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Ragnarok (The Xan-Sskarn War) Paperback – 7 Sep 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Baen Books (7 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439133840
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439133842
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.3 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,878,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Patrick A. Vanner was born into a Marine family, and, after attending Penn State University, majoring in aerospace and electrical engineering, he enlisted in the Marine Corps like his parents before him. After a successful military tour, he earned a degree in network administration and began a career in telecommunications and information technology. He divides his time between working, reading, writing, gaming and spending an exorbitant amount of money on anime, giving truth to the saying, "Anime, it's more addictive than crack." Patrick currently lives with the love of his life, Heather, and four insane cats that make their lives interesting in every sense of the ancient Chinese curse.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By cybermage.se on 4 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
I was underwhelmed by the cover but interested by the blurb. And I am glad I read this shiny new debut novel by Patrick A. Vanner. I am always on the lookout after new military science fiction and this looks like a promising new series.

It is a about Alexandra McLaughlin a Navy commander who have had to jump out, leaving friends and comrades behind to warn Earth of a Xan-Sskarn surprise attack. She is riddled with survivor's guilt but determined to pay the aliens back. But there is a human traitor on the loose and the Xan-Sskarn victories starts to threaten the very survival of the human race. Eventually she might be the only one standing between them and eternal slavery or extinction.

There is some world building but not very extensive instead it is the characters that stand out. Patrick spends a lot of time honing out Alexandra and she is really good. There are some other memorable characters like Barbie the fighter pilot and her new team mates. The Marine Recon squad is also pretty awesome and interesting character wise. I hope we will get to know their background a little more in the next book as they come across a bit shallow in this book.

With a little more effort into the world building this would have been an awesome debut instead of just a very good one. On the other hand this is a book about a war and not about the lives of civilians so I guess Patrick might have made a good choice with dwelling further into leadership problems, staff meetings and the occasional military party.

Ragnarok is a fitting name on this book because in a way it is much more that than I expected and the ending did surprise me a bit even if it felt very satisfying, I want to read the second book in this series soon but I have no idea when it will be out.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 25 reviews
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
BillC 13 Sept. 2010
By William - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I will start by saying Ragnarok is not a great book, but it is a good book. I have read a number of negative reviews and in most cases they are comparing this book/author with established authors such as David Weber. The Weber type authors beat us to death with the most minute details and page after page about the alternate society they have constructed. Sometimes reading their books is like reading a school history text - when we just want to be entertained. Patrick Vanner is a new author and has a ways to go, but he certainly has one thing right - the book is entertaining. It is well worth the money I spent for it. I suppose it reminds me a lot of the science fiction books I read in the 1950's, the early "Sapce Operas". In any case, I am looking forward to the continuation of this series and will cetrainly buy his next book(s).
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Fun, But Seriously Flawed 1 Oct. 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Most fiction (and any storytelling for that matter) exists on the idea of suspension of disbelief. Ragnarok unfortunately fails this test. I mean unfortunately, because I enjoyed much of the book.

The book is best when it deals at a tactical level. When it tracks events, such as the details of a battle, it flows well.

But it fails in two ways. First, the villains are cartoons or worse, sometimes sketches of cartoons. They are either filled out in ridiculous ways or they are not filled out at all. The "traitor" in the book is mentioned only in a couple of paragraphs, but the traitor acts in ways that are ultimately stupid even for her own motivations (ie, ultimately she puts herself in mortal danger -- which is not her intent). David Weber often draws his villains broadly, but not to the point where they are only two dimensional. Patrick Vanner's villains are not believable.

Second, in Science Fiction, the author can create the universe any way they want, but it has to be consistent and logical. Mr. Vanner creates the climax of the book and the basis of the next book, by creating an artificial crisis which is neither scientifically or militarily logical. He suddenly introduces nuclear weapons with no explanation about why no one has used them previously in the book. If they were available all of the military tactics in the book would be different. Vanner can create a universe in which they are available or they aren't (maybe a nuclear suppressor or shielding), but not both without explanation. Given that nuclear weapons are available, the human side's actions are not logical. You would have a completely different system defense strategy. Actually everything in the book would be different. Again Weber in his Honor Harrington books deals with this logically (various types of shielding), Vanner, not so much.

It is fun at some levels, but Vanner's editor should have cleaned this up before publication. They did him a disservice.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
There's flaws a mile wide but it's entertaining and the actions pretty good 27 Sept. 2010
By Kiwi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
OK, personally, I enjoyed this despite the wide open holes in the plot and some of the strategic unbelievability (is that a real word?). I like books by David Drake, David Weber, JohnRingo, Tom Kratman and Michael Z Williamson ("The Weapon" has to be one of my all time favorites) and Vanner's in the running to move up into that league with quite a few improvements, primarily in the Plot and the technology / tactics.

That said, it's a good start and I enjoyed reading it despite the audible groans some of the strategy and technology evoked. The traitor (and that's not a spoiler as another reviwer also commented) especially, was pretty weak. Overall tho, I like the main character, I liked the action and it moved along fast enough that I really didn't wantt to stop reading despite the flaws. Definitely I'll be picking up the next in the series - just hope some of the weaker aspects of the writing are hammered out by then.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Good first half of a book 28 Sept. 2010
By W. Harper - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I quite enjoyed this book. The story had some excellent action scenes, generally believable characters, and a good story heading in.

My problem is that it's really only the first half of a first book of a series. Its primary purpose seems to be to introduce the cast of characters, and give some motivations. This is not really enough to count it as a finished work (even in a multi-volume series, which I assume this is the start of).

If you are a fan of military science fiction, and don't mind an unknown waiting period for the rest of the story, I'd say you'll probably enjoy this book. If you want to get the whole story... wait until the next in the series is out, and then hope that it will finish the story that started here before moving to new areas.

(side note: the traitor annoyed me for reasons that you'll discover when you read the book).
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Cheap Honor Harrington wannabe 10 Dec. 2012
By dpetroc - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I haven't finished this book, because frankly, it's a slog ('bout 100 pages left to go and frankly, I don't care what happens). The protagonist is an unimaginative Honor Harrington clone and the 'plot' is flat and uninspired. The characters suffer from being terribly one-dimensional and stereotyped. It took nearly a dozen books for the Honor Harrington series to become completely predictable. This book did it one. Good show.
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