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Blackcollar (Blackcollar #1)

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3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,187 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
A genetically enhanced fighting force may be humanity’s only hope in this novel by the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Star Wars: Heir to the Empire.

Decades after a successful invasion of Earth and the Terran Democratic Empire by the Ryqril—hostile, leathery-skinned aliens—resistance fighter Allen Caine is training for an undercover mission. He will assume the iden
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ebook, 268 pages
Published October 16th 2012 by Open Road Media Sci-Fi Fantasy (first published 1983)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Crystal Starr Light
The Blackcollar marks the beginning of Timothy Zahn's career that would culminate in the creation of the best Star Wars trilogy on the market. As he is my favorite author, I couldn't miss out on this one.

ETA 06/09/14: After reading more books and thinking back on my feelings for this book, I have revised the rating on this book and bumped it down to 3 stars. This was a good book, but not great, like some of Zahn's later books. That said, 3 stars still means I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.

Plot:
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Naiya
Nov 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spies! Elite, genetically-enhanced guerrilla commandos! An alien occupation and one special agent sent out on a suicide mission to contact a resistance cell on another planet -

It was love at first premise.

The human worlds have been under occupation for nearly thirty years now. Allen Caine has spent his entire life preparing for an infiltration mission: impersonate a government official, get off Earth, travel to a former colony planet, and rally the resistance movement there…assuming there even i
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Lewis Cunningham
Apr 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: military sci-fi readers
If you are a Star Wars fan (book type), you probably know Timothy Zahn quite well. I first read him when he wrote the Thrawn Trilogy. I still hope Disney decides to make those into movies.

I recently ran across The Blackcollar by Mr Zahn. There is a whole series of related books that he wrote that are military sci-fi. Some are related as in prequel/sequel and some are related only by universe and time. I hadn't read any of these.

I would give the Thrawn trilogy 5 stars. Blackcollars, not so much.
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Hali Sowle
I remember reading this back when it first came out in 1986 so when I saw it on my "daily kindle deals" for 1.99 I couldn't resist a re-read.

Allen Caine is a rebel, born and trained by the resistance on an earth subjugated by the alien Ryqril, he is 26 years old and about to embark on a mission that could change the face of the occupation and the balance of power as it exists in the known worlds. The book opens with Caine being given his next to last information for the mission he is to travel
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elizabeth tobey
I picked this book up as part of a Humble Bundle ages ago. I tend to choose these books at random off my Kindle (and some are really, really not very good) so when I started reading this one and the writing was actually good I was super excited (I actually exclaimed the fact to my husband, startling him.)

I don't know if I'll go on to read the next two books in this series - but I might! And that's pretty much some of the highest praise I can give a serial novel I got in a bulk sale.

In short: g
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Ron
Feb 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An early Timothy Zahn SF novel. Well done. The reader can see the strong characterization, tight plot and even humor which characterizes later, even better, works.

Ebook quibble: apparently scanned without being closely proofread, this edition has a number of word and punctuation errors.

A very good read.
Xane
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
In a sentence: guerrilla warfare with space ninjas. Overall an entertaining read, though not without imperfections. You can definitely see the groundwork being laid for Zahn's later work. The idea of a subdued Earth that is occupied by alien forces (that are now focused on defeating another species after defeating the humans) is an intriguing setup, and while there are many action and thriller cliches, the plot as a whole is solid and entertaining. Likewise, the actions scenes are constant and e ...more
Bert van der Vaart
A pretty good science fiction book--written in 1983, it is a bit more dated than a truly great scifi book would be (Asimov: Foundation trilogy, for example). However, as a novel of government control versus deducting who might be a traitor or not, it seems much better. Given the ratings of later books, could be worth following a bit.
Rushart
Good book. Suffers from some unlikely plot holes.
1. How can human create such good elite soldier in such desperate time (Blackcollar)?
2. When Caine is killing Lathe, the pacing feels too fast and unnatural.

But good twist and overall enjoyable read.
Amber
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've read a couple of Timothy Zahn books, but this one just isn't doing it for me, so I'm calling it at ~70%. Some old ninjas (they seriously use nunchaku and shuriken) rebanding to expel alien occupiers.
David C.
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this when I was 12 and loved it.
James Lear
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I re-read one of my favourite books in less than 2 days...
Yes it's simplistic at times, but it's full of action and just as good as I remember from last time!
Steve
For some reason, I got it in my head that I wanted to track down a book I'd had when I was a kid. But all I remembered was the cover image - couldn't remember the author, title, character names, nothing. So I went to the Reddit forum What's That Book?, and wrote this:

Hey there, Gang.

