In Courageous, the third book in Jack Campbell’s LOST FLEET series, the Alliance fleet is still wandering from star system to star system, trying to get back home by some path the Syndics won’t predict. It seems like a hopeless situation, but the legendary Black Jack Geary, who’s been revived out of cold sleep after his suicidal mission 100 years ago, is just the hero they need. He’s proved himself so capable so far that some of his commanders want to help him secure a dictatorship when they get home, and others just want to get rid of him. Geary could decide to be a dictator, get rid of the people who are causing him problems and do things the way he thinks they should be done, but then how is he different from their enemies?
Geary isn’t as confident in his own abilities, however. He’s still uncomfortable in this new military where the pursuit of self-glory is tolerated and the best commanders are put on the ships most likely to be destroyed. No wonder discipline is shattered and the war has been going on for so long. Geary is starting to understand how the Alliance fleet got this way. He’s also learning more about their enemies — the Syndics — and the possibility that an unknown alien race may be manipulating both the Alliance and the Syndics. A scary thought.
Meanwhile Geary’s lover, Victoria Rione, who used to be reserved, reasonable, and icy, has turned into a fickle drama queen. This subplot is tedious and exasperating and it feels contrived to elevate the tension. It’s clear that Campbell is setting things up for a romantic change of venue for Black Jack, though our hero isn’t aware of it yet. After listening to Victoria rant and rave for so long, readers will be eager for a change.
I love the hero of the LOST FLEET series — Captain Geary is awesome and Campbell has done a great job with his development over the series so far. Geary is what keeps me reading LOST FLEET because I don’t much like anyone else in the book, or at least I don’t know them well enough to like them.
At this point, though, I’m starting to wonder why the series needs six books. It could have been cut in half. The truth is that even though I like hanging out with Black Jack Geary, not much new happens in Courageous. They’re wandering around at the beginning and they’re still wandering around at the end. In the last chapter of Courageous, Geary and Victoria make some really wild speculations about what might be happening with the alleged alien race and though I thought it was far-fetched that they would jump to those conclusions, I want to know what happens. Campbell leaves us with a cliffhanger that made me glad I’d already downloaded the next book, Valiant.(less)
Fearless is the second book in Jack Campbell’s LOST FLEET series about Captain Jack Geary who has recovered from 100 years of cold sleep just in time to try to save the Alliance fleet from certain annihilation by the Syndics. As I explained in my review of the first LOST FLEET book, Dauntless, many soldiers in the Alliance fleet think Black Jack Geary is a hero returned from the dead to save their skins. To them, Geary can do no wrong, and they’re willing to follow him deeper into Syndic space as he tries to find an unguarded pathway home. Other officers, however, resent Geary’s attempt to instill order on a military that has become unprepared and undisciplined over many years of war. These aggressive glory-seekers are causing a lot of trouble and when they find someone to rally around, Captain Geary has a mutiny on his hands.
But that’s not all he’s dealing with. There’s an underlying problem that affects everything he’s trying to do — the soldiers of the Alliance used to fight with honor, but now they have become just as ignoble as the Syndics. They wipe out civilians and non-military targets, use terror tactics to dishearten their foes, and generally revel in the slaughter of their enemies. Geary realizes that with this sort of attitude, there will never be peace. At first his only like-minded ally is Senator Victoria Rione who is traveling with Geary and the crew of Dauntless. She’s a politician, so none of the military folks trust her, but she is a much-needed voice for restraint. That’s why Geary can trust her with his provocative suspicions that there may be outside forces malevolently influencing the Alliance-Syndicate war, and with his discovery about the powers that can be unleashed when a hypernet gate implodes.
Geary has some relationship issues as well. Since he’s been asleep for 100 years, he has lost everyone he ever loved. He’s depressed about this, though he doesn’t have much time to think about it. He worries about going “home” and wonders if he can find a way to fit into society other than just as a fleet commander. In this installment, Geary begins a romantic relationship that is only partly rewarding and may or may not be significant when he finally gets home.
