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Land of the Dead Hardcover – 4 Aug 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 414 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (4 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765312042
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765312044
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 3.7 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,177,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. R. Cantrell on 12 Feb. 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
On to book three in this series and series-itis still fails to rear its ugly head - indeed, it's probably the best of the lot so far. We get some more background on the world the characters live in and why it differs from real history, and for most of the book it is refreshingly free of mumbo-jumbo. However, it will again fail to stand on its own, even more so than book two - this one pretty much starts at the point the previous one ended, and gives very little personal background on the major characters. Some of those characters are developed some more, which is nice to see, but even so the author assumes that you already know who they are and what they've done previously.

Remember how I said that for most of the book it is free of mumbo-jumbo? Well, unfortunately it really falls on its face in the last few pages. Sure, it's dressed up in rationalism, but if you are in the least bit sceptical, then you will just be plain annoyed at how the author seems to think that so many peoples' actions can be so carefully manipulated to make individuals do exactly what is needed. I'm afraid that that holds no water whatsoever. You can, of course, manipulate the actions of large numbers of people, giving them little pushes onto a new course - advertisers and politicians do this all the time - but to spend the last few pages of what had been an excellent story up until that point attempting to list all the people whose actions had been chosen in advance by the man behind the curtain is just silly and leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Not only is this explanation of what's been happening annoying, it shouldn't really be necessary.

Harlan clearly needs to study human behaviour a bit more. I recommend Seldon's papers on the subject.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. Helsdon on 1 Aug. 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Something unknown to Imperial science is lurking within the dust of the Kuub nebula.

Something ancient and deadly, holding a legacy from the distant past.

Something discovered by a doomed squadron of survey ships.

'Land of the Dead' is the third of Thomas Harlan's 'Sixth Sun' series, and follows some of the consequences of the events of 'House of Reeds'. On the surface, 'Land of the Dead' involves the discovery in deep space of an enigmatic artefact of one of the most powerful long-vanished civilisations of the Galaxy -- something vast, dangerous and mysterious -- and the conflict between those who would possess it.

'Land of the Dead' can be read and enjoyed on multiple levels: as fast and furious space opera, but it is also the darkest so far, with treachery, betrayal and revenge at its core (leading to a confrontation vaguely reminiscent of that at the Reichenbach Falls) countered by redemption, loyalty and the relationship of a parent to their child. The story stretches from the cold lonely streets of Shinedo on the Pacific coast of North America, to intrigues in the Imperial capital of Tenochtitlan in the Valley of Mexico, to the absolute zero of a hazardous nebula. All is not as it seems, and politics and ambition on Earth and beyond drive a deadly conflict, with revelations of the true status of the Méxica Empire and an ancient forgotten doom. One of the human factions will be a surprise (though foreshadowed early on in 'Wasteland of Flint'), and the semblance of Imperial solidarity is fractured by the intrigues within and between the Imperial Clan, the Mirror secret police, the Fleet and the Judges.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 22 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Total Fun 18 Aug. 2009
By Jules Mazarin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This volume is every bit as much fun to read as its predecessor, House of Reeds. (I thought Wasteland of Flint was a bit slow in comparison with the other two, but still a rewarding read.) As Mr. Helsdon's review stated, the plot is richly complex, with multiple mutual simultaneous backstabbings choreographed in a masterly way.

The only critical remarks I have about the book is that the cover jacket looks cheap. I didn't care for the generic-looking art, and there seems to be a bit of flimsiness to the heft and binding...but even if the publisher had to cut costs to publish this book, I'm grateful they published it.

We have hitherto unheard-of Powers and Organizations enter the stage this time round. It appears that the Aztec Empire controls information about the true situation of the human race vis-a-vis the other intelligent species in the universe very tightly, and that the reader apparently had no need-to-know about some of these races in the previous volumes. Not only that, but there are some decidedly startling human organizations active in human space; at least one of them appears to be about equally as powerful as the Aztecs. It's strange we didn't hear about them before...but they are a secret society, after all.