I'm trying to track down the title of a book I read as a kid; it would have been published in the 1980's (maybe late '70's, but more likely mid-'80's). I am working off a long-buried memory here, but here's what I'
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Nathan
Fantasy Review Barn

Manly men, doing manly things, sometimes in outer space! Super geniuses, always one step ahead of the game, weaving masterful plans of manliness. Space battles, ground battles, hand to hand battles, throwing stars and nunchuku. The evil aliens have kept the humans underfoot for too long; it is time to strike back! Bring on the Blackcollars, buckle in, and take a wild ride!

Obviously, you have to take this book for what it is, a fairly cheesy space adventure on the lighter side
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Nathan
Feb 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantasy Review Barn

Manly men, doing manly things, sometimes in outer space! Super geniuses, always one step ahead of the game, weaving masterful plans of manliness. Space battles, ground battles, hand to hand battles, throwing stars and nunchuku. The evil aliens have kept the humans underfoot for too long; it is time to strike back! Bring on the Blackcollars, buckle in, and take a wild ride!

Obviously, you have to take this book for what it is, a fairly cheesy space adventure on the lighter side
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Derek
Aug 02, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I pretty much picked this book at random from the library shelf. In reading the forward, it turns out that this is his first novel. Author's first novels are kind of a mixed bag. Often times their craft isn't very refined and the writing shows it. On the other hand, often times a new author (at least one that is able to sell their books) has some new and interesting ideas.

I didn't really notice a lot of originality in the novel, but it was still an enjoyable read. If I had to classify this book
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Tim
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a pretty big disappointment, actually, especially as a fan of Zahn's.
First and foremost, the writing was incredibly lazy. Zahn's makes liberal use of the phrase, "in moments/minutes/seconds it was all over." This is shorthand for, "stuff happened that I don't want to write about." This is frustrating because he does this to events that could be incredibly interesting if he'd simply bothered to describe them. Not only that, but he's inconsistent about it. In one fight scene he'll cheat
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Candice
Apr 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
So, having read several of Zahn's more recent books, it was glaringly obvious that this was the first book he wrote. The characters weren't particularly interesting, the action was okay but not great, the blackcollars were a little too "ninja" to be completely believable, and the plot left a bit more meat to be desired. It was basically a very simple goal complicated by various fights. Eventually I got a little tired of the action, strange as that sounds.

The book starts with a bang, with the mai
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bkwurm
Oct 15, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not one of the author's better works.

So earth and all her colonies have been conquered and are now ruled by alien overlords who have brainwashed key individuals into loyalty and who administer human affairs on behalf of the aliens.

Blackcollars are highly trained and chemically modified elite commando who specialise in using nunchuks and shuriken. Really? Nunchuks? I suppose it must have sounded cool but what's wrong with a good blade if a silent close up weapon is what you want? As for shuriken,
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Tom
Apr 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ah, Timothy Zahn, it's been too long...

Zahn will probably never be ranked among the literary lions of science fiction. His sci-fi invention is pretty run-of-the-mill, his characterization is just average and, let's face it, he's a pulp writer. But as long as you're not expecting Great Art a Zahn book is a fun read. He's a good storyteller in the vein of early Robert Heinlein, and he knows how to pen a good action scene (harder than it looks).

I'd never read anything in Zahn's 'Blackcollar' series
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Daniel Cornwall
At its heart this is a book about space ninjas. Most of them aren't Japanese, but they are extremely stealthy and fight mostly with throwing stars and nunchucks.

