I liked this better than the previous entry, the first one in the Expanse series, although I did like the first one. But this book seemed more ... humI liked this better than the previous entry, the first one in the Expanse series, although I did like the first one. But this book seemed more ... human. Maybe it's because the motivations of the various characters were much more understandable to me whereas the protomolecule of the first book was a major player and was inscrutable as good aliens are.
We're introduced to some new characters and revisit some old. I think what really got me in this book was the overarching story of the father whose child is abducted and his drive, his need to find her. At some point, he's nearly stripped down to the bare essence of fatherhood to find and protect. Other characters do not get a full rounding out because there's so many of them. There is a climactic confrontation at the end which breezes by too fast as well. But these are quibbles against the enjoyment of a developed universe, a place of many pockets of humanity spread throughout the solar system that feels lived in and real. From an Earth where you only work if you want to and otherwise live on "basic" to the Belt where it's a hardscrabble fight to provide enough food to eat and air to breathe on a daily basis. I will suggest that readers look at a map of the solar system if they're not already familiar with it in order to get a sense of where things are....more
At the surface Shadows in the Vineyard is a true come story of an extortion plot against the world's greatest vineyard, a tiny patch of land in BurgunAt the surface Shadows in the Vineyard is a true come story of an extortion plot against the world's greatest vineyard, a tiny patch of land in Burgundy, France, which grows the universally acclaimed best wine in the world. But it's also the story of the family that grows the wine, the generations that have owned and run the vineyard, treating the vines like their own children, back to when they bought it after the French Revolution. It's also the story of the man, the Prince de Conti, from whom the vineyard gets its name, Romanee Conti. He was a close confidant of King Louis XV, an enemy of the king's mistress Madame de Pompadour, and ultimately a traitor to the king in favor of the oppressed people of France.
We also get the story of wine in France, how deeply rooted in culture and society wine is. We learn how the monks first came to the great valleys, carefully examining the land and micro-climates in order to grow the very finest grapes, not making wines themselves, but servants of the Divine Will who produced the wine so that it could become the Blood of Christ. We learn how wine is classified and delineated, how French wine was almost wiped from the earth through a blight brought from America and then saved by vines from America.
Ultimately, it's also the story of a broken man and his son who plot to steal from the great son of a great man and in the process threaten to rob France and the whole world of the great patrimony of the great wines of Burgundy.
If you're a wine lover, you'll want to read this, but even if all you know about wine is that comes in bottles, it's still a great education about a topic nearly as old as bread and grapes and so very vital to civilization. And it's a great story about some very interesting people....more
A book that describes what happened to look after the events of the Battle of Yavin in Episode IV and before Hoth and Episode V, especially how he deaA book that describes what happened to look after the events of the Battle of Yavin in Episode IV and before Hoth and Episode V, especially how he deals with starting to discover the Force and having Ben ripped away from him is good one. How does Luke proceed with his training? Where can he turn? How does he avoid the Dark Side?
Unfortunately, apart from that idea, that's all this book has. First, there's the implausibility. Luke goes from being a 16-year-old farm boy who happens to be a hot stick and sensitive to the Force to conducting solo operations for the Rebels, including negotiating sensitive weapons sales with a Rodian clan. Then he's sent off to do a cloak-and-dagger snatch-and-grab black op against some of the Empire's best. Not buying it.
The author also seemed to have forgotten a plot when writing his book. We jump from event to event, much of it unconnected by any logical progression, and our heroes move along quite quickly overcoming all obstacles with relative ease. There's never a sense of desperation or real danger to the mission. Well, until the very end when we have a whiplash turn of events that was never earned by the plot. It just sort of ... happens. Okay. But there's no emotional payoff since there was no dramatic buildup.
The author's foreknowledge of later events also colors the narrative, including obvious avoidance of any kind of romantic notions between Luke and Leia because of the squicky brother/sister factor that no one in the story can know, but the author and reader are all too well aware of.
I did think the first-person narrative was interesting but I think the limited viewpoint contributed to the problem. If we'd been able to switch to other characters, we might have become more emotionally invested or just had a chance at a more complex plot....more