I enjoyed the wider view of his alternate world that Harlan gives us in Land of the Dead, and the suspenseful plot couldn't have been tighter. This is a book to make you lose sleep, but it's worth the bleary eyes the next morning. The ending was a total head-slapper for me. Who woulda thunk...hey, I liked HIM! And how could she...well, buy the book. Read it!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This series just keeps getting better 16 July 2010
By Alexander Gray - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Thomas Harlan seems to have really hit his stride with this series and this book shows off his craft very well. The universe he's created is very fresh. He's successfully envisioned an Aztec space Empire with Japanese and Scottish mixed in. I also like that humanity is portrayed as one of the weaker races in space. Harlan gets a head start on universes like this from his other jobs creating games, Since the players lead the universe in unexpected directions. However he hasn't let it harm the books the way he did in the Oath of Fire series when important characters would suddenly fall out of the story.
The plotting is good enough that I look forward to reading this again in a few months. Now that I know the end it will be fun to see what I missed the first time I read it.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die 4 Aug. 2009
By M. Helsdon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Something unknown to Imperial science is lurking within the dust of the Kuub nebula.

Something ancient and deadly, holding a legacy from the distant past.

Something discovered by a doomed squadron of survey ships.

'Land of the Dead' is the third of Thomas Harlan's 'Sixth Sun' series, and follows some of the consequences of the events of 'House of Reeds'. On the surface, 'Land of the Dead' involves the discovery in deep space of an enigmatic artefact of one of the most powerful long-vanished civilisations of the Galaxy -- something vast, dangerous and mysterious -- and the conflict between those who would possess it.

'Land of the Dead' can be read and enjoyed on multiple levels: as fast and furious space opera, but it is also the darkest so far, with treachery, betrayal and revenge at its core (leading to a confrontation vaguely reminiscent of that at the Reichenbach Falls) countered by redemption, loyalty and the relationship of a parent to their child. The story stretches from the cold lonely streets of Shinedo on the Pacific coast of North America, to intrigues in the Imperial capital of Tenochtitlan in the Valley of Mexico, to the absolute zero of a hazardous nebula. All is not as it seems, and politics and ambition on Earth and beyond drive a deadly conflict, with revelations of the true status of the Méxica Empire and an ancient forgotten doom. One of the human factions will be a surprise (though foreshadowed early on in 'Wasteland of Flint'), and the semblance of Imperial solidarity is fractured by the intrigues within and between the Imperial Clan, the Mirror secret police, the Fleet and the Judges.

The series has a shifting cast of characters, and the interweaving threads of this novel feature the disgraced officer Mitsuharu Hadeishi, Susan Koshô at the helm of her first command the battlecruiser Naniwa, the Swedish-Russian xenoarchaeologist Gretchen Anderssen and the Méxica judge Green Hummingbird. An Imperial Prince, Xochitl, is a major character and a complete contrast to his brother Tezozómoc (who appeared in 'House of Reeds'). Sadly, Parker and Magdelena are firmly off stage; it can only be hoped they will appear in a future volume.

Of all the characters in this volume, Hadeishi is the perhaps the most complex, and a primary thread follows on from the loss of his ship in 'House of Reeds'. His recollections of old television episodes of The Book of Five Rings featuring the sword-saint Lord Miyamoto Musashi (in this time line involved in the Restoration of the Home Islands of Japan from the rule of a Mongol oppressor) give both an insight into Hadeishi's character and his earlier actions, and a window into the history of this alternate past/future history. Hadeishi, the son of a violin-maker and a shop-clerk, though the descendant of samurai, lacks the high clan status to survive the disgrace of the loss of the Corneulle, but childhood memories of the adventures of Musashi (fighting Mongols, Maori, Iroquois and bandits - with a nod to the Seven Samurai) inspire him to struggle against the fate decreed by Admiralty and Emperor.

Although Gretchen and Hummingbird are pivotal to the plot, and Koshô shows her mettle, this is very much Hadeishi's story, as he follows the teachings of his childhood hero, enacting the role of a samurai turned ronin in the depths of deep space.

'Land of the Dead' includes major battles, with warships tens or hundreds of thousands of kilometres apart manoeuvring at high g as swarms of missiles accelerate in and particle beams and lasers excite the dust of the Kuub: time and distance contracting in lethal combat. The impressions of space warfare are a vividly drawn backdrop to the heart of the mystery within the Kuub.

