The characters: The main character was quite likeable: she started out as a rich and pampere**spoiler alert** I really enjoyed this one.
The characters: The main character was quite likeable: she started out as a rich and pampered socialite who is faced with the murder (i.e. political assassination) of her entire family. The forces behind her family's murder are on the hunt for her as well. Despite her difficult circumstances at this point, I thought the author did a good job with her characterization -one neat aspect was that she really seemed *happier* or at least more fulfilled as a member of the military trying to find a way to bring the murderers of her family (and many, many others) to justice than as a bored socialite.
I just can't help loving a character like that, especially speaking as a woman. It is wonderfully refreshing to see well-written female characters (this also goes to show that men can write female characters just as well as women!).
The main character was also really likeable because of her desire for justice and for her ethics.
There were a few side characters who were likeable and/or original and fun as well. For instance, there is one (male) fellow recruit who goes through basic training with her and is not the nicest character: she stopped him when he was sexually harassing a female recruit and he set out to make her life miserable from that point forward, initially. He does a complete one-eighty/about face though when she saves his life at the end of basic training. From then on, he merely is a pox on the face of humanity for everyone else, but becomes loyal to her forever -which causes several moments of amusement throughout the novel, which made me like him despite myself because he still was an assh*le!. LOL. I personally think it takes a talented writer to create wonderful characters like this.
-This aspect was, in general, well done as well. I particularly liked the Legion, which was based on the French Foreign Legion -or on its popular image anyways, as a refuge for those trying to avoid the law. This was a pretty cool idea in the context of a large interplanetary empire, IMO.
-The plot moved along quite well. For instance, there were quite a few battles which were gripping and well detailed (in particular one of the battles towards the end where they broke through enemy lines to get into a town under siege from the enemy was exciting and showed the main character's intelligence in that she led this successful mission by doing what their opponents didn't expect).
BAD POINTS/CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM:
I don't have very much to say here, just one or two minor comments.
-Some might feel that the main character had some Mary Sue-ish characteristics since she was rather smart, etc. I personally feel that this is not in and of itself a flaw in that ALL characters will have to be drawn from the innards of the writer/author to a certain extent, such that all characters could receive such a label if one wanted to carry the exercise to an extreme. The problematic aspect comes when the character possesses an impossible (or at least highly unlikely) degree of abilities and/or genius. The problem also comes from the fact that such a character could never exist in the 'real world' (i.e. even though many books such as this one do not exist in such a place) and is therefore not believable to the reader.
The main character WAS NOT unbelievable or overly Mary-Sue-ish in my opinion, as I have detailed above.
-The only negative point is that I would have liked to know a bit more about the human interplanatery empire that existed in this universe (as well as about humanity's enemies, for that matter), since despite the main character's status as a former scion of this empire, we never learn much about it save that the emperor was killed by his sister who took over everything and that she had all her potential political opponents killed. The setting thus felt a little uncertain to me at times and a little more detail would have been welcome.
FINAL COMMENTS: So all in all I really enjoyed this one and am looking forward to book #2!!...more
**spoiler alert** I really enjoyed this one: it was original and very well done science fiction.
Good points: The world building was very interesting.**spoiler alert** I really enjoyed this one: it was original and very well done science fiction.
Good points: The world building was very interesting. I found myself fascinated by this author's vision of what humanity and our world might look like if old age and most causes of death (e.g. Alzheimer's and so on) no longer existed. The way in which this change existed but human nature was still the same depressing constant was very well done. I also loved the main characters: the main character of Grace was someone I couldn't help but root for. I loved the fact that she had been a cop and *knew* what the world was like, yet couldn't help but be the person she was and try to make it a better place. I also really liked the other characters such as Alexander (I really enjoyed the way that they found each other and found something *real* with each other, despite the darkness of the world they lived in). The plot was very interesting -I was intrigued to learn how this immortality had occured, among other things. The plot moved along quite well and kept me interested, as Grace went through many events in her quest for the truth, yet it did not take place at such a breakneck speed that one could not feel for the characters and their troubles.