Fearless is another entertaining installment in the LOST FLEET series. Some of Jack Campbell’s characters are a bit two-dimensional, and one of them (Captain Falco) is totally over-the-top, but Captain Geary is an admirable character who’s easy to root for. Some of Geary’s personnel problems — especially those involving the mutinous officers and his new lover — seem contrived to elevate emotions, but Geary’s plight is compelling enough to make me feel rather forgiving. Campbell’s space battles are awesome, which is surprising since there’s actually more waiting around and getting in position than actually shooting at things.
Christian Rummel does a great job with the narration of the audio version I’ve been listening to. I think he has a lot to do with how much I like Black Jack Geary. I’ve already downloaded the third LOST FLEET book, Courageous.(less)
John “Black Jack” Geary’s escape pod has just been rescued from deep space. He’s been in cold-sleep for a century after he single-handedly held off enemy spaceships while letting the rest of the Alliance fleet escape. Everyone thought he was dead, but his brave sacrifice went down in the history books and many people still whisper that Black Jack Geary will come back to save the Alliance in a time of great need. And so he has… or at least that’s what many soldiers of the Alliance believe. Geary himself is bewildered to learn that not only is he alive, but that his one famous deed was exaggerated and now he’s a hero of legend. All he really feels like doing is grieving over the loved ones he left behind a century ago. But duty calls.
Now Geary finds himself again trying to save the Alliance fleet. They’re still fighting the Syndicate Worlds — the same enemies they’ve been fighting since Geary’s time — and they’re stuck in enemy territory with damaged ships. They’re also carrying a stolen key to one of the Syndics’ hypernets — a tool which could help them finally win the war. Can Geary get the fleet and the key back home safely?
Well, that’s a hard enough task for any fleet commander. What makes it even harder for John Geary is that this modern Alliance fleet is far different from the one he knew before. The technology has advanced enormously (Geary doesn’t even know what a hypernet is!), but what has changed even more is the structure of the military. Geary lived in a time when the military was well-trained and the leaders gave orders which their subordinates obeyed. But because of the devastating losses the Alliance has suffered over the past several decades, younger commanders have had to step up. They lack skills and experience and the military is now run more like a democracy than a hierarchy, with commanders discussing and voting during meetings instead of receiving and following orders from superiors. Black Jack Geary’s own legendary exploit is also a factor in this decline — his heroic status has caused many ship commanders to try to seek their own glory. Geary recognizes that all of this is bad for the Alliance Worlds, but changing an entire military organization may be too much for one man. Unless that man is a legendary hero who has returned to set his people free…
Dauntless, the first book in Jack Campbell’s LOST FLEET series is highly entertaining space opera. Black Jack Geary makes a great reluctant hero. He’s smart and experienced, but 100 years behind in his understanding of technology. He has a disadvantage when he has to rely on others to help him understand and navigate his controls, but his old battle tactics, which rely on careful fleet coordination rather than personal glory-seeking, are an advantage. Not only are they better for the fleet as a whole, but they confound the enemy who is now unable to predict what the Alliance forces will do.
I didn’t much care for the other characters in Dauntless, but I enjoyed the story enough that I didn’t mind. One thing that sets this series apart from other space opera is Campbell’s attempt to deal with the problem of relativity in a war that spans so much space. For example, if your computer is reporting the location of an enemy that’s lightminutes away from you, they are no longer in that location when you get the report. This distortion has a lot of implications, especially when you’re trying to shoot the enemy and the enemy is trying to shoot you. Campbell’s constant reminders about this get tedious, but I appreciated that he tried to deal with this problem that’s too often ignored.
I listened to Audible Frontier’s production of Dauntless. Christian Rummel was a perfect narrator and I thought the voice and tone he used for Black Jack was a perfect reflection of Geary’s humble but confident personality. After listening to Dauntless, I immediately downloaded book 2, Fearless. THE LOST FLEET looks like it’s going to be a good series.