In the distant future, the worlds of the Terran Democratic Empire are under the iron heel of an alien occupier. This book tells the story of some of the resistance fighters on a desperate mission that covers several worlds. Knowing who to trust and finding ways to ferret moles figure prominently as do notions of honor and what's best fo
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Junius Johnson
Mar 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was Zahn's first novel, but it doesn't read like it. The elements of his mature writing are already present, including a strong leader with a brilliant tactical mind. It sits somewhere between the _Cobra_ books and the Thrawn Star Wars books, though I think it really does the super-soldier idea much better than _Cobra_ does. The latter is really all about the difficulties of integrating the super-soldiers back into society and other such issues; this book is about them as soldiers. I find t ...more
Mark
Sep 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a huge fan of Timothy Zahn, I find myself in a phase where I've become immersed in his writing. My latest is the Blackcollar series, in which Earth and its colony systems have been conquered by the Ryquil. Now, 30 years later, a handful of skilled, superfast human warriors (the Blackcollars) throw off their feigned acquiescence and begin the rebellion. It's a layered plot, with secrets and twists. It's a bit like Spy vs. Spy, only the good guys wear black.

This is one of Zahn's earliest works
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Jean-Luc
Dec 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ninjas in space! There is no reason to read the rest of the review. Plot? Main characters? Opposing forces? Setting? Who cares, it's NINJAS! IN! SPACE!

You know Timothy Zahn from his Star Wars novels, but he writes plenty of science fiction besides. I didn't know this was from an earlier series, it was a bonus in one of the recent Humble e-book Bundles, so I though it was new! It wasn't until I read "*gasp* One of the assembled resistance leaders was a woman! And a pretty one too!" that I thought
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J
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
I never read anything of Zahn's that wasn't Star Wars.

But that being said, you can defiantly tell he like hidden agendas and back-stabbing twists.

This book towards the end really got me thinking back to the Thrawn trilogy I and ever other SW fan loved so much. This book was about a decade earlier and you can see the writing style that would translate into SW.

And that isn't a bad thing. In fact, I'm going to read the next book.

Is it a perfect sci-fi book? No, but I would actually say it is more l
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Isaac
Dec 26, 2014 rated it liked it
The Blackcollar series seems to predate Zahn's Cobra series by a few years, but reading this book feels like reading "Cobra-lite"; the protagonist Blackcollars are like Cobras only less well equipped and less believable as the supermen they appear to be. As in most of Zahn's books, the heroes are able to handle whatever impossible odds are sent their way, and are not usually in physical danger despite the fact that they should be. Again, as is usual, people have secret motives for doing things t ...more
Jason
Aug 05, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
300 years in the future, humanity's secret weapon against aggressive aliens.....old white men pretending to be ninjas. And sexism. Apparently it will be super hard to picture a woman as a resistance fighter in the future.

The tale is gripping, chop full of intrigue and back stabbing that keeps you flipping pages to find out what happens. But when I found the answer, it was terribly disappointing. The ending is abrupt, anticlimactic, and confusing. Of course, if you continue on in the series I am
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Thomas
This is one of Zahn's first novels, and you can definitely feel that in the way the pacing just doesn't quite flow. Events happen, often suddenly, for reasons of Plot. The characters are lightly developed, and often in fits and starts, with many details that I wanted to know about them not detailed in the story. We know enough about the characters for them to function as vehicles for the action and plot, and little more. The villain gets as much development as the main characters, if not more. H ...more
Daniel Adorno
Oct 18, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
Timothy Zahn's debut novel, Blackcollar, is a sci-fi military novel packed with action and a few plot twists. The basic premise is a special ops agent from Earth is trying to overthrow the rule of an alien race through the enlistment of an enhanced group of soldiers called Blackcollars. The book started out very fast-paced and exciting, but the middle sagged considerably for me. There were several points in the plot where things got muddy and hard to decipher which character was doing what. Mult ...more
Drew Nelson
Jul 17, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like cheesy science fiction
It's a well written cheesy space ninja adventure. I enjoyed the premise, occupied humanity, hidden cells of ultra-elite resistance, a hidden space treasure. Overall it's a bit of a guilty pleasure book: if you like cheesy science fiction and you know it, you'll enjoy reading this book.

This book pretty much rides on the settings and the overall plot. Characters are mostly flat and forgettable. Whenever anyone started talking about their feelings or their past I was just bored.

There's some intere
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Timothy Zahn attended Michigan State University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in physics in 1973. He then moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and achieved an M.S. degree in physics in 1975. While he was pursuing a doctorate in physics, his adviser became ill and died. Zahn never completed the doctorate. In 1975 he had begun writing science fiction as a hobby, and he bec ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Blackcollar (4 books)
  • The Backlash Mission (Blackcollar, #2)
  • The Judas Solution (Blackcollar, #3)
  • Blackcollar Omnibus (Blackcollar, #1-3)

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