omniscient Third POV. This could possibly be considered the subjectivity/objectivity axis and after I read for a while and understood what was going on it was easier to read. This style is unusual to what I normally read but it seems, from the little I have seen, to be used in many different types of Romance novels and a few of the Horror or Paranormal Genre. After getting acclimated to it, the choice does seem to work well for these stories.

The problem for me is that I couldn't get enough focus on any character to get into the story through the characters and had to rely on the story itself to draw me in. In this case the themes of prejudice and oppression of those who are different and the struggles for power within the oppressive government forces and even the interaction within those oppressed were all enough to keep the story interesting.

An easy comparison in the first story in this series would be to the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I chose this because there is a similarity in the atmosphere at the beginning to that which was in both versions of that movie. Also the first movie from the 1950's could compare as a first person account whereas the more recent version seemed to have been produced as a multi close third type of story which is what this novels style took on. You have this same feeling that something has happened and something might be visiting our planet, but it is all quiet and mostly normal while the bits and pieces of evidence begin to pile up. This story-the 2020 timeline starts with Uri and Julie (Uri shows up later in other parts) and their friends. We will be introduced to Samantha and Raul (Who will be carried through out most of the series)Frenier, Marn, Dray, and Lane (all show up throughout)- Most of these are part of the SCM Shifter Counter-insurgency Military. Then we have a whole list of alien names that are relate to colors since they initially are identified by their different colors. Those alien's names will change when they take on human personalities.

Captain Raul who eventually becomes a general is insane for power and has an unreansonable prejudice against the Shifters. Samantha Croon is a scientist who lost her brother, she thinks that the Shifters killed him and she's out for revenge. A tragedy in the five stories is that she never finds out who killed her brother although the reader does.

Lieutenant Marn is important to the stories because he works under Raul and has a daughter, Melissa, who will also work for the SCM. Melissa shows up in all five stories. To go into too much more detail might give up too much to spoil the story.

The stories all contain an element of tragic love amid the atmosphere of hate and bigotry. The hate and bigotry drive Raul to lack any sense of morals or justice in his quest for power. Everyone caught within his wake is either captivated by mutual desires for power or out right fear of the mad man. It's interesting to note that his quest will ultimately lead him to becoming in all ways worse than his perceived enemy.

The aliens are mostly on a quest to survive although they get caught up in the tragedies just as much as all the humans. And the human population is stuck between with reliance on the military and Raul to guide them with accurate intelligence and superior power. The stories constantly pose that question of how far do we let our leaders take us before we become responsible for the criminal injustice that they commit.

Initially the aliens are also to blame because they approach life on earth almost in a Pollyanna or Candide type of naivete that causes them to treat the military threat almost like a game at the beginning. Once again in the middle are humanity and eventually the Hybrids that the aliens produce.

Ami Blackwelder has a lot of five star stuff in this piece and the thing that dissipates it for me is the style of the first four novels pushed me far enough away that I had to rely on every other element besides the characters because there was no single character that I could feel for or feel with throughout until the final story with April. I suppose that this does create the effect of more closely examining the issues that Ami is addressing in the stories, which is one plus to the style choice.

This is good thought provoking reading for any lovers of Dystopic Romances and some who like SFF and enjoy suspense thrillers.

I'm definitely looking forward to the next Shifter novel.

J.L. Dobias

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Review::War of Honor (Honor Harrington #10) by David Weber

War of Honor (Honor Harrington, #10)War of Honor by David Weber

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

War of Honor (Honor Harrington #10) by David Weber

The two times that I have read this I think I came up with the same problem. A person that is used to David Weber and his Honor Harrington series has to slog through about two hundred pages of stuff before things start looking up. One begins to wonder if it is a matter of having so many successes already that it seems important to beat a dead horse. The oddest part of all of that is that much of what is in those pages might be there as a sort of primer for the new reader. After all this is at ten plus book series now and there is a lot of back-story and world building that has taken place. So we do need some of this for background and it is nice to refresh our memories, even those of us who have been with Honor and David from the beginning.

I think I enjoyed this much better the second time through and that might be because I have been going through the series again trying to pay extra attention to the details that normally would put me to sleep. Unfortunately that means that it took about 5 days to get to page 200 and then there were still 680 pages to go.

I remember a long time ago I read Dumas. The Count of Monte Cristo, the Three Musketeers and the Man in the Iron Mask. I was fueled to read them by the movies I had seen and of course was expecting a lot of swash and some buckle in there. I think that the frustration of that experience might best explain the frustration of the experience of reading this massive volume. It's difficult to just say that much of this could have been said with fewer word. Much easier to just complain that perhaps it could have been more entertaining. The funny thing is that the parallels that are drawn from reality to David's Honor universe are in a different time which is one reason I have to wonder how it is it feels like they are coming from the era that Dumas was writing about.

I should be thankful that its not as comparable to the experience I had trying to read Don Quixote, but then I think that was a matter of things not coming through in translation.

Once this did kick in it got interesting to me and there were things I remembered from last time that I was paying particular attention to. The affair between Honor and Hamish for one thing, and the ever forgiving nature of Emily within the whole construct. And of course the increasing level of participation of the TreeCats in the whole mix. A little too convenient that Nimitz's spouse some how manages to adopt Hamish, but it does help heat that situation up a bit.

This book concentrates a lot on the politics of things and the dynamics behind the scenes and the reason that things fail on both ends of the negotiation table. Haven now has a brighter future in the choice of leaders and by an act of Haven the Star Kingdom has managed to have it's heads of state turned into addelbrains. Well they were already a bit off, they just were not in charge until this book.

The Andermani Empire is starting to show its muscle and looking to strengthen its position and to move the Star Kingdom out of its territory with action in the Silesian Confedracy which will bring Honor to Sidemore as she tries to remover herself from the public eye. Manticor's new government is dragging its feet at the negotiation table and infuriating her own allies, leaving an opening for Haven to do an end-run around them by enticing their allies way from them. There is an almost unbelievable comedy of errors with the communication back and forth from Manticor to Haven that's a bit hard to swallow but this will lead to resumption of war.

Possibly the biggest letdown is that the battles are mostly so so battles. This especially after all the time spent about the misinformation between both camps capabilities and their planning or lack thereof; the battles themselves just seem to fall flat.

The up-side to this is that the whole thing will finally position things where everyone is still at war and possibly the best people on both sides will have a chance to face off. The problem is that David Weber is weaving a tale that might have you rooting for both sides when everything finally hits the fan.

Still great stuff for SFF-Military Space Battle -Political Intrigue lovers. I suggest anyone new to these novels get their feet wet by starting at the beginning where it's only shallow because there are not as many pages involved.

J.L. Dobias

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