Jack Campbell is a pseudonym for author John G. Hemry who writes other military science fiction under his real name. He’s a retired Navy officer.(less)
Brion Brandd has just become the champion of his planet by defeating all the other contestants in “The Twenties.” Many men train all their lives for a chance to be the winner and Brion is ready to savor his victory. But not so fast! When a former winner challenges Brion to do something truly meaningful and heroic with his life, Brion sets off to save the planet Dis from a war that will surely destroy the entire planet. Dis has a hostile environment that nearly kills Brion before he even gets to meet the natives. Then he needs to figure out how the planet and the species that have evolved on it work together so he can solve their political problems.
Since this is a story written by Harry Harrison, there must also be a hot chick for Brion to save and fall in love with. My eyebrows rose when I found out that the girl in Planet of the Damned is Dr. Lea, an accomplished biologist. That was surprising after Harrison had just told us that men and women have to compete separately in The Twenties because “the inherent differences prevented fair contests. For example, it is impossible for a woman to win a large chess tournament and this fact was recognized.” (It’s true that all chess champions so far have been men, but men outnumber women in competitive chess 16:1. For some reason there are relatively few women who compete in chess. Perhaps it’s lack of talent with that type of competitive and aggressive visual spatial task — or just a simple lack of interest — but to say it’s a fact that it’s impossible for a woman to win is ridiculous.)
Anyway, some of the men in the story are outraged that they’ve been sent a female scientist because they think she’ll “melt in the rain,” and Brion decides she must be carefully watched, but the hot chick’s expertise is an important part of the plot after we get past all her shrieking, falling, fainting and being saved and carried around by Brion. Eventually, while sobbing, she decides she wants to get married and that she’s tired of being a biologist and a “mental match for any man.” (If she has a Ph.D. in exobiology, shouldn’t she be more than a mental match for most men? Whatever, Mr. Harrison.)
Planet of the Damned is very similar to Harry Harrison’s Deathworld. Manly man goes to save planet, planet has hostile environment, natives’ evolution and symbiotic relationship with planet are key to solution, and there’s a hot chick to fall in love with for no particularly good reason. It’s unbelievable, cheesy, poorly written, pulpy and worst of all, boring. It might have been better if I hadn’t felt like I’d already read this story in Deathworld. I keep giving Harry Harrison another try because I love several of his STAINLESS STEEL RAT books, but I think I might be done with Harrison now. (Three strikes and you’re out!)
Planet of the Damned was originally serialized and then published as a novel in 1962. It has also been published as Sense of Obligation. I listened to the audio version which was produced by Jimcin Recordings in 2010 and has been recently released on CD by Brilliance Audio. Jim Roberts does his usual slightly wooden but competent narration. Planet of No Return is another Harrison novel that features Brion Brandd.(less)
Professor Kyle Riggs and his kids were asleep in their house when the alien spaceship arrived. It killed the kids, kidnapped Kyle, and put him through a series of grueling tests. Since he was still alive afterward, the ship made Kyle the captain. This has been happening all over Earth. Most of the captured humans have been killed because they couldn’t make it through the rigorous tests, but all the survivors are now piloting spaceships and in the perfect position to fight off an alien invasion that’s coming to enslave humanity. Add in a beautiful naked coed who’s chained up inside Kyle’s spaceship and you have a silly, but exciting, male wish-fulfillment fantasy.
I want to admit straight up that even though I’m giving Swarm only two stars (it’s just not a very good book), it entertained me. I think many readers will love Swarm — those who just want a fast-moving exhilarating ride and don’t care too much about plot, characterization, and craft. Sometimes I’m in the mood for something like that and Swarm will do quite nicely in that circumstance. However, I want to critique Swarm by its merits, and not by my mood.
