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Janissaries (Janissaries #1)

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  1,037 ratings  ·  40 reviews
They knew they were going to die...Surrounded bu Cuban "advisors," and 'Nationalist Front" native Marxists, they knew that if they fought on they would be annihilated. If they surrendered there would be a show-trial first, but death lay at the end of that road too. There was, however, a third alternative...

Thus begins a spectacular novel of High Adventure, the newest and b
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Paperback , 336 pages
Published November 1st 1983 by Ace Books (first published January 1st 1979)
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Mike (the Paladin)
I am a bit royally ticked about this book. See I like it. I've liked other books by the writers they have turned out some great science fiction (and science fantasy). Much of it with plenty of action, a lot of it with thought provoking ideas.

The book's great. I sort of stumbled over it after seeing it reviewed and recommended here. Went to the library web-sight and there it was. Hoopla had it in audio all I had to do was download it.

It's not a totally new idea human soldiers from earth get tra
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Fantasy Literature
Captain Rick Galloway and the soldiers he commands were surrounded by hostile enemies when the flying saucer arrived and offered them a way out of certain death. They had to take it. Now they’re on a planet called Tran where they’re expected to oversee the growth and harvest of a marijuana-like plant which their alien “saviors” collect and distribute on the black market when it ripens every 600 years. A human woman named Gwen has also been dumped on the planet after her boyfriend, who was workin ...more
Jim
A quick, but interesting group of ideas. Plenty of action with a neat balance between high & low technology. There were a lot of neat themes that played out quickly. My edition is a paperback with a lot of good drawings in it. I think I would have liked the book better if the ideas had been more fully developed, but that might have taken volumes.
Dirk Grobbelaar
Well, this is quite far removed from the stuff Pournelle did with Larry Niven. I've enjoyed the books of the latter, as well as the collaborations between the two authors, so it was only a matter of time before getting around to one of Pournelle's solo outings. Janissaries appears to be quite popular, and I can see why, it does have a pulpy, old school charm interspersed with some darker elements that is somewhat appealing. The only problem that I had with this novel was that I thought it wasn't ...more
Rachel MacNaught
Grand story, awesome premise and absolutely no substance. Not a single element of storytelling is implored here. It's a concept, a rough sketch. "They did this and then went here. Everyone now is fluent in Latin. Now it is two years later. Something occurs. It's now a week later."

I was bored to death. Which frankly sucks because the concept is awesome. Planets around the universe in which humans were transplanted centuries ago, taking the current culture at the time with them. The variables coul
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Ron
The first of these earth warrior adbucted to fight aliens low-tech wars I read. Not the best. That's probably be Poul Anderson's The High Crusade.

Still, a good read
Connor Kennedy
Like “Gilligan’s Island”, this book follows the adventures of a group of people stranded on a planet billions of miles from Earth. Unlike “Gilligan’s Island”, there are no laughs, and they are not the only ones stranded on the planet. A group of aliens have been snatching humans from Earth every 600 years and leaving them on this uncharted planet. A place where civilization is similar to the Roman Empire circa 400 AD.

The best part of this book is the battle between the Barbarians and the Romans.
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Ian Anderson
The book centres around Rick Galloway, who is the new comer to an alien world. Selected for his military training, it is his obsession with military history and openness to other knowledge puts him into an advantageous position.

The book is written in the third person, Jumping from one character to another, usually at chapter boundries. The action is fast paced and modern readers can check the historic references in Wikipedia etc.

There is a contact between humans and aliens in this book, includin
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Jaye
The premise of this book is very similar to David Drake's Ranks of Bronze. A team of soldiers fighting Cubans in Africa is rescued from certain death by a group of aliens. After a brief stay in a station hidden on Earth's moon, they are transported to a distant planet to conquer the natives there and grow drugs for the aliens. It's not that simple, of course. There is infighting between the American soldiers themselves, and they attach themselves to different factions of the "natives" (all broug ...more
Aaron
This book has an interesting story to tell. I didn't care for all of the characters, but the plot had some nice twists at the end that took it from "average" to "above average." The way that the story was structured was perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book. The first chapter introduces the Captain, the second chapter introduces Gwen, and the third chapter introduces you to Tylara, the last main character. Their paths have not intersected by the end of the third chapter, and the book i ...more
M. J.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jack
I've always liked modern day soldiers going back in time, the concept for me has always really thrilled me. I just really like how they build an army and then kick-ass. It's nice.

Sadly, that was its only redeeming point in this book. Its character were quite annoying. More so, Gwen. Gwen is an ugly, angry, abandoned, smart/really stupid girl that will drive readers up the wall with her superior cryptic shit that she pulls over the readers and the main hero.

The series, is a lot different from the
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Kat  Hooper
Captain Rick Galloway and the soldiers he commands were surrounded by hostile enemies when the flying saucer arrived and offered them a way out of certain death. They had to take it. Now they’re on a planet called Tran where they’re expected to oversee the growth and harvest of a marijuana-like plant which their alien “saviors” collect and distribute on the black market when it ripens every 600 years. A human woman named Gwen has also been dumped on the planet after her boyfriend, who was workin ...more
A J
As a military sci-fi ... this one is interesting enough ... however ... it and its 2 sequels suffer from way too many minor and under developed characters and too many amorphous locations/large scale battle movements to keep track of ... a lot like the major failings of Destroyermen .. AND the series is unfinished ... books four and five having been planned and promised for over 2 decades .. author is now in his 80's ... cannot recommend any higher than 3 stars
Blanton
One of my favorite books. The first book of three. I recently reread this last year and it was just as good the second time around. It is a blend of 20th-century mercenaries, alien abduction, Roman legions, medieval warfare and politics.

