Most Helpful First | Newest First
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heroes No 6. Finishes the storylines from "Heroes Return",
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Heroes at Odds (Mass Market Paperback)This is the sixth novel in the "Heroes" SF/Fantasy crossover series set on a future