The plot of Swarm is instantly engaging. Professor Riggs’ kids are snatched by a spaceship, disemboweled, and dropped to the ground. Wow. That kind of gets your attention. Then Kyle finds himself captain of an amazing piece of technology which belongs to an alien race. Until now, humans thought they were alone in the universe. Now they’re fighting a second alien race with help from these aliens who’ve given them ships but have also killed thousands of humans while vetting them for command positions. This diverse set of ship captains must figure out how to fly their ships and work together to save Earth. Crazy.
This is a pretty cool setup, but unfortunately there were so many places where I just couldn’t suspend disbelief due to ridiculous plot elements and bad characterization. There are many examples I could give, but I’ll just mention two. The first is the ineffective way the Earth governments respond to the spaceships. Kyle and the other captains roam around Earth for a while before getting organized. They hover over homes and malls and grocery stores, using the ship to steal items they need to outfit their ships. (The way they do this reminded me of the “claw” type arcade games and that funny scene in Toy Story: “The Claw!”). A ship captain from Australia is declaring himself leader and threatening Kyle and others who won’t follow him. Kyle, a college professor who has just seen his ship kill his own kids, goes off on his looting spree instead of immediately going to the police or other authorities to report what’s happening. Earth’s authorities, who have no idea what’s going on, seem paralyzed — they just wait to see what will happen. Even though they have satellite communications and internet, it takes a long time before the ship commanders and the authorities are communicating with each other. Even then the ragtag team of pilots decide to band together to save Earth rather than handing over the ships to legitimate military forces. And the governments let this happen. It’s exciting, but not at all likely.
Second is the preposterous relationship with the college student. Kyle, a widower, has just seen his kids brutally murdered, but he gets over this fast enough when the naked girl shows up. Sure, he talks like he’s grieving, just to remind us that Larson knows we’re going to have an issue with this, but he doesn’t act like he’s grieving when he’s ogling the girl and talking more about her nakedness than he did about his kids. Pretty soon he’s in bed with the girl (she has no personality, but she is naked) and the kids seem forgotten. Larson would have done better to bring her in during book 2 instead (Swarm is the first in a series of at least seven books). And maybe give her some more features in addition to nakedness. I mean, she is a college student — she should have more features.
I could go on, but I think those two examples get the point across. If you’re looking for a shallow but thrilling ride that’s fairly unique and you don’t have high expectations about craft, Swarm may be just what you’re looking for. I recommend the audio version narrated by Mark Boyett. I didn’t like his voice for the naked chick, but he did well with the rest of it.
B.V. Larson is an independent author who self-published Swarm. The audio version was produced by Audible Frontiers in 2011 and has been put on CD by Brilliance Audio. They sent me a review copy. I also have a copy of book two, Extinction. I’ll pick it up sometime when I’m in the mood for something really shallow.(less)
Bart Steele has been off at the Space Academy and hasn’t seen his father in years. When he goes to meet him at a Lhari space station, Mr. Steele never shows up. Instead, he sends an agent with a message for Bart. The Lhari, an intelligent alien race, suspect that Bart’s dad has stolen the secret of their warp drive. If so, this means humans will be able to manufacture their own warp drives and the Lhari will no longer have a monopoly on out-of-system space travel. The Lhari are trying to hunt down Mr. Steele and Bart is in danger, too.
Off goes Bart to try to find his father and his father’s secrets. All he knows is that the secret to the Lhari space drive has something to do with an eighth color that humans have never seen before (Marion Zimmer Bradley’s science is a little off here. Well, a lot off, but let’s just ignore that, shall we? Because the idea is so lovely, even if it’s scientifically ridiculous. I don’t want to be Professor Party Pooper.).
The Colors of Space is a lot like one of the Heinlein Juveniles I read as a kid. The story is simple, Bart is a competent and likeable fellow and, although there is some grief for Bart, the story comes to a sweet, if predictable, end. There is just a bit of appropriate social commentary about the warlike nature of humans and some lovely imagery as Bart contemplates the beautiful colors of space. (I won’t mention again about the scientific implausibility of that.)
