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The Blackcollar (Blackcollar #1)

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3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  1,088 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
Blackcollars were a human task force designed to defeat alien Ryqril invaders. The guerilla warriors were improved by drugs to enhance lifespan, speed, reflexes, and memory. Allen Caine has never met this weapon, stronger than Nova-class battle cruisers, but 30 years later goes to find their remnants, Damon Thane, and 5 starships from the planet Plinry.
Paperback, 272 pages
Published July 5th 1983 by DAW (first published 1983)
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Crystal Starr Light
The Blackcollar marks the beginning of Timothy Zahn's career that would culminate in the creation of the best Star Wars trilogy on the market. As he is my favorite author, I couldn't miss out on this one.

ETA 06/09/14: After reading more books and thinking back on my feelings for this book, I have revised the rating on this book and bumped it down to 3 stars. This was a good book, but not great, like some of Zahn's later books. That said, 3 stars still means I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.

Plot:
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Naiya
Apr 24, 2014 Naiya rated it liked it
Spies! Elite, genetically-enhanced guerrilla commandos! An alien occupation and one special agent sent out on a suicide mission to contact a resistance cell on another planet -

It was love at first premise.

The human worlds have been under occupation for nearly thirty years now. Allen Caine has spent his entire life preparing for an infiltration mission: impersonate a government official, get off Earth, travel to a former colony planet, and rally the resistance movement there…assuming there even i
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Lewis Cunningham
Apr 21, 2013 Lewis Cunningham rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: military sci-fi readers
If you are a Star Wars fan (book type), you probably know Timothy Zahn quite well. I first read him when he wrote the Thrawn Trilogy. I still hope Disney decides to make those into movies.

I recently ran across The Blackcollar by Mr Zahn. There is a whole series of related books that he wrote that are military sci-fi. Some are related as in prequel/sequel and some are related only by universe and time. I hadn't read any of these.

I would give the Thrawn trilogy 5 stars. Blackcollars, not so much.
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Hali Sowle
I remember reading this back when it first came out in 1986 so when I saw it on my "daily kindle deals" for 1.99 I couldn't resist a re-read.

Allen Caine is a rebel, born and trained by the resistance on an earth subjugated by the alien Ryqril, he is 26 years old and about to embark on a mission that could change the face of the occupation and the balance of power as it exists in the known worlds. The book opens with Caine being given his next to last information for the mission he is to travel
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Ron
Feb 22, 2013 Ron rated it really liked it
An early Timothy Zahn SF novel. Well done. The reader can see the strong characterization, tight plot and even humor which characterizes later, even better, works.

Ebook quibble: apparently scanned without being closely proofread, this edition has a number of word and punctuation errors.

A very good read.
Nathan
Fantasy Review Barn

Manly men, doing manly things, sometimes in outer space! Super geniuses, always one step ahead of the game, weaving masterful plans of manliness. Space battles, ground battles, hand to hand battles, throwing stars and nunchuku. The evil aliens have kept the humans underfoot for too long; it is time to strike back! Bring on the Blackcollars, buckle in, and take a wild ride!

Obviously, you have to take this book for what it is, a fairly cheesy space adventure on the lighter side
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Nathan
Feb 09, 2013 Nathan rated it liked it
Fantasy Review Barn

Manly men, doing manly things, sometimes in outer space! Super geniuses, always one step ahead of the game, weaving masterful plans of manliness. Space battles, ground battles, hand to hand battles, throwing stars and nunchuku. The evil aliens have kept the humans underfoot for too long; it is time to strike back! Bring on the Blackcollars, buckle in, and take a wild ride!

Obviously, you have to take this book for what it is, a fairly cheesy space adventure on the lighter side
...more
Derek
Aug 04, 2009 Derek rated it liked it
I pretty much picked this book at random from the library shelf. In reading the forward, it turns out that this is his first novel. Author's first novels are kind of a mixed bag. Often times their craft isn't very refined and the writing shows it. On the other hand, often times a new author (at least one that is able to sell their books) has some new and interesting ideas.

I didn't really notice a lot of originality in the novel, but it was still an enjoyable read. If I had to classify this book
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Tim
Jun 08, 2015 Tim rated it it was ok
This was a pretty big disappointment, actually, especially as a fan of Zahn's.
First and foremost, the writing was incredibly lazy. Zahn's makes liberal use of the phrase, "in moments/minutes/seconds it was all over." This is shorthand for, "stuff happened that I don't want to write about." This is frustrating because he does this to events that could be incredibly interesting if he'd simply bothered to describe them. Not only that, but he's inconsistent about it. In one fight scene he'll cheat
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Candice
Apr 15, 2016 Candice rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
So, having read several of Zahn's more recent books, it was glaringly obvious that this was the first book he wrote. The characters weren't particularly interesting, the action was okay but not great, the blackcollars were a little too "ninja" to be completely believable, and the plot left a bit more meat to be desired. It was basically a very simple goal complicated by various fights. Eventually I got a little tired of the action, strange as that sounds.