Bad points/constructive criticism: I have relatively little to say here, except for one thing. I will say that I would have enjoyed finding out whether or not there would ever be any hope of having humanity recover their lost mortality (it didn't seem very likely at the end of the novel, of course, but still). In this sense I did feel the novel ended just a little bit abruptly in that I would personally have liked for some elements/questions to have answers (i.e. would/could humanity ever find a way to make things better, could we ever recover our mortality, was this even desirable?). I also wondered what would happen to Alexander's uncle as well as to Alexander, Grace, and the other characters and would have enjoyed having a bit more of a hint of what might happen to them.
Your mileage may of course vary. :)
All in all though, I highly recommend this one. Very enjoyable!...more
**spoiler alert** I really enjoyed this one. It was good sci fi fun!
Good points: The world building was intricate and believable. For instance, the no**spoiler alert** I really enjoyed this one. It was good sci fi fun!
Good points: The world building was intricate and believable. For instance, the notion that a bunch of fundamentalists would go out to settle a new world so as to be able to live out their beliefs is quite believable (this kind of thing has already happened in human history, minus the space and new planet aspect) and the fact that some individuals would try to select their subjects' future personalities (on the probably mistaken hope that submission would be an inheritable trait) is not too farfetched either.
The main characters were also quite believable: from Sissy (i.e. the High Priestess of Harmony) who sought to change her world for the better, Jake (a spy who fell in love with Sissy and sought to gain peace for both their peoples), and Laud Gregor the evil High Priest (whose motivations were quite believable in that he did not see himself as evil but had long ago convinced himself that what was best for him was also best for everyone). I quickly found myself caring for the characters, whose backstory was established through gradual revelations during the progression of the novel. The secondary characters were also very well done.
The motivations of the various political entities, including the potential complexities relating to the current enemy of humanity (i.e. the Marils, an avian species) and the history with humans on Harmony which was revealed during the novel were detailed in a highly believable and engaging manner.
The plot was very interesting and kept me reading until the end -I will certainly read the sequel! I greatly enjoyed the moments of drama and excitement tempered with moments of character exploration.
Bad/not so good points: I have very little to say here. There were some punctuation and spelling issues within my copy of the novel, which were rather annoying. I did however enjoy the novel despite this.
The world building was generally well done -the political side of a spac**spoiler alert**
I liked this one -it was a very nice space romp.
The world building was generally well done -the political side of a spacegoing humanity which has spread out onto many worlds was interesting. For instance there was a fair bit of detail of the political machinations involved in this, as well as with deciding what political system(s) would exist in our galaxy. While the concept of a struggle between the differing concerns of 'Rim' worlds as opposed to those of the more densely populated 'core' worlds including Earth has been done before, it was quite well done here. For instance, the book explains that the structure linking all human-settled worlds has been the 'Society of Humanity' which is organized as a loose Federation (i.e. each planetary member must agree and adhere to a certain set of laws such as abolishing the death penalty, but otherwise each world is responsible for its own governance). While this is all shown in the book, what is also shown is the struggle to maintain this structure and system as a unifying structure despite, well, the ugly side of human nature. For instance one family opposes the main character's family since her family helped set up and maintain this system (it is clear that this other family opposes this system as it has prevented them from engaging in a long list of both illegal, unethical, yet very profitable endeavours).
I liked the main character. I particularly liked her strength and the fact that she was a born leader. (As an aside, I'm still rather horrified by one review I read a long time ago which referred to her as a "a woman in dire need of a sex change" (!!). I honestly don't see why having a strong female character seems to equate to being overly 'masculine'. I really don't. Said review is here.) I liked the fact that she grew as a person over the course of the novel. While she remains a strong person throughout, she learned to better consider the needs and feelings of those serving under her (partly as a result of a talking-to she receives from a Colonel she serves with).
The plot was interesting and progressed/moved well. The plotlines the main character was involved in were resolved by the end of the novel, so this wasn't a 'gaping hole/chasm' type of ending. (See here for what I mean by this.)
Bad point(s)/constructive criticism:
-The main concern I have here is the fact that, while the world building was well done, some elements of the 'galactic backstory' were alluded to yet never really explained in various parts of the book. This did create some confusion on my part and I don't think it should have as this is the first book of the series. For instance, the main character's aunt Tru mentions something about her family having essentially defeated a rival family (said rivals were making their money from drugs and other ethically questionable endeavours). There is mention of 'Unity', for instance, (this seems to, perhaps, have been a union of worlds set up by this rival family?) yet this is never really explained and I was left confused.
In general though this was a fun entry in the military sci-fi genre....more