I listened to Jim Roberts narrate the CD version of The Colors of Space that Brilliance Audio has recently released (it’s been available at Audible since 2010). Roberts isn’t the best reader, but he gives the book an old-fashioned feel that I liked in this case. The Colors of Space is five hours long on audio and is appropriate for any age. You can get a free version for Kindle, then you can buy the Audible edition with Whispersync for only $2.99. (Please don’t tell Brilliance Audio that I told you this. It was nice of them to send me a free copy of The Colors of Space to review.)(less)
Juan is an eighth grader in a near-future San Diego. Final exams have arrived and Juan and his friends are under a lot of pressure to perform well because those who don’t keep up in this fast-moving information-driven virtual-reality society are left behind. That’s what happened to Juan’s father. Juan is determined to succeed, so much so that he’s experimenting with cognition-enhancing drugs.
For one of their exams, students must work with a partner on a project of their choosing without outside assistance. That means that Juan and his partner Miriam can’t access any information or help that’s not already been downloaded into their wearable computers and networked brains. If they’re caught communicating with anyone from outside, even remote students, they’ll fail. While Juan and Miriam are working on their project in the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, they come across a new species of intelligent mice acting strangely in the park. If they want to get their own theory out there before someone else makes the discovery, they have to integrate a lot of sketchy facts very quickly and make some wild guesses about what’s going on in Torrey Pines. They also have to worry about a remote virtual student who may be trying to steal their project.
Vernor Vinge presents a possible future that’s not too hard to believe in. In order to just keep up with their peers, kids are required to be hooked into a global network were they can access and assimilate huge amounts of information in a very short time. Those who can’t handle the new technology and who can’t absorb a lot of data rapidly will end up on the bottom rungs of society. Parents and grandparents who haven’t learned to use the new technology or to adapt to a barrage of new knowledge are quickly becoming obsolete. Juan feels so much pressure that he’s willing to cheat by using drugs.
Fast Times at Fairmont High is supposed to be scary — and a warning, I think — but as a college professor and the mother of an unmotivated eighth grader, the thought that kids would be so driven to learn and excel sort of excited me. In reality I think that even if (or when) we have these technologies in the future, most eighth graders will still be more interested in playing games and socializing with friends than worrying about their future socioeconomic status. I can’t see Vinge’s future actually coming to pass, but it’s fascinating to think about and I wouldn’t be surprised if kids are someday, in the not too distant future, using the cool technology that Vinge describes.
Fast Times at Fairmont High is set in the same world as Vernor Vinge’s novel Rainbow’s End which is on my TBR stack. Fast Times at Fairmont High won the 2002 Hugo Award for Best Novella. I listened to Brilliance Audio’s version which is just under three hours long and is nicely narrated by Eric Michael Summerer.(less)
Dead Man Rising is the second book in Lilith Saintcrow’s DANTE VALENTINE series. Dante, a freelance necromance, has lived through her first assignment for the devil. (She didn’t want to work for him, but the devil can be very persuasive.) Now Dante’s brooding because her demon lover is dead and she’s just had a nasty surprise about her own heritage. When her friend Gabe, the police investigator, calls to tell her that her old school friends are being brutally murdered, Dante, with the help of her ex-boyfriend Jace, sets out to solve the crimes. Thus not only does Dante have to deal with her current grief, but she has to face her horrible past, too.
I didn’t like the first DANTE VALENTINE book, Working for the Devil (reviewed here), but I decided to give Dante another chance since Brilliance Audio sent me the whole series to review and it wasn’t costing me any money. The narration by Tanya Eby is excellent.
Unfortunately, I liked Dead Man Rising even less than I liked Working for the Devil. It takes a long time to get going and Dante spends most of her time in this book brooding about her childhood and whining about the dead (maybe) demon and her injury. She’s wallowing in self-pity and it goes on and on both inside her head and out her mouth until she’s nearly incapacitated. (You’d think that someone as tough as Dante Valentine could manage to cope a little better). Meanwhile, Jace is pining for her (I have no idea why) and she lets him be her sidekick, move into her house and sleep in her bed all the while telling him they’ll never be together. What a bitch.
