Jacob's Reviews > The Martian General's Daughter

The Martian General's Daughter by Theodore Judson
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Jan 23, 12

bookshelves: i-own, sci-fi-fantasy-etc, 2010-2011
Read from May 28 to June 02, 2010

In the late 23rd century, the Pan-Polarian Empire reigns supreme. Covering most of the northern hemisphere of Earth, with colonies on Mars and the moons of Jupiter, the Empire knows no rivals and fears no enemies, until a mysterious metal-corroding plague begins to destroy the empire’s technology. As territories fall and borders shrink, the great Emperor Mathias the Glistening also succumbs to the plague, and the empire passes to his son, Luke Anthony--whose disastrous rule is anything but benevolent. In the years of disasters, violence, debauchery, and corruption that follow, one man, hopelessly kind, decent, and honorable, is loyal enough to serve the son as faithfully as he served the father: General Peter Justice Black, the last good man. This is his story, as told by his illegitimate daughter, Justa.

I’ve noticed, lately, that there are a lot of stories out there about the daughters of interesting people. There is a book about the bonesetter’s daughter, the abortionist’s daughter, the memory keeper’s daughter, the King of Elfland, the optimist, the heretic, the Iron Dragon. Damien Rice has a song called “The Blower’s Daughter.” I’m not going to talk about The Doctor’s Daughter. And so on. As I quickly discovered, the list is larger than I thought. Presidents’ daughters are popular; ex-Governors’ daughters, less so. But the way the trend was going, it was probably inevitable we would get a book about the Martian General’s Daughter. Next up: daughters of asteroid miners, Jovian cruise ship captains, xenobiologists, and galactic-scale feng shui enthusiasts; see also The Comet Harvester’s Daughter, The Hoovooloo’s Daughter, etc.

(Naturally, the story here wasn’t about the girl; rather, the focus was on her father, the Martian General. I suspect this is true of most, if not all, books about That Interesting Person’s Daughter, but I’m not sure I’m willing to test that theory. Judson’s always worth it, though.)

On its own, The Martian General’s Daughter is a moving story about the end of an empire, but it suffers slightly from following on the heels of Judson’s last book, Fitzpatrick's War. At nearly 500 pages, Fitzpatrick's War was a hefty and well-told future history about the rise and fall of a conqueror; at half the length, The Martian General's Daughter feels rather weak in comparison. The world of the Pan-Polarian Empire doesn't quite distinguish itself from Fitzpatrick's Yukon--it's not set in the same future earth, and it isn't a sequel or a prequel, but, when compared to FW, there's a feeling that it should be: or, more to the point, Judson should have either written The Martian General as a sequel/prequel/interquel to Fitzpatrick's War, or made more changes to make this novel stand stronger on its own.

I'm reluctant to give such harsh criticism to this novel, but it couldn't be avoided. The Martian General's Daughter is still a good story and a stern warning about the dangers of repeating history; unfortunately, it's overshadowed by its predecessor.

Still looking forward to The Comet Harvester's Daughter. Anyone?
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Jan-Maat (new)

Jan-Maat Coming soon, the streetsweeper's granddaughter?

message 2: by Daniel (new)

Daniel And yet the only son that people seem interested in is the preacher man's...

message 3: by Laura (new)

Laura "I’ve noticed, lately, that there are a lot of stories out there about the daughters of interesting people." shame on you, Jacob, you sound like some green-eyed son here:)

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