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The Lives of Tao (Tao, #1)
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BotM Discussion - SCI-FI > The Lives of Tao / Overall Discussion / **Spoilers**

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Gareth Lee | 31 comments I had mixed feelings about this one.

The problem was I didn’t really connect with Roen. I didn’t mind too much that he was a bit awkward but he seemed a bit simple and never seemed to think about what he was doing, despite supposedly having above average intelligence, and I thought the way Tao transformed him by putting him on a diet, giving him the confidence to talk to women and stand up to his boss felt a bit trite.

Also I couldn’t understand why Tao didn’t get Roen to move out of Chicago with the Genjix hunting him.

Having said that it was a good a story and I liked the idea human history being manipulated two factions of aliens at war with each other. It was easy read and felt it worked at the level it was intended.


message 2: by Paul, A wanderer in unknown realms (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul | 3524 comments Mod
Just starting Rise of Io which is the first in the spinoff series. Quite liked this book and the rest of the series. Fun in parts but generally well paces and plotted.


Gareth Lee | 31 comments One thing I wasn’t sure about was Tao’s relationship to Taoism.

I guessed that Tao was probably the inspiration for Toaism in same way Shiva was the reason the goddess Shiva got her name, but he never boasts about founding one the world’s most influential religions as one of his accomplishments.

I read The Tao of Pooh years ago which argued that Winnie-the-pooh simpleminded nature embodied the principles of Taoism. Possibly, Tao’s influence on Roen explains why he was so simple or at least that’s how he seemed to me anyway.


message 4: by Lel (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lel (lelspear) | 1766 comments I really liked this book. I listened to it as an audiobook and found the pace, action and story to be just up my street. I loved the complex weaving through history of the war between the factions.
I found Roen a bit simple as well Gareth, but that made him more endearing to me than annoying. More like a little brother that needs guidance than anything else.
I found the end a little upsetting. Roan has really been through a lot in his year or so as a host. I'm going to jump straight into the next one to see what happens with the rest of the war and where Roan goes after the shoot out with Sean.
Who bets that he is still alive?


message 5: by Paul, A wanderer in unknown realms (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul | 3524 comments Mod
I've read the while series so I won't give anything away ;-)


Gareth Lee | 31 comments Lel, I usually find simple characters endearing, but this time I didn’t feel a connection.

The book it reminded me a little bit of was the Terry Pratchet novel Small Gods in which a great god finds himself without any powers in the body of a tortoise because people have stopped believing in him. You have a similar relationship between a man and an immortal being where the divine being can’t do much except talk to the man.

The main character in that one was a bit simple in that one too but he was thoughtful and worked things out for himself and I liked him. Whereas with this one even though I thought the story was well constructed and quite enjoyed it, it didn’t affect me emotionally very much because I didn’t feel engaged with the characters.

But, it may just not have been my sort of book. Some people find the character in Small Gods a bit ponderous and boring.


Oleksandr Zholud Initially I was put off by the prologue when Ed kills two guards without remorse and even with panache. However, the following story appeared more interesting even if a bit naive. The idea of alien rivalry is interesting even if it brings questions why wise aliens inhabiting humans told and wrote so much unscientific stuff, or why they allowed for such a long pre-history for humans (and even don't mention any person from it)... The making of superspy from an overweight unfit person by a sexy female trainer sounds like a wet dream


message 8: by Amy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy | 401 comments I thought the premise sounded great; ancient aliens at war, human hosts, pizza loving slob turned super spy, but I found the reality of reading this a real slog. Although, perhaps being a spy does take months of monotonous training and stakeout missions are really boring, so maybe I've just been watching too much James Bond.

The highlights for me were the parts at the beginning of each chapter where Tao tells us of his previous lives and the Quasings' effects on human history, sadly these were only a paragraph long.

Oleksandr wrote: "Initially I was put off by the prologue when Ed kills two guards without remorse and even with panache...."
I actually prefered reading Edward's chapter to Roen's developing story, I'm not sure what that says about me.


message 9: by Roger, Knight Radiant (new) - rated it 4 stars

Roger | 1988 comments Mod
I'm about half way through this and enjoying it so far, I'm interested in seeing how the Prophus use Roen. He seems kind of useless physically (I'm at the part where he starts using weapons in his training with Sonya), we will see if he's any better with a gun than he is with a staff.


message 10: by Sandy (new) - added it

Sandy | 1636 comments Done and done. I started out not thinking too much of this book but I thought the growth of Roen, be it good or bad depending on your philosophy, was well done and well executed.

Not sure how I really feel about the author's intent to not let a host go without death. I have to balk at the taking over with or without permission but I guess it really makes the story much more believable and the conflict too for the characters and the growth of the characters.

I did like the philosophy of peaceful evolution vs war time evolution when so much of scientific advances happen - interesting use of historical fact, I thought.


message 11: by Sandy (new) - added it

Sandy | 1636 comments Amy wrote: "I thought the premise sounded great; ancient aliens at war, human hosts, pizza loving slob turned super spy, but I found the reality of reading this a real slog. Although, perhaps being a spy does ..."

I think that says you like James Bond the finished man instead of the untrained boy. ;-)


message 12: by Sandy (last edited Sep 24, 2019 06:05PM) (new) - added it

Sandy | 1636 comments I guess I related to Roen, in that I have been in jobs I hated and wondered what good they really do. It speaks to our human need to make a difference in the world...at least it did to me.

I did also like the beginning of each chapter, they were very interesting historical tie-ins. It is nice to think that the reason humans can be so brutal to each other with war after war is because they are a host for aliens. Sadly, not true...


message 13: by Sam (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sam (aramsamsam) | 344 comments I finished the audiobook for this a while ago, and looking back it already starts to fade in my memory. There were some cool ideas, like the aliens really being present through all of mankind's history. But the execution somehow fell flat for me.

Also, I wasn't a huge fan of Roen. He was this big sad couch potato with zero ambitions who becomes a spy along the way. I'm not saying this can never happen, but I didn't believe it from how the transformation was presented in the book. Roen stays sulky, incapable, and clumsy for a very long time, and then suddenly he's some wannabe Bond. The character was kind of flat, which has been said in this thread a couple of times.

So: Many good stories and set pieces, that ultimately weren't taken far enough or put together seemlessly. Part of me wonders if I should read part two to find out whether Chu found his mojo and maybe developed his vision a little further to make it more round.


message 14: by Hope (last edited Oct 01, 2019 08:31PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Hope | 46 comments Just finished this. I agree with a lot of the other comments that Roen felt a bit flat. That and, since this is his origin story, it felt more like the story was being set up with nothing really happening until the last 50 pages.

I did like the banter between Roen and Tao, though! And the idea of aliens secretly influencing history is cool as well.


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