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Land of the Dead (In the Time of the Sixth Sun) [Mass Market Paperback]

Thomas Harlan
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 478 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (29 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076535053X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765350534
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 10.5 x 16.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 848,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 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!
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 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.]
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 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.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun, but could have been better 24 Aug 2009
By N. Finney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
3 1/2 stars. I'd almost forgotten Thomas Harlan's series about this far future Japanes/Aztec hybrid space culture, since it was so long since the last volume in the series. I snapped it up from the bookshelves as soon as I saw it, and I must say for the most part quite enjoyed it. Ancient artifacts, political intrigue, hostile aliens, black holes and gravitational sinks - good old fashioned space opera. But I have two major quibbles: (1) the constant POV shift from chapter to chapter. I know this is something that is currently prevalent in the sci-fi/fantasy genre, but I still bring it up, because I find it detracts from the cohesion of the story, and the ability to fully realize a character. I am not suggesting there be no POV shifts, but that they occur less frequently and perhaps with fewer characters. (2) The space battles, as the Empire and the alien bandits tried to get closer to the ancient artifact. This went on far too long. Perhaps there are afficinados of 2nd World War battles (ones that really happened) who like to know every detail of each battle, but imaginary space battles described with the same aching detail weigh the book down. Otherwise, I do recommend the book for fans of space opera and alternate histories.
4.0 out of 5 stars Things can get very dangerous out on the rim 6 Feb 2014
By Clyde M. Wisham Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the third book in Thomas Harlan's In the Time of the Sixth Sun series. It can be read alone, but you will get more out of it if you read the preceding two books first ("Wasteland of Flint" and "House of Reeds"). The stories take place in an Aztec/Japanese dominated human star empire in the far future of an alternate history line. (All three books are good stories.)
I really like Harlan's writing style. He doesn't go in for info-dumps, but rather lets the details of things such as the back story and the political situation come out naturally through the characters actions, observations, decisions, and memories. (Reminds me somewhat of Vonda N. McIntyre in that respect.)
The book follows the fortunes of four main characters: Susan Kosho, an Imperial Mexica Navy captain; Gretchen Anderssen, a Danish archeologist; Mitshharu Hadeishi, a former Navy captain who has lost his ship; and Green Hummingbird, a very devious and dangerous Imperial agent. Things can get very dangerous out on the rim of the empire, and humans aren't necessarily the toughest species out there. The Imperial scout service has found an ancient and enormous artifact that might date back to the time of the First or Second Sun. It promises enormous power but is also enormously dangerous. Naturally, the empire dispatches an expedition. The two alien races that decide to get in on the game complicate things, as do the (at least) four human factions with their own agendas. Things get very complicated and very violent with lots of naval combat. I don't think it is a spoiler to say that not everyone makes it back.
If you like Jack McDevitt's books, you will probably like this one.
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