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Janissaries (Janissaries #1)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,375 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
Some days it just didn't pay to be a soldier. Captain Rick Galloway and his men had been talked into volunteering for a dangerous mission—only to be ruthlessly abandoned when faceless CIA higher-ups pulled the plug on the operation. They were cut off in hostile territory, with local troops and their Cuban "advisors" rapidly closing in. And then the alien spaceship landed.. ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 335 pages
Published 1980 by Ace Books (first published January 1st 1979)
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(showing 1-30)
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Mike (the Paladin)
I am a bit royally ticked about this book. See I like it. I've liked other books by the writers they have turned out some great science fiction (and science fantasy). Much of it with plenty of action, a lot of it with thought provoking ideas.

The book's great. I sort of stumbled over it after seeing it reviewed and recommended here. Went to the library web-sight and there it was. Hoopla had it in audio all I had to do was download it.

It's not a totally new idea human soldiers from earth get tra
Rachel MacNaught
Jan 13, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Grand story, awesome premise and absolutely no substance. Not a single element of storytelling is implored here. It's a concept, a rough sketch. "They did this and then went here. Everyone now is fluent in Latin. Now it is two years later. Something occurs. It's now a week later."

I was bored to death. Which frankly sucks because the concept is awesome. Planets around the universe in which humans were transplanted centuries ago, taking the current culture at the time with them. The variables coul
A quick, but interesting group of ideas. Plenty of action with a neat balance between high & low technology. There were a lot of neat themes that played out quickly. My edition is a paperback with a lot of good drawings in it. I think I would have liked the book better if the ideas had been more fully developed, but that might have taken volumes.
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In many ways, the best science fiction is that based on human history, and this story is one of the best. It opens with Captain Rick Galloway leading a group of mercenaries against a larger Cuban unit in a tropical African country. The situation is dire and they all know that their fate is to either be killed in action or executed after being captured. Officials of their sponsor, the American CIA, pulled all support for their operation, so they can expect no assistance.
Suddenly, a spaceship l
Dirk Grobbelaar
Well, this is quite far removed from the stuff Pournelle did with Larry Niven. I've enjoyed the books of the latter, as well as the collaborations between the two authors, so it was only a matter of time before getting around to one of Pournelle's solo outings. Janissaries appears to be quite popular, and I can see why, it does have a pulpy, old school charm interspersed with some darker elements that is somewhat appealing. The only problem that I had with this novel was that I thought it wasn't ...more
Apr 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: SciFi, military, historical buffs
I love this book and just passed it along to my 12-year-old son, who read it in one sitting. The whole idea of aliens kidnapping military units from throughout history has been done before. In fact, I still enjoy watching my copy of Dr. Who's War Games. In this book, however, even with modern weapons and 20th Century tactics, the hero is forced to fight with proven methods of Roman legions. It doesn't have to make sense, but this book has always been in my top 25, no matter how many good ones I ...more
Feb 21, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
The first of these earth warrior adbucted to fight aliens low-tech wars I read. Not the best. That's probably be Poul Anderson's The High Crusade.

Still, a good read
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good adventurous book. Has some of the best of both worlds from Sci-Fi and fantasy.
CIA mercs fighting in Africa against Cubans are getting swoops a UFO and whisks them to safety on the moon! One little catch: they can't go home, but they can go far far away and grow drugs for the ETs. I'm not kidding. The world they're left on is a mish-mash of earlier civilizations that the ETs have planted there before (every 600 years). There are Romans, Celts, and Greeks... and now American me
Kevin Findley
This edition is lavishly illustrated and is described by many as either a trade paperback or an illustrated novel. I prefer the latter description, it seems more accurate.

Lavish is the correct word to use. It's an amazing attempt to enhance storytelling that we just don't see anymore. I picked up this copy and the sequel at a second-hand shop and am looking forward to the next book.

Even if you have already read another version, find this one and dive into the adventures of Rick Galloway once mo
Pedro L. Fragoso
Feb 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jo Walton is right, great adventure and universe.
Pat Beard
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quick fun read.
Oct 04, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very old school, probably would have liked it as a teenager, fits with the genre
Brandyn Murillo
Sep 19, 2016 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
There is an existing comment on this book that says the following, "The variables could have been fascinating. The social structure, the variance of history playing out in relation to even the change of landscape. The different climates, the moons... and yet none of it is explored."

To which, I have to completely agree. I am only halfway done with the book or so, and while I am drawn into the story by the narrative element, I have to say I am disappointed by the universe Pournelle created. I feel
M. J.
Oct 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 17, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This book has an interesting story to tell. I didn't care for all of the characters, but the plot had some nice twists at the end that took it from "average" to "above average." The way that the story was structured was perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book. The first chapter introduces the Captain, the second chapter introduces Gwen, and the third chapter introduces you to Tylara, the last main character. Their paths have not intersected by the end of the third chapter, and the book i ...more
Ian Anderson
The book centres around Rick Galloway, who is the new comer to an alien world. Selected for his military training, it is his obsession with military history and openness to other knowledge puts him into an advantageous position.

The book is written in the third person, Jumping from one character to another, usually at chapter boundries. The action is fast paced and modern readers can check the historic references in Wikipedia etc.

There is a contact between humans and aliens in this book, includin
Jan 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books. The first book of three. I recently reread this last year and it was just as good the second time around. It is a blend of 20th-century mercenaries, alien abduction, Roman legions, medieval warfare and politics.