A band of CIA backed mercenaries find themselves on the losing side of Cold War era conflict in an unnamed African country. They are saved from certain death by aliens and whisked away to a remote planet to suppress the local populace. The inhabitants of this pl
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Jon Estle
I found a copy of this book in my Dad's den. The cover intrigued me. Something about the book hooked me. I read it cover to cover in just a few days. (More than my Dad did btw, I found a bookmark about 30 pages in). When they switch to the people already one the alien planet, its a little jarring, but overall good writing. I understood everyone's motivation. Jerry Pournelle is a classic sci fi author. At least one of his books should be on every one's list.
Imota
First two chapters are exceptional. However, the medieval battle scenes on the primitive planet are tiresome. We see a lot of actions, a lot of intrigues, but little of real drama. The book reminds me of John Carter's adventures on Mars in "A Princess of Mars" by Edgar Rice Burroughs, but with some new motifs and thought-provoking ideas.
Pruitt
I originally read this book not long after it was originally published a little over 30 years ago. I came across it the other day and decided to re-read it.

This book is an easy read about a group of U.S. soldiers on a CIA operation that has gone all wrong, and just before they would be overrun and killed, are rescued by aliens who offer them a chance to live if they'd take on a job for them. It eventually turns out this job is on another planet, inhabited by the descendants of other humans who h
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Andreas
The story is rather cliche and it has been done before. Alien race kidnaps band of earth soldiers. Commander of band is a student of military history. Band is plonked down on an alien world inhabited by primitive humans. Mayhem ensues.

Nothing like an old seventies classic, down to the black and white illustrations. Pournelle does well when there is a strong military component. I did not have great hopes for this title, but it grew on me. Both the macroplot (the aliens) and the microplot (showing
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David
Read this years ago, I remember enjoying it pretty well. Basically, you have a bunch of mercenaries who have been sent on a suicide mission by the CIA. They get abducted by aliens, who tell them that since they're supposed to be dead anyway, no one will miss them. Then they're taken to another planet, where it turns out the aliens have been relocating Earthlings for centuries. It's basically a medieval world with its own history and cultures, but the 20th century soldiers upset the balance of po ...more
Martin Glen
Read this after it being mentioned by Jo Walton as an old favourite, but found it an underwhelming experience. The premise had promise (modern-day human soldiers dumped on a medieval-tech world introduce innovative ideas and disruptive tech to whip native ass), but the execution was stilted and frankly unrealistic. The characters were barely-drawn cyphers, and every female one fails the Bechdel test in true classic Golden Age SF style (see Dune for a contemporary which does not, for the most par ...more
Matthew
Jan 11, 2015 Matthew is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book. I did not read it for a long time due to the title. The soldiers in the book are kidnapped and marooned on a planet to complete a mission, but are not fanatical slaves soldiers of some empire.
Timothy Chamberlain
The epitome of cheesy and fun. A group of Earth soldiers find themselves far from home on a world similar to the civilizations of long ago (Romans, Scots, etc.). History gets condensed and the future approaches quickly.

It's not the most inspired writing, but I enjoyed the adventure. The illustrations were reminiscent of the "Great Illustrated Classics." Not sure if they really added much to the story, but they certainly did not take anything away.

Recommended for all those who have a couple hou
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John
1988 grade B+

written with Green
Derek
Apr 25, 2008 Derek rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: SciFi, military, historical buffs
I love this book and just passed it along to my 12-year-old son, who read it in one sitting. The whole idea of aliens kidnapping military units from throughout history has been done before. In fact, I still enjoy watching my copy of Dr. Who's War Games. In this book, however, even with modern weapons and 20th Century tactics, the hero is forced to fight with proven methods of Roman legions. It doesn't have to make sense, but this book has always been in my top 25, no matter how many good ones I ...more
Yongyoon
Poor writing, horrible characterization, and horrible universe. This type of writing can be seen by great high school and college writers, but it is horrible for a novel written by an adult and one whose job it is to write.

1 good thing: The battle with the pike and longbow formation used in this novel was also first used by me in Stainless Steel. It shows that I do know military strategy.
Brittany
A fun romp of an adventure novel. An interesting adventure story with somewhat reasonable female characters. A quick, enjoyable read.

Another recommendation from What Makes This Book So Great.
Christian
What begins with a dull premise perks up a bit as the grander scope is revealed. Though bogged down in overdone military maneuvers mixed with plenty of "what-if" head-scratching, it is ultimately an entertaining enough read for a summer day.
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Dr Jerry Eugene Pournelle is an American science fiction writer, engineer, essayist, and journalist, who contributed for many years to the computer magazine Byte, and has since 1998 been maintaining his own website and blog.

From the beginning, Pournelle's work has centred around strong military themes. Several books describe the fictional mercenary infantry force known as Falkenberg's Legion. Ther
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More about Jerry Pournelle...

Other Books in the Series

Janissaries (3 books)
  • Clan and Crown (Janissaries, #2)
  • Storms of Victory  (Janissaries, #3)
Falkenberg's Legion  (Falkenberg's Legion, #2) King David's Spaceship Prince of Mercenaries (Falkenberg's Legion, # 1) West Of Honor Prince of Sparta (Falkenberg's Legion, Book 4)

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