The reason I didn’t like the first DANTE VALENTINE book was because I didn’t like Dante. She’s rude, mean, and bitchy. She’s even less likeable now that we add cold-hearted drama queen to the mix. Since Dead Man Rising spends more time listening to Dante whine than kill demons, it’s just unpleasant in every way.(less)
Dante Valentine is a freelance Necromance — clients hire her to communicate with dead people so they can solve murders, settle estate disputes, etc. When the Devil wants to hire Dante to find a rogue demon named Vardimal Santino, and to recover the important object he’s stolen from Hell, he gives her no choice but to obey. Dante doesn’t want to work for the devil, but she does want to keep living. To help with that, the Devil assigns her a bodyguard — the demon Japhrimel. While Dante and Japhrimel are trying to track down Santino, they run into Dante’s ex-boyfriend, Jace, who seems all too willing to help. Eventually they discover that the demons have been doing some genetic experiments with humans and that not only is the future of humanity at stake, but so is the guardianship of Hell. If Vardimal isn’t stopped… um… all Hell will break loose.
I don’t typically read these urban fantasy series featuring smart-mouthed tattooed leather-clad women bravely slaying scary paranormal creatures while grumbling about their jobs and parentage and juggling at least two hot possessive guys on the side. All these stories are pretty much the same to me. I only picked up Working for the Devil out of a sense of obligation since Brilliance Audio sent me a review copy. Fortunately, the audio production is excellent with Tanya Eby doing a first-rate job with all of the parts. She’s a great reader and I enjoyed listening to her.
It’s too bad I didn’t like the story more. It wasn’t bad, but it just didn’t manage to rise above mediocre. The most interesting feature is Saintcrow’s futuristic world, including races developed by genetic experimentation, which she gives us only hints about. Some readers will be frustrated by this, but I liked the mystery of it and the promise that future installments would fill in the details.
I also appreciated the focus on action rather than the romance because one of the main problems I have with these types of books is that I never believe in the romance. Frankly, Dante’s a bossy hostile foul-mouthed bitch, and I have no idea why two hot guys are so in love with her. Are they so shallow that all they can see is how great she looks in her demon-fighting gear? I’ve complained many times about the vapid female characters I find in older SFF written by men, so I’m going to start complaining about some of the equally ridiculous male protagonists being written by modern female writers. I can’t admire characters whose primary criterion for a great relationship is that they both look great in their blood-soaked leathers.
For readers who like sassy kickass heroines, Working for the Devil is likely to go over pretty well, and I’d recommend the audio version. I’m going to give the second book, Dead Man Rising, a try, but I’m doubtful that I’ll like it any more than I liked this one — Dante Valentine just isn’t someone I want to spend my precious free time with.(less)
When Quentin Draith wakes up in a bed in a private hospital he has no idea how he got there or even who he is. He does realize, though, that he’s being drugged and, therefore, somebody must be trying to control him. After he manages to escape, he learns that he lives in Las Vegas and blogs about supernatural events. And there’s a lot of weird stuff going on in Las Vegas these days.
Quentin soon discovers that the world contains an assortment of powerful magical objects and that he’s a rogue member of a community of people who are trying to collect them. These objects have something to do with the mysterious Grey Men who keep popping out of rips in space and gruesomely killing Quentin’s new friends. When Quentin meets a pretty young bride whose husband has just disappeared into a rip, he feels protective and wants to save her from the Grey Men. Eventually he develops a plan that he hopes will destroy the bad guys where they live — inside the rips.
Technomancer started off well enough. In fact it began just like Roger Zelazny’s AMBER CHRONICLES (Corwin wakes up in a private sanitorium with amnesia after nearly dying in a car accident and he realizes he’s being kept drugged.) I wanted to know who Quentin Draith was and why he’s being sedated in a hospital bed. But in the end, Technomancer didn’t manage to fulfill any of my criteria for good entertainment.
