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Hammerfall (The Gene Wars #1)

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3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  926 ratings  ·  43 reviews
One of the most renowned figures in science fiction, C.J. Cherryh has been enthralling audiences for nearly thirty years with rich and complex novels. Now at the peak of her career, this three-time Hugo Award winner launches her most ambitious work in decades, Hammerfall, part of a far-ranging series, The Gene Wars, set in an entirely new universe scarred by the most vicio...more
Mass Market Paperback, 440 pages
Published July 30th 2002 by Harper Voyager (first published 2001)
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Mary JL
Dec 27, 2011 Mary JL rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Any SF or fantasy fan
Recommended to Mary JL by: I am a fan of this author
Shelves: main-sf-fantasy
I'm back! Some health issues--and a volunteer project had delayed reviews. You didn't think you were going to get rid of me THAT easily, did you?:)
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Marak had always known he was mad. since his sixth years he had heard voices in his head! "Marak! Marak! Marak!" and the compulsion to go east.

As the son of a chief his mother proected him and his father pretended to ignore it. Then, the secret came out. Marak's...more
Lindsay Stares
Premise: Marak Trin is a madman. Like many, he tried to hide it - did successfully hide it for years. But finally the visions and the voices were too much, and when the Ila's men came rounding up the mad, his father the rebel leader surrendered him to the soldiers, and made a kind of peace with the Ila. All the mad are being brought across the desert to the holy city, for the Ila herself to judge. The Ila knows an opportunity when she sees one, and Marak will have a chance to solve the riddle of...more
Emotonal Reads
This author lost me here, I was looking for Science fiction, but after that orgy in the desert,no thanks. What did any of the things that has happened sexually has to do with SCI FI?
Why is that the black woman always a barbarian, uncooth and demands to have another woman in bed with them. I mean really, I was truyly enjoying this book until that episode in the desert. I thought it was going to be the strong woman having her mans back once they got together, but spoils it with what was a menage....more
Thoraiya
I expected to love this book. The first 130-odd pages flew by in what seemed an instant. Then it got repetetive. Expected revelations weren't. Paragraphs started to seem too similar to what I'd already read. Characters' relationships didn't change. The urgency was lost. I was sad. If you've never read Cherryh before, I would recommend starting with Cyteen or the Faded Sun trilogy for SF lovers, or the Fortress trilogy for fantasy lovers.
Brian Gordon
Marak is going mad. Plagued by visions and fits, he has been deemed unclean and cast out by his father. He has now been sent on a desperate quest by the living Godhead known as the Ila that he has fought against his entire life.

The initial 150-200 pages of the book drew me in. The rest is derivative with virtually no details that matter. You can skip pages at a time and lose nothing. The ending was predictable and I found myself reading to just finish the book rather than reading because I enjo...more
Robert Laird
For those that don't read sf, they might find the first 5-10 pages of most sf novels hard to deal with because most sf authors make assumptions about the reader. And, subsequently, most sf readers know to "hang in there" because soon enough it will start to make sense. Cherryh probably takes this assumption about the reader and extends it double or triple.

It really took a lot of "hang in there" to get to the point where I felt like I knew what was going on. Having finished the story, there is st...more
Lis Carey
This is sf written very much like a fantasy. The technology might as well be magic, for the extent to which Marak Trin Tain and his companions understand it. What it really is, of course, is nanotechnology, and spaceships, and tossing asteroids and comets around as needed. Only a small portion of this world, the Lahkt, is really habitable, and that's due mainly to nanotechnology, and conditions are still at best very harsh.

Marak and most of his companions are mad, or what is called mad on the La...more
Stephen
I found it interesting to go from C.J. Cherryh's Morgaine Saga (written early in her career) to the relatively recent Hammerfall. The books feel similar enough that I can tell they were written by the same author, but the writing in Hammerfall is much better. C.J. Cherryh's style is simple and evocative. It's a real pleasure to read a book written by someone so skilled with words.

The story of Hammerfall is simple: our protagonist, Marak, is on a road trip. Against this background, we watch Mara...more
Elisa Berry
Found her through Sargent's sci-fi collections. Cherryh is one of the few female hard/military sci-fi writers (see Downbelow Station). This one is not though and may even be considered more fantasy: on a desert planet, an unlikely group of people plagued with voices and visions of similar ilk, heading east to seek the source of their madness.

Cherryh's prose is unique, something I have found on the back of nearly every book of hers I pick up as well as reader reviews here and other book sites. I...more
Len

