Gary's Reviews > Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard

Barsk by Lawrence M. Schoen
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Barsk has quite a unique premise, in which the galaxy is populated by uplifted animals who have no cultural memory of the humans who engineered them 60,000 years before. The Fant (uplifted elephants) manufacture a drug that allows certain gifted individuals to speak to the dead, and distribute it to the other races in the Alliance in exchange for being left alone. An ambitious Yak senator decides he doesn't want to abide by this agreement anymore, and maneuvers to steal the secret of the drug from the Fant, even if he has to exterminate their entire race to get it.

I was drawn to this book because of the originality of its setting and plot, and ultimately found that was the best thing about it. The book is perfectly fine, with well drawn characters and nice details and fascinating explorations of the nature of death and memory. The story is engrossing enough and moves at a steady pace. But it doesn't quite "turn the corner," so to speak. It lacks the kind of dramatic urgency it seems to imply, and a lot of little things that bothered me started to pile up as the book went on. It reminded me of my reaction to another novel I read recently, Planetfall - another book with a weird and fascinating premise, possessed of many of the qualities that normally grab me in a story, in which the end result was strangely unexceptional.

While I was reading Barsk I was rooting for it to be a great novel, and I kept wanting to give it a more enthusiastic recommendation, all the while knowing that I just couldn't. Still, a pretty good effort overall. I think I can see some people liking this book more than I did, so if you are also intrigued by the premise, please give it a shot.
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Reading Progress

January 3, 2016 – Shelved
January 3, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
January 9, 2016 – Started Reading
January 15, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by William (new) - added it

William Thank you for the honest review. I heard a lot about this book, it was on my top-to-read list, but no longer.

Gary William wrote: "Thank you for the honest review. I heard a lot about this book, it was on my top-to-read list, but no longer."

There are some people who adore this book, though, and there were a lot of things I admired about it despite my lukewarm response.

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