The book starts with a bang, with the mai
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bkwurm
Oct 28, 2014 bkwurm rated it did not like it
Not one of the author's better works.

So earth and all her colonies have been conquered and are now ruled by alien overlords who have brainwashed key individuals into loyalty and who administer human affairs on behalf of the aliens.

Blackcollars are highly trained and chemically modified elite commando who specialise in using nunchuks and shuriken. Really? Nunchuks? I suppose it must have sounded cool but what's wrong with a good blade if a silent close up weapon is what you want? As for shuriken,
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Tom
Apr 16, 2013 Tom rated it really liked it
Ah, Timothy Zahn, it's been too long...

Zahn will probably never be ranked among the literary lions of science fiction. His sci-fi invention is pretty run-of-the-mill, his characterization is just average and, let's face it, he's a pulp writer. But as long as you're not expecting Great Art a Zahn book is a fun read. He's a good storyteller in the vein of early Robert Heinlein, and he knows how to pen a good action scene (harder than it looks).

I'd never read anything in Zahn's 'Blackcollar' series
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Daniel Cornwall
Jan 08, 2015 Daniel Cornwall rated it liked it
At its heart this is a book about space ninjas. Most of them aren't Japanese, but they are extremely stealthy and fight mostly with throwing stars and nunchucks.

In the distant future, the worlds of the Terran Democratic Empire are under the iron heel of an alien occupier. This book tells the story of some of the resistance fighters on a desperate mission that covers several worlds. Knowing who to trust and finding ways to ferret moles figure prominently as do notions of honor and what's best fo
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Junius Johnson
Mar 15, 2014 Junius Johnson rated it it was amazing
This was Zahn's first novel, but it doesn't read like it. The elements of his mature writing are already present, including a strong leader with a brilliant tactical mind. It sits somewhere between the _Cobra_ books and the Thrawn Star Wars books, though I think it really does the super-soldier idea much better than _Cobra_ does. The latter is really all about the difficulties of integrating the super-soldiers back into society and other such issues; this book is about them as soldiers. I find ...more
Mark
Sep 14, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it
As a huge fan of Timothy Zahn, I find myself in a phase where I've become immersed in his writing. My latest is the Blackcollar series, in which Earth and its colony systems have been conquered by the Ryquil. Now, 30 years later, a handful of skilled, superfast human warriors (the Blackcollars) throw off their feigned acquiescence and begin the rebellion. It's a layered plot, with secrets and twists. It's a bit like Spy vs. Spy, only the good guys wear black.

This is one of Zahn's earliest works
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Jean-Luc
Dec 22, 2014 Jean-Luc rated it it was amazing
Ninjas in space! There is no reason to read the rest of the review. Plot? Main characters? Opposing forces? Setting? Who cares, it's NINJAS! IN! SPACE!

You know Timothy Zahn from his Star Wars novels, but he writes plenty of science fiction besides. I didn't know this was from an earlier series, it was a bonus in one of the recent Humble e-book Bundles, so I though it was new! It wasn't until I read "*gasp* One of the assembled resistance leaders was a woman! And a pretty one too!" that I thought
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J
Feb 09, 2015 J rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
I never read anything of Zahn's that wasn't Star Wars.

But that being said, you can defiantly tell he like hidden agendas and back-stabbing twists.

This book towards the end really got me thinking back to the Thrawn trilogy I and ever other SW fan loved so much. This book was about a decade earlier and you can see the writing style that would translate into SW.

And that isn't a bad thing. In fact, I'm going to read the next book.

Is it a perfect sci-fi book? No, but I would actually say it is more l
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Isaac
Dec 26, 2014 Isaac rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Blackcollar series seems to predate Zahn's Cobra series by a few years, but reading this book feels like reading "Cobra-lite"; the protagonist Blackcollars are like Cobras only less well equipped and less believable as the supermen they appear to be. As in most of Zahn's books, the heroes are able to handle whatever impossible odds are sent their way, and are not usually in physical danger despite the fact that they should be. Again, as is usual, people have secret motives for doing things ...more
Jason
Jan 03, 2015 Jason rated it did not like it
300 years in the future, humanity's secret weapon against aggressive aliens.....old white men pretending to be ninjas. And sexism. Apparently it will be super hard to picture a woman as a resistance fighter in the future.

The tale is gripping, chop full of intrigue and back stabbing that keeps you flipping pages to find out what happens. But when I found the answer, it was terribly disappointing. The ending is abrupt, anticlimactic, and confusing. Of course, if you continue on in the series I am
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Thomas
This is one of Zahn's first novels, and you can definitely feel that in the way the pacing just doesn't quite flow. Events happen, often suddenly, for reasons of Plot. The characters are lightly developed, and often in fits and starts, with many details that I wanted to know about them not detailed in the story. We know enough about the characters for them to function as vehicles for the action and plot, and little more. The villain gets as much development as the main characters, if not more. ...more
Daniel Adorno
Aug 28, 2015 Daniel Adorno rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
Timothy Zahn's debut novel, Blackcollar, is a sci-fi military novel packed with action and a few plot twists. The basic premise is a special ops agent from Earth is trying to overthrow the rule of an alien race through the enlistment of an enhanced group of soldiers called Blackcollars. The book started out very fast-paced and exciting, but the middle sagged considerably for me. There were several points in the plot where things got muddy and hard to decipher which character was doing what. ...more
Drew Nelson
Jul 17, 2014 Drew Nelson rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who like cheesy science fiction
It's a well written cheesy space ninja adventure. I enjoyed the premise, occupied humanity, hidden cells of ultra-elite resistance, a hidden space treasure. Overall it's a bit of a guilty pleasure book: if you like cheesy science fiction and you know it, you'll enjoy reading this book.