One major problem was that nothing in the story felt real to me. This starts right away when Quentin gets out of the hospital. He doesn’t act like a man who has really lost his identity. He keeps mentioning how he doesn’t know anything about himself (though he tends to remember things that are convenient to the plot), but we never see him investigating himself, his friends, or his family. He knows his name and he knows he is a blogger, so why doesn’t he look for himself on Facebook or do a Google search? (How many Quentin Draiths can there be in Las Vegas?) He reads his own blog for information about supernatural happenings, but not for personal information. Similarly, B.V. Larson didn’t make me believe in his other characters, his world, or the plot.
Another problem was that the plot just wasn’t compelling. It evoked no tension, excitement, or any other emotion from me. I felt like I was reading a story in the newspaper. I got the facts, but no enjoyment out of them. I was bored with the story and I didn’t like any of the characters well enough to care what happened to them. The writing style offered nothing to make up for this — no beauty, no humor, nothing. In fact, I thought it was a little sloppy. For example, when Quentin is lying in his hospital bed with his eyes closed, a nurse walks in. He describes how sexy she is (every woman is sized up this way) before he even opens his eyes. In another part Quentin is questioning someone and he tell us “it turned out he knew plenty” but a couple of minutes later he tells us “he really didn’t know all that much.” These sorts of things are minor, but they add up.
For a novel with the name Technomancer, I was expecting something kind of cool. But there isn’t any technomancing going on. We’re given that line about unexplained technology looking like magic to someone who doesn’t understand the technology, but none of the magical objects are given any sort of technological explanation which makes them just seem like magical objects. If there is a distinction, it’s too subtle to make a difference to the reader, at least at this point in the series.
I listened to Christopher Lane narrate Brilliance Audio’s version of Technomancer. He’s really good, and perhaps the only reason I managed to finish the book. If Brilliance Audio sends me a review copy of the second book in the UNSPEAKABLE THINGS series, I may give it a try to see if the story gets better, but I won’t be seeking it out. I’m just not interested in Quentin Draith’s story. It’s hard to root for a protagonist who you know nothing about while you watch him stumble around doing stupid things and judging the women he meets only by how sexy they are.
By the way, this is another 47North book. I’m not having good luck with those.(less)
It’s 2010 and Queen Elizabeth XXX is on the throne of a magical alternate England. When the throne is threatened, Sir Rupert Triumff, discoverer of Australia, comes to the rescue.
I’ll make this short. I didn’t get very far with Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero. The story is a comedy of the sort that has no appeal to me. It’s written in a self-consciously long-winded style where extensive detailed descriptions and explanations of every minor person and place keep interrupting the plot in order to provide background trivia and to crack jokes. Unfortunately, the trivia isn’t interesting or relevant and the jokes aren’t funny. By the end of the first chapter I felt buried under minutiae and puerility. Here’s just one example (read the first chapter at Amazon to get more of the sense of it):
Gonzalo would attempt to distract Her Majesty with discourses on the correct stringing of the composite bow, the training of the dog pack, the pros and cons of the frog-crotch barb, crossbows for pleasure and profit, detecting grot-worm in the stools of bow-hounds, and sundry other secrets of the huntsman’s art. Frequently he would invite the Queen to join him for an afternoon in the Park. She always declined, having pressing business of national import to attend in the Star Chamber. Elizabeth XXIV’s private diaries reveal that the “pressing business of national import” was almost always a game of tiddlywinks with members of the Privy Council. They also related that she referred to Gonzalo as “that smelly maniac with the arrows”.
Pretty much every paragraph is like this. I was unamused and bored. I skipped ahead to see if things got better, but they didn’t. So I gave up. Life’s too short…
By the way, I was listening to Simon Vance read the audio version produced by Brilliance Audio. I doubt there is any audio reader who would deny that Simon Vance is one of the best narrators in the business. But even Simon Vance couldn’t save Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero for me.
Readers who enjoy puns and bathroom humor will probably like Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero better than I did.(less)