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Black On Black Mass Market Paperback – 1 Jan 1999


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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Baen Books (1 Jan 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671577883
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671577889
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 1.8 x 17.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 950,247 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Heyoka Blackeagle stepped out of the shuttle's conditioned air into a hot buffeting wind. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Mar 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was hooked from the very first page. Wentworth wastes no time in transporting us to a strange and inscrutable desert planet. The action starts with a bang, but skillfully interwoven with telling details about the planet, which provides a seductive, gritty, and sometimes surprising backdrop for the fiendishly clever plot. The twists and turns, enjoyable in themselves, add up to a fascinating story as the protagonist, alien-born but raised on Earth, sets out to unravel the riddle of his childhood kidnapping from his home world, and the possible religious significance of the color of his fur (yes, fur). Wentworth manages to get inside the minds of her characters, even the aliens, in a very satisfying, and sometimes hilarious, way. (For example, an alien using a radio communicator addresses her interlocutor contemptuously as "box," since that is what the radio looks like to her.)
Emotionally jolting and intellectually satisfying, "Black On Black" is a worthy successor to the "Dune" series and the tradition of literary off-world science fiction. I highly recommend it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Feb 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Rescued from slavers, raised among humans, the alien Heyoka must return to his birthworld and regain his place in Hrinnti society. Nebula nominee K. D. Wentworth does a masterful job in giving readers a multi-faceted view of an alien society, its strengths and beauties, warts and foibles. Indeed, Wentworth's particular genius is a wholeness of vision: even the darkest character is shown to have a glimmering of light, whether it is the tenderness in the vicious priest Rakshal's instruction of the cublings or the beauty in the songs of the nihilistic Flek invaders. Such touches, however, never stand in the way of Wentworth's killer plot, full of devious twists and stunning action scenes. Like the young hero of STAR WARS, Heyoka learns that the fate of countless worlds rests on his search for self.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K. Newman on 18 Jan 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Heyoka Blackeagle was stolen from his own (alien) kind when but a cubling, rescued and raised by a Native American Indian, and then trained as a combat soldier fighting against the fearsome Fleck. Although alien races are known of by humans, Heyoka’s particular race, the Hrinn, are an unknown quantity and it was not easy for him to find the planet of his birth. Now he is back on his home world, with his human partner in arms Mitsu. But discovering his origins, fighting for acceptance, understanding his destiny and even battling an unexpected threat to the planet and potentially this section of the universe is a whole lot more than Heyoka thought he was signing up for when he came home.
Hrinn are not human, as much as Heyoka might wish that he more closely resembled a human, and the alien quality of the race and the planet is for me the strongest element in the book. It takes it a step above other first contact type tales. Conversely it also meant that I had to take a little more time to understand and come to grips with the Hrinn in general, and also Heyoka himself, as Heyoka was the bridge between alien and human. The Hrinn live violently and to a degree savagely, and their way of thinking and coming to terms with the world they live in is not an easy one. It does require a bit more effort to feel a connection with the Hrinn side of the story – and at least initially this is opposed to Heyoka’s story and thus the central character of the book.
However, once the characters were distinguished and given a role inside my head, I found I really enjoyed being submerged in this alien world, and cheered as Heyoka worked desperately towards both preserving the best of it, while also bringing the race of his birth to a place where they could develop and grow into something more.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 16 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Praise For "Black On Black" 1 Mar 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was hooked from the very first page. Wentworth wastes no time in transporting us to a strange and inscrutable desert planet. The action starts with a bang, but skillfully interwoven with telling details about the planet, which provides a seductive, gritty, and sometimes surprising backdrop for the fiendishly clever plot. The twists and turns, enjoyable in themselves, add up to a fascinating story as the protagonist, alien-born but raised on Earth, sets out to unravel the riddle of his childhood kidnapping from his home world, and the possible religious significance of the color of his fur (yes, fur). Wentworth manages to get inside the minds of her characters, even the aliens, in a very satisfying, and sometimes hilarious, way. (For example, an alien using a radio communicator addresses her interlocutor contemptuously as "box," since that is what the radio looks like to her.)
Emotionally jolting and intellectually satisfying, "Black On Black" is a worthy successor to the "Dune" series and the tradition of literary off-world science fiction. I highly recommend it.
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Human/versus/Other 15 April 2001