I have just a few days ago finished this book for the 2nd time and I salute Ms. Cherryh for what I believe is some of her best work. She takes on an interesting challenge in a story which at it's core is science fiction, yet so much of the outer layers are pure fantasy as she explores a desert culture and environment rife with superstition, religion and intolerance. The nominal ruler of the very human population is more a god than a normal ruler; apparently long-lived in the extreme if not immor...more
Carol
I am a huge fan of C. J. Cherryh (only the truly.sci-fi and not fantasy) and am catching up with older titles I had missed in earlier years. This one won her a Hugo and I can see why. As with most of her works, I was pulled and addicted to this new world and intriguing characters, flipping pages to find out what happened next, even though you know all along what"s coming. In a most basic way it isn't science fiction because the characters don"t know of anything but their desert world, how to man...more
Rena McGee
I read Hammerfall when it first came out in hardback. Our Hero is Marak Trin Tain, a warrior who finds himself in a mass of people being herded to “the holy city.” He is one of a group of people who have been infected by a peculiar madness that “the Ila” the immortal ruler of the holy city finds interesting. Marak Trin Tain is also someone the Ila finds interesting, and despite the fact that Marak is the son of one of her enemies she puts him in charge of an expedition to discover the source of...more
Jim
This was an odd sort of book. Mostly it was about the world the author created and how it got that way. It mixed travelog, hard science fiction, together and stirred them together. The result was not altogether good. Part of the problem, I think, is Cherryh's style of storytelling; she plops you down in her environment and lets you figure it out as the story progresses. That's ok, but it takes some time and the reading is kind of boring and tedious while the reader catches up enough to know what...more
Laura Conrad
Trekking through the desert is very well done; lots of good family dynamics; we only realize it's about nanotechnology pretty far in, and the point of view character doesn't know anything about nanotechnology, so that part never really makes sense but maybe in the next book in the series. Which I'm looking forward to.
Annaliese
George RR. Martin has spoiled me. This book has some pretty good characters, but it was almost unbearably slow. Here's why... (some spoilers). This book follows it's characters through the desert, and back again, and back again. There are no cuts through time at all, except the very last chapter which skips maybe 100 years. In other words, after three treks through the desert, they are finally going to reach their goal, and then suddenly it's ~100 years later. I feel like the author really cheat...more
Elise Weber
Cherryh is a fantastic writer but this is not one of her best works. It started out well enough and drew me immediately into the mystery of the "mad", but once the answer to the riddle was delivered, the story fell apart. Despite pages and pages of desert danger it was really boring. I found myself skipping pages and pages of the book to get to the part that actually advanced the story line. Sadly these parts were limited to about 25% of the book.

I think she also missed opportunity to flesh out...more
Charlotte
Not sure what I thought of this book. At times it was very compelling, but also quite slow. And in the end it did not get very far with the story of the gene wars. We are even left guessing as to whether this is fantasy or sci fi. Only the sequel, which i don't think i will read, makes this clear. I am left with the feeling that this could / should have been just a couple of chapters in a book that went much further with the story of the gene wars, who the ondat were, who Ila and Luz really were...more
Mike
This is a really tough call. It has a Dune/Bedouin flavor that is not easy to get interested in. Lots of wandering in the desert for hundreds of pages. On the verge of putting down several times, I kept at it to the end. Cherryh makes you work hard at figuring out what is going on. It is hopefully just a very long prologue to a series that will get better. The last 50 pages were good but, as in all Cherryh books, the action is very short and sweet. The culture is not so alien as in her other ser...more
Antoine
I enjoyed the story up until the last two chapters where I felt the ending was rushed and left a number of questions unanswered.
Angela
It was sooo good! Love the descriptions and the characters, just gotta prepare yourself for some er, adult action hehe
Dez Amiday
Interesting book. Not what you would think. science fiction in the desert.
Trixie
I read this once and don't remember what it's even about. Sorry!
Mark
If you think a Caravan walking through the desert is slow? Try reading about it.
Donna
The book started out slow but it managed to hold my interest. For about 30% I had no real idea what was going on. Even after that, I didn't really know where the plot was heading. However, I found the story and the writing very compelling; it pulled me along nicely. The last part was pretty exciting although there were definitely some elements that remained obscured at the end. That was appropriate though as the entire story we saw things only from Marak's perspective. Recommended.
Rivqa
Despite the main character's name meaning 'soup' in Hebrew and some slight race issues, I enjoyed this. The setting (a barely habitable desert) is unusual for sci-fi and the characters are for the most part compelling and flawed. In my experience Cherryh's good at world- and character-building so it's not surprising really. Considering that some of the characters cross the desert three times, the pace is pretty good too.
G F
Aug 16, 2013 G F added it
I enjoyed this, the storyline is interesting. The main character goes from being cast aside by his father to the leader of other outcasts and learning he has value apart from his father when his whole life had been spent trying to impress him. As usual, there is plenty of supporting detail that helps the reader understand and accept the world being presented. I have finished this book now.

David Williams
Sort of monotonous, but I really liked some of the characters.
Tessa Eger
Excellent tale of interstellar biowar. Set on a harsh desert planet where people are going mad. The afflicted are seeing/hearing the same message! The main character, Marak, is a young warrior chief disowned by his own family. Another ruler recruits him to find the source of the messages.
Dennis Willingham
Fairly interesting science fiction story that tends more toward the fantasy realm. Sort of Dune-esque in that is set on a desert planet, water is all-important for desert people, but flows freely in the city and religous beliefs are key, but fails to create the vivid world Herbert did.
Jo Rhett
This is a fantastic book. This is a wonderful story of a evolutionary gene war, as told by someone who grew up in a primitive society, unable to convey the action in precise terms. It starts out odd, but it really comes across as a Tour de Force of Cherryh's worldbuilding ability.
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Currently resident in Spokane, Washington, C.J. Cherryh has won four Hugos and is one of the best-selling and most critically acclaimed authors in the science fiction and fantasy field. She is the author of more than forty novels. Her hobbies include travel, photography, reef culture, Mariners baseball, and, a late passion, figure skating: she intends to compete in the adult USFSA track. She began...more
More about C.J. Cherryh...
Downbelow Station (Company Wars, #1) Cyteen (Cyteen #1-3) The Pride of Chanur (Compact Space, #1) Foreigner (Foreigner, #1) The Faded Sun Trilogy (The Faded Sun, #1-3)

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