This book pretty much rides on the settings and the overall plot. Characters are mostly flat and forgettable. Whenever anyone started talking about their feelings or their past I was just bored.

There's some intere
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Scott Wozniak
Oct 28, 2014 Scott Wozniak rated it it was amazing
Great sci-fi adventure. Humanity spread among the stars, but then the first alien race the humans find conquered them. Twenty nine years later, the resistance movement makes has one last play that could turn things around. But things go wrong almost before they can start. And the only people who can save the mission are Blackcollars, the few surviving super soldiers trained just before the war ended.

The characters were nuanced and believable, but what made this story great was the plot. All sor
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elizabeth tobey
Jan 27, 2015 elizabeth tobey rated it liked it
I picked this book up as part of a Humble Bundle ages ago. I tend to choose these books at random off my Kindle (and some are really, really not very good) so when I started reading this one and the writing was actually good I was super excited (I actually exclaimed the fact to my husband, startling him.)

I don't know if I'll go on to read the next two books in this series - but I might! And that's pretty much some of the highest praise I can give a serial novel I got in a bulk sale.

In short: g
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James
Aug 26, 2014 James rated it it was amazing
Blackcollar is a very interesting novel - it is set over four hundred years from now where humanity has been subjugated by an alien race. The story follows a group of rebels that are looking to thwart the "Ryquil". Zahn's storytelling keeps the pace of the novel brisk - every encounter and action scene feels as if it is something you can experience real time. The story progresses well with an unexpected (yet hopeful) ending. There are a lot of questions about the Ryquil by the end of this novel ...more
Wes
Jul 29, 2014 Wes rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Have been a huge fan of Timothy Zahn since reading his incredible Heir to the Empire trilogy over a decade ago and this book will satisfy any fan of Zahn's Star Wars legacy.

At times Blackcollar can be a little cliched in its sci-fi tropes, but Zahn has a knack for creating characters that are relatable even while being fantastical. The twist at the ending I didn't see coming even while I knew there would be a twist. I am eager to read the remainder of the series.
Gutemann
When I was around 12 years old, I "inherited" a number of cartons filled with Sci-Fi and Fantasy books from my uncle. He did not die, he just went to university... I found his smelly books rotting in my grandmother's barn and TOOK THEM ALL. THAT'S RIGHT! ALL MINE NOW! Nobody stopped me.
There was everything in these boxes... deep stuff like Stanislaw Lem and trashy space opera like Perry Rhodan. I read it all and loved every bit of it.

I won't leave ratings for books I read during that time. I wa
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Christopher Coster
Apr 03, 2016 Christopher Coster rated it liked it
"Blackcollar" refers to elite commandos that have the very best training, strategy and equipment for stealthy armed and unarmed guerrilla combat. Throw them into the aftermath of a lost future war with a hostile alien species, give them a secret mission on an unfamiliar planet, among spies and traitors - and you end up on an adventure with space ninjas. Fun overall, but points off because the middle drags a bit (I almost stopped reading) and the writing often jumps perspective and doesn't commit ...more
Patrick
Like the Cobra novels I've read, the characterization is weak and most of the Blackcollars are interchangeable. What's interesting though is to see the seeds here for bits of Zahn's Thrawn trilogy less than 10 years later. There's the hidden fleet of ships, the general who's supposed to be dead, and similar cloning techniques. The beginning of the second one also brings to light a hidden cache of military secrets in a mountain similar to the Emperor's storehouse.
Andrew Perea
Aug 17, 2015 Andrew Perea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was blown away by this book. It was the first book I read in a very long time; having gotten a free ebook copy of it from a Humble Bundle, I decided to give it a go. I often find movies and TV shows quite predictable, but Blackcollar surprised me again and again. Using guerrilla warfare, the strategies and tactics used are very interesting and exciting. I would recommend this book to anybody that likes sci-fi, tactics, or combat, as well as anybody that just likes rooting for the underdog.
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Timothy Zahn attended Michigan State University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in physics in 1973. He then moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and achieved an M.S. degree in physics in 1975. While he was pursuing a doctorate in physics, his adviser became ill and died. Zahn never completed the doctorate. In 1975 he had begun writing science fiction as a hobby, and he ...more
More about Timothy Zahn...

Other Books in the Series

Blackcollar (4 books)
  • The Backlash Mission (Blackcollar, #2)
  • The Judas Solution (Blackcollar, #3)
  • Blackcollar Omnibus (Blackcollar, #1-3)

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