By Walt Boyes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Rarely are new alien species created with so much "backstory" so clearly delineated. In Black on Black, K. D. Wentworth brings us not one, but two new aliens: the Hrinn, and the Flek. Astutely camoflaged as an action-adventure space opera, Black on Black is really a meditation and a fugue on the concept of "other." Heyoka, who is neither human nor Hrinn, faces a lifetime of otherness. Raised by a consummate human outsider, a Sioux warrior, he tries to camoflage his otherness by joining the military...yet somehow, the fact that he is about 7 feet tall, with fangs and claws, and huge sharp teeth, and very black fur covering his entire body somehow keeps interfering with his desire to be considered fully human. His journey of discovery to find his roots as Hrinn get him into more trouble than it is worth, yet somehow he manages to float through it without getting too involved....until, that is, his human partner, Mitsu, turns up missing and is found to be a brainwashed slave of the Flek...Hrinn versus Flek...two complete opposites as alien species. The Flek, a hive species while the Hrinn are so individualistic they can hardly live with each other, let alone humans and Flek. Heyoka is very well realized, and stops way short of becoming the invincible star-guided hero that most bad space opera provides. He is a seven-foot-tall bag of insecurities and wants/needs/desires just like the rest of the universe. Wentworth craftily disguises this metaphysical tractatus as a rip-roaring space opera, with plenty of action to disguise the thought pill.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Frankly, he preferred humans... 15 Feb 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Rescued from slavers, raised among humans, the alien Heyoka must return to his birthworld and regain his place in Hrinnti society. Nebula nominee K. D. Wentworth does a masterful job in giving readers a multi-faceted view of an alien society, its strengths and beauties, warts and foibles. Indeed, Wentworth's particular genius is a wholeness of vision: even the darkest character is shown to have a glimmering of light, whether it is the tenderness in the vicious priest Rakshal's instruction of the cublings or the beauty in the songs of the nihilistic Flek invaders. Such touches, however, never stand in the way of Wentworth's killer plot, full of devious twists and stunning action scenes. Like the young hero of STAR WARS, Heyoka learns that the fate of countless worlds rests on his search for self.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
An Auspicious Debut for a Series 7 Oct 2002
By Chrijeff - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
One of my favorite subdivisions of the vast sf field is what I call the "culture-dependent" story--one that takes place on an alien world and turns upon the differences between its native race and humanity. It's not an easy type to write convincingly, because a human author naturally tends to think like a human, and up to now there are only two--C. J. Cherryh and Poul Anderson--whom I've found really capable of getting into an alien's skin and viewing the Universe through its eyes (and sometimes other senses). With "Black on Black," new author Wentworth, like Superman clearing a tall building, joins this auspicious company in a single bound.
Ranger Sgt. Heyoka Blackeagle, his name to the contrary, is not an Oglala Sioux (though he was reared by one), but a hrinn--a lupine type of nonhuman, seven feet tall, with an all-over coat of black fur, two thumbs on each hand, and retractible claws on every digit. Invalided out of the Service after sustaining a leg wound in the ongoing war against the insectoid flek, he makes up his mind to visit his homeworld, Anktan, for the first time in his conscious memory (his foster father rescued him from a slave pen when he was little more than an infant), and try to find his roots. His human partner, Cpl. Mitsu Jensen, is due a leave and goes with him.
His initial contact with other hrinnti is both confusing and dismaying: they take him for an "Outsider" and "one of the Dead" (their name for anyone with an alien smell), yet at least some of them seem to attach great importance to his coloring--solid black outer- and undercoats, with not a speck of other hue (hence the title of the book). Gradually he discovers that he may be the last survivor of the Levv, a Line that was destroyed by an alliance of hrinnti for supposed infractions of the species' social code at about the time of his birth; that his coming has been the subject of prophecy--and that something very peculiar is going on at the local Confederation base.
When Mitsu is captured by one of the hrinn Lines, then mysteriously vanishes after supposedly being returned to her own kind, it's up to Heyoka to weld the quarrelsome Lines--dominated by females--and the males' houses into a single force that can somehow prevent the flek from completing the transport grid they've been secretly constructing in the back country for over 30 years. If he fails, his people will be destroyed, their world remade to suit flek ideas of perfection, and the enemy will have a staging area from which to strike at dozens of nearby planets.
For all his alienness, Heyoka is a sympathetic character whose feelings of rootlessness in a human culture and struggle to repress "the other who lives inside him" echo the frequent literary theme of alienation. And the hrinnti, though hardly the most sympathetic nonhuman race in sf--with their savage quarrelsomeness and lack of any concept of friendship or family--are fascinating in their gradually revealed history, their fixation on what they call "patterns," and their image of the godhead, which they call "the Voice."
Wentworth slips readily from human to hrinnti viewpoint, and when reading chapters written in the latter, it's easy to forget that this is a fictional people invented by a human. What resolves the story is the ability of some hrinnti, Heyoka among them, to "use power"-- somehow storing and channelling a kind of cosmic electricity through their own cells: a concept that is, to the best of my knowlege, completely new to the genre.
If you enjoy adventures on distant worlds and like to meet new species, "Black on Black" is your kind of book.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The Lost-Male Returns 16 Oct 2003
By Arthur W. Jordin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Black on Black is the first novel in the Hrinn series. Heyoka Blackeagle is a hrinn who was stolen from his people as a cubling. Rescued from the slavers by a old trader, Ben Blackeagle, Heyoka has been raised among the Oglala Lakota. Now he is a Confederate Ranger and is spending a leave on Anktan searching for his hrinnti roots. Unfortunately, his partner, Mitsu Jensen, insists on joining him.

