**spoiler alert** The cover grabbed me, and the title intrigued me. When I flipped to read the synopsis I was hooked: Chinese and Aztecs in space. I a**spoiler alert** The cover grabbed me, and the title intrigued me. When I flipped to read the synopsis I was hooked: Chinese and Aztecs in space. I am a sucker for books with historical trappings and spam in a can (space opera).
Unfortunately the book was slow, boring, and didn't really use much of the Aztec or Chinese essence. It could have been set anywhere, and the characters could have been from any culture. The story was told completely from the Chinese POV, with the Aztecs being the cartoon bad guys. There was a bit of cultural window dressing, but nothing with any depth.
The story is basically an Asian Dirty Dozen in space. Nine solders/sailors who are about to be executed for crimes, not following orders, or knowing dangerous secrets, are given a chance to survive by going on a suicide mission.
The Chinese and Aztecs are at war in space and the Aztecs are attacking Mars and the Chinese colonists there. They have a secret asteroid base and the Chinese high command has a captured ship, and has cracked their codes.
The nine are sent off to plant a big bomb and blow up the Aztec base. Of course none of the men like each other, or care about the outcome, they just want to stay alive. During the trip the nine all tell the stories of their lives, and what got them condemned. Very much like a poor man's Hyperion. They also fight and feud, but the whole thing is boring, and predictable.
The story picks up towards the end, but it was a slog to read, and took me forever to finish it.
The writing is clear, but the author lacks storytelling skill. Very much in a quick survey style, with no chance to develop the characters. I am a great fan of C.J. Cherryh, and of the Chinese SF saga, Chung Kuo. I was hoping for a cross between the two, and it was not even close. ...more