On the surface, 'Land of the Dead' is a classic tale of space combat and adventure, and it can certainly be read as a story of high adventure and peril. Behind this are wheels within wheels, with clues scattered throughout. Without giving any spoilers, the most obvious clue is what happens to the scout ships, why they just happen to be exactly *where* they are, and who may have sent them there. There are layers upon layers, and after reading the final chapter, the reader would be rewarded to re-read the first few chapters.

Each of the novels of the 'Sixth Sun' lies within a slightly different genre: 'Wasteland of Flint' - explored the relationship between science and mysticism; 'House of Reeds' - colonialism and political intrigue; `Land of the Dead' - space combat and <...>. All three share the underlying theme of xenoarchaeology and the quest for the secrets of alien technologies. This volume strongly hints as to why the Empire is so desperate for ancient alien tech.

With searing antimatter detonations and catastrophic revelations, 'Land of the Dead' sets the stage for future volumes.

[Declaration: Having spent time proof-reading the text of penultimate drafts I have a non-financial interest.]
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Pure and unadultered joy for the best Science-Fiction Ever 10 Dec. 2011
By T. Florian - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Well, I'm not in the habit of writing reviews for books I had enjoyed but seeing this serie having so few of them, I finally decided to add my own hoping it helps this serie reaches the heights it deserves.

So, to get this straight, I have to say the science fiction genre cannot be assessed in the too few lines Amazon would let me write for this review, if I ever wanted to. So let' assume this particular serie, though it shares a few key elements with other well known series, can stand on it own based on the sheer complexity of its plot and its character development without falling in the pitfall authors usually fell for when they try their best at writing 'space saga' spaning across whole universes.
The author, Thomas Harlan, certainly knows how to keep it tight following only several protagonists and still be able to make us feel overwhelmed with a sheer sense of hugeness implied by the reconstructed universe he is trying, and succeeding, to sell us.

My only problem with it is that the author writes too slowly. But I guess it's the price to pay if you want to read a Masterpiece.
Nowhere near as good as Wasteland of Flint and House of Reeds 12 Oct. 2011
By Hatbox Dragon - Published on Amazon.com
Land of the Dead is the latest instalment in Harlan's loosely connected series about about a far-future Human society ruled by a Mexica emperor. In the previous two books, Wasteland of Flint and House of Reeds, archeological mysteries unfold through the agency of well-drawn, appealing characters as the distant past threatens to overwhelm the present. I was expecting the same from Land of the Dead, but unfortunately this was quite a different book, with character suppressed in favour of action. An intriguing premise degenerated into battling spaceships and not much else. Harlan's attempt to move this series beyond the more contained settings and consequences of his previous books didn't really work for me, not least because so many elements had a deus ex machina feel that the whole thing started to feel quite artificial.

I was disappointed by this book and rather angry by the time I finished it. Harlan spent so long on his space battles - something I'll freely admit I have no interest in - that the events that actually wrapped up the mystery I bought this book for felt like a rushed afterthought. What happened was so unclear that it then had to be explained in a monologue infodump. Unlike in House of Reeds, the prose was clunky enough to be distracting.

While I'm glad things are working out for Hadeishi and Kosho, those excellent and likeable ship captains, I was stumped by Gretchen in Land of the Dead. She's so devoid of personality now, she's barely a presence in the book at all; just a cipher activated when the plot needs to move along. Harlan has made her artificially angry and bitter because it suits the plot, not because we've seen it grow naturally out of events. What happened to her kindness and humour, her philosophical attitude? The blame she heaped on Hummingbird made no sense in the context of the previous books, and so her actions at the end seemed motivated by nothing more than spite.

Is it unfair to judge a book unfavourably because it's such a departure from the previous books in the series? Not if there's no clue in the book description that that departure has been made, I think. Also not if key characters are so inconsistent and have become so unlikeable, and then do inexplicable things. I've given this three stars because it is imaginative and if you like action and space battles, you may very well enjoy this.
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