In this novel, Heyoka approaches the hrinnti near the base, is disparaged as one of the Dead smelling Outsiders, yet is invited to the males' house for more talk. Mitsu ignores his efforts to go alone, follows behind him, and is caught by the hrinnti. Heyoka has just learned that he comes from the Levv Line, but rushes out of the males' house when he hears the sounds of Mitsu fighting her captor. Although he tries to hurry through the crowd, he is slowed and slashed by some of the males and she is gone by the time he gets there.

Heyoka returns to the base to start a search for Mitsu, but the Director of the Research Station, Eeal Eldrich, refuses to let any of his people join the search. Moreover, the station doctor sedates him while tending his wounds. When he awakes the following morning, the trail is long cold, but he goes out anyway. As he attempts to enter the Line Hold where Mitsu is being held, the males catch up to him and escort him down into their meeting house. There he is accused of being a fake manufactured by the Outsiders and is challenged to a duel. The leader of the house, Nisk, intercedes, declares that he is sponsoring Heyoka, and takes the challenge for him. When Nisk loses, both he and Heyoka have to leave the area by sundown.

Something is going on that involves the research station and some of the Line leaders, something that resulted in the destruction of the Levv Line almost thirty years ago. To the hrinnti, a new and awesome pattern/in/progress is forming, centered on the black-on-black male, Heyoka. Some of the hrinnti are trying to kill him and others are protecting him. Meanwhile, someone is using off-world weapons to kill hrinnti.

The author obviously knows something about the American Plains Indians and other Indian tribes, for some the hrinnti culture and environment seems to derive from these people. However, the hrinnti society also has some similarity to the pack behavior of wolves. All in all, the author has created a believable sentient, but predatory, species and culture.

The author does have some problems with human military ranks and terminology, but seems to have corrected these deficiencies in the sequel. However, the author does comprehend some aspects of human military thinking and the depiction of both the hrinnti and the flek aliens shows a rare talent in speculative xenopsychology.

Recommended for Wentworth fans and anyone else who enjoys reading about exotic cultures in a science fiction setting.

-Arthur W. Jordin
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