This book does not deserve the rating curve I see. By the time I was just a couple pages in I suspected I should have read the low-star reviews before buying, and I had to force myself to read the entire book over the course of three days so that I could honestly claim to have read the whole thing when I left the review. There are so many gaping plot holes etc. that I get tired just thinking about trying to enumerate them. I had a brief period where I managed to enjoy the book by thinking that it was an intentional parody, but I couldn't keep up the cognitive dissonance for long.
Please, go read the Dahak Trilogy by David Weber. Or the Lensman Chronicles by E.E. Doc Smith. Or even the Deathstalker Saga by Simon Green! Whatever flavor takes your fancy. Anything but this.
Read on (this review) only for some validation of my summary above. In no particular order a random sampling of some of the mind-numbing "seriously??" moments from this book:
The main character (Mike) is an architect who is whisked off to space battles and galactic intrigue when a space ship crash-lands right next to him and he immediately jumps into a firefight to help the good guys. A super-rare sentient symbiote transfers from a dying alien to him in order to survive, so he is drafted as a member of the alien crew. Of course, he is uniquely talented and charismatic, and is chosen as captain of the ship. Etc. etc. His only downside is that he takes too much time to train at first because he wants to (and is able to) have complete understanding of every facet of alien technology until they convince him that this is a waste of time because their technology never malfunctions, ever. You don't need to understand it. Of course the technology goes bad at a critical moment later on. But no one thinks anything of it. I can't even begin to go into the plot-holes of the AI programming.
The main character's party are all filled with "instinctive" and "intuitive" trust for each other. I lost track of how many times some character "just instinctively knew" the right course of action. There is a magic artificial intelligence "net" onboard military vessels that allows true meetings of the mind between characters, where everyone is filled with instinctive love and warm, fuzzy, understanding of everyone else. It allows a vast augmenting of senses, understanding, and intelligence. Full-spectrum electromagnetic sensing and intuitive understanding of new, alien senses and math is as natural as breathing, but the computer can't simulate tastes very well because, "[character] instinctively knew that the computer could not simulate senses it did not have." To test his integration with the system the main character... opens and shuts doors on the ships, and turns lights off and on. Apparently it's what you do. Giddy with his command of the alien systems, he exults in the phenomenal powers at his disposal.
The entire empire is predicated on the special, supernatural ability of the royal line to determine character and read minds, yet the plot revolves around the stunning and completely unexpected betrayal of the Empire by the First Knight (grand vizier), despite the fact that the First Knight is submitted to unique levels of verification. They must have pulled /this/ one out of a hat.
All of the characters are astonishingly naive, ignorant, and unimaginative. We're being tracked by a beacon in our transponder, what will we do? After over a year of running and fighting vastly superior forces someone finally has the bright idea of trying to find the beacon and disable it. They conclude, having made no attempt, that it must be too difficult to do. Impossible, even, despite the fact that the beacon was somehow installed during a very short stopover on another planet. Has no one ever done this before? In thousands and thousands of years of galactic history?
All quotes here are loose paraphrases.
One of the characters takes a piloting test where the final ritual ordeal is, get this, an EVA. It's hyped up as this impossible test of character to simply stand on the outside shell of a ship /in simulation/, with air and gravity. Our plucky hero overcomes his fear of the emptiness of space and stands firm on the outer shell while the instructor slithers around on his stomach braving "the void".
The romantic interest is supposedly a uniquely talented and trained diplomat with hundreds of years of experience who behaves like a preteen girl. Like the rest of the characters she has no curiosity or imagination, is surprised by nearly everything that happens and is always making incredibly stupid and short-sighted decisions. "It's okay," they always say magnanimously, "everyone makes mistakes and we will do better next time."
She has a nursing child who once makes an appearance for nursing because her breasts are "almost sore, heavy with milk" or something, and another time because she misses her baby. In the entire rest of the book she is remarkably incurious about her child, does not even think about her. Really?
Another character BLUFFS his way through all the layers of security to warn royalty of an assassination plot in person. "This is very important, but I can't tell you the details" is a magic phrase that whisks him through complacent, bovine secret service and police to talk to the Empress' heir in person. Despite knowing exact details of the assassination plot he only stupidly repeats "You're in danger!" over and over again. Then in a stunning deficit of intellect he concludes that the only way to keep the princess safe is by leaping on the poisoned artifact himself. "Next time," says the chief of security "you could have just told us it was poisoned and we would have dealt with it."
"Oh," says our plucky, uniquely intelligent, resourceful and self-educated one-legged super-orphan "I didn't think of that."
"That's okay," says the chief of security magnanimously, "everyone makes mistakes..."
Two orphans from the slums meet and discover that they are siblings. They immediately love and trust each other, all hugs and "I'll stay with you forever! You're my best friend ever!" despite the fact that they've never seen each other before. They barely even meet and talk, yet have a deep emotional bond and understanding even a decade later.
The girl orphan is a Seer and produces conveniently obscure riddle prophecies on demand. Shortly after meeting the princess she manages to convince her to leave her security detail and all weapons and technology behind so that they can go meet with the secret tree people of a colony planet, who are filled with only light and love and have no dark side and give each member of the party destinies and prophecies. I can't make this stuff up.
I can't even go on. Skip this one.