There are two reasons people read fantasy. 1) to marvel at the uniqueness of fantasy elements. 2) to see how normal people react to those elements. IfThere are two reasons people read fantasy. 1) to marvel at the uniqueness of fantasy elements. 2) to see how normal people react to those elements. If you prefer the first you will probably like this book. If you are in the second camp (like me) it will be a slog.
The central reason for this is Robin Hobb doesn't write normal people. All of the characters of this book are adult-children. That is, adults who act like children. Characters are not internally consistant, with motives that change on a dime, and plans that are retconned in as if they were there from the beginning.
There is an interesting story to be told here. A story of animal husbandry, interactions between species, cultural differences, and exploration. If the characters weren't such a hindrance this could have been a very good book.
I recommend this book to those with a major dragon fetish, and have read the liveship trilogy. All others should stay away.
Amazon recommend this book to me, and I'm glad they did. I make a habit of skipping sci fi books published before 1990, but I've been on a colonizatioAmazon recommend this book to me, and I'm glad they did. I make a habit of skipping sci fi books published before 1990, but I've been on a colonizationg kick ever since I read "The Last Colony" by John Scalzi.
A bunch of colonists get dumped off on a fairly hostile planet with no technology, and have to survive with what they can find and make there.
This book still works because it depends little on advanced technology that seems quaint / rediculous to me. Most of the technology is on the level of city walls, waterwheels, and crossbows.
The other reason I avoid old sci fi books is that the stories are just too predictable. In the early going, Space Prison seemed to be headed in that way. One character moved to prominance in a way that might as well be him declaring, "My name is Preston. I will be the hero of this story. Stick with me, and we will all get through this."
Then the book became brutal. Really brutal. Characters die, and generally in meaningless ways. But that is what I would expect would happen to a group of ill equipted settlers put down on a hostile planent. They don't understand the world at first, and the gaining of understanding comes at an incredibly high price.
We learn about the world along with them, and I also learned several things about physics, geology, and even animal husbandry as I read the book. The author did his research very well.
The story covers alot of time. Over 200 years. That is really what it had to do for the colonists to adapt to the world and learn how to survive and thrive there.
I love this book. I wish there were more books like it. I wish more authors would do their research without spending overmuch time dweling on technobable. I recommend this book to anyone who can tolerate the loss of beloved characters....more
I liked this book more than my rating might indicate. The book is actually a trilogy of novellas, and the first story in the trillogy was a big miss fI liked this book more than my rating might indicate. The book is actually a trilogy of novellas, and the first story in the trillogy was a big miss for me, so the collection lost a full start. The second story was much, much stronger, and the third story was pretty strong as well.
The world in which the story takes place is very, very broad. It is the type of sci fi story where there aren't just a few soft science ideas (hyperspace, laser guns, tachyon communication). No, they brought out the whole toolbox. Everything is possible, and difference groups of people have developed down different paths. For instance, one planent may use plasma shields, and another may have energy shields, and another no shields at all.
I would liken this to the way Star Trek treated technology. Romulans had cloaking devices, and disruptors while the federation had phasers and endlessly modifiable deflectors. This soft science is accompanied by alot of technobable.
This plays strongly into the plot of the book, as the main characters are sent out from one civilization to buy or steal technologies from other civilizations.
It is a credit to the author that I enjoyed the second two stories as much as I did. Soft science coupled with deux ex machina via technobable generally make me hate a book. That is my main gripe with the first story.
I think what made me forgive this book for its soft science is that it really did a good job of making most of the technology based solutions feel like they weren't really deux ex machina.
I would also point to some very strong world building. Each new place was a new place to explore with unknown tech or resources to be mined or just a bunch of new interesting people.
Mercenary work / piracy is a very, very interesting premise for a story, and these stories do it well. I recommend this book to those attracted to that premise, though I'd suggest they skip the first novella....more