A band of CIA backed mercenaries find themselves on the losing side of Cold War era conflict in an unnamed African country. They are saved from certain death by aliens and whisked away to a remote planet to suppress the local populace. The inhabitants of this pl
Kat  Hooper
Sep 05, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Captain Rick Galloway and the soldiers he commands were surrounded by hostile enemies when the flying saucer arrived and offered them a way out of certain death. They had to take it. Now they’re on a planet called Tran where they’re expected to oversee the growth and harvest of a marijuana-like plant which their alien “saviors” collect and distribute on the black market when it ripens every 600 years. A human woman named Gwen has also been dumped on the planet after her boyfriend, who was workin ...more
Sep 19, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The story is rather cliche and it has been done before. Alien race kidnaps band of earth soldiers. Commander of band is a student of military history. Band is plonked down on an alien world inhabited by primitive humans. Mayhem ensues.

Nothing like an old seventies classic, down to the black and white illustrations. Pournelle does well when there is a strong military component. I did not have great hopes for this title, but it grew on me. Both the macroplot (the aliens) and the microplot (showing
Nov 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this years ago, I remember enjoying it pretty well. Basically, you have a bunch of mercenaries who have been sent on a suicide mission by the CIA. They get abducted by aliens, who tell them that since they're supposed to be dead anyway, no one will miss them. Then they're taken to another planet, where it turns out the aliens have been relocating Earthlings for centuries. It's basically a medieval world with its own history and cultures, but the 20th century soldiers upset the balance of po ...more
I originally read this book not long after it was originally published a little over 30 years ago. I came across it the other day and decided to re-read it.

This book is an easy read about a group of U.S. soldiers on a CIA operation that has gone all wrong, and just before they would be overrun and killed, are rescued by aliens who offer them a chance to live if they'd take on a job for them. It eventually turns out this job is on another planet, inhabited by the descendants of other humans who h
Steven Clark
I read Janissaries many years ago, after I'd come off reading Lucifer's Hammer. I liked the story, and it was good prose. Adequate, if not enthralling. The soldiers being used by aliens is a good concept, and Gwen's character allows a deeper examination of the alien society that uses the soldiers. The idea of different societies being sent to this world at different eras also was clever.
The battle scenes were good, and I enjoyed the illustrations. They were well integrated with the text, and I w
Connor Kennedy
Nov 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like “Gilligan’s Island”, this book follows the adventures of a group of people stranded on a planet billions of miles from Earth. Unlike “Gilligan’s Island”, there are no laughs, and they are not the only ones stranded on the planet. A group of aliens have been snatching humans from Earth every 600 years and leaving them on this uncharted planet. A place where civilization is similar to the Roman Empire circa 400 AD.

The best part of this book is the battle between the Barbarians and the Romans.
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've always liked modern day soldiers going back in time, the concept for me has always really thrilled me. I just really like how they build an army and then kick-ass. It's nice.

Sadly, that was its only redeeming point in this book. Its character were quite annoying. More so, Gwen. Gwen is an ugly, angry, abandoned, smart/really stupid girl that will drive readers up the wall with her superior cryptic shit that she pulls over the readers and the main hero.

The series, is a lot different from the
Dec 28, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The premise of this book is very similar to David Drake's Ranks of Bronze. A team of soldiers fighting Cubans in Africa is rescued from certain death by a group of aliens. After a brief stay in a station hidden on Earth's moon, they are transported to a distant planet to conquer the natives there and grow drugs for the aliens. It's not that simple, of course. There is infighting between the American soldiers themselves, and they attach themselves to different factions of the "natives" (all broug ...more
Martin Glen
Read this after it being mentioned by Jo Walton as an old favourite, but found it an underwhelming experience. The premise had promise (modern-day human soldiers dumped on a medieval-tech world introduce innovative ideas and disruptive tech to whip native ass), but the execution was stilted and frankly unrealistic. The characters were barely-drawn cyphers, and every female one fails the Bechdel test in true classic Golden Age SF style (see Dune for a contemporary which does not, for the most par ...more
Mar 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
The epitome of cheesy and fun. A group of Earth soldiers find themselves far from home on a world similar to the civilizations of long ago (Romans, Scots, etc.). History gets condensed and the future approaches quickly.

It's not the most inspired writing, but I enjoyed the adventure. The illustrations were reminiscent of the "Great Illustrated Classics." Not sure if they really added much to the story, but they certainly did not take anything away.

Recommended for all those who have a couple hou
A.J. Hoover
As a military sci-fi ... this one is interesting enough ... however ... it and its 2 sequels suffer from way too many minor and under developed characters and too many amorphous locations/large scale battle movements to keep track of ... a lot like the major failings of Destroyermen .. AND the series is unfinished ... books four and five having been planned and promised for over 2 decades .. author is now in his 80's ... cannot recommend any higher than 3 stars
Jon Estle
Jan 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found a copy of this book in my Dad's den. The cover intrigued me. Something about the book hooked me. I read it cover to cover in just a few days. (More than my Dad did btw, I found a bookmark about 30 pages in). When they switch to the people already one the alien planet, its a little jarring, but overall good writing. I understood everyone's motivation. Jerry Pournelle is a classic sci fi author. At least one of his books should be on every one's list.
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Dr Jerry Eugene Pournelle was an American science fiction writer, engineer, essayist, and journalist, who contributed for many years to the computer magazine Byte, and from 1998 until his death maintained his own website and blog.

From the beginning, Pournelle's work centered around strong military themes. Several books describe the fictional mercenary infantry force known as Falkenberg's Legion. T
More about Jerry Pournelle...

Other Books in the Series

Janissaries (3 books)
  • Clan and Crown (Janissaries, #2)
  • Storms of Victory  (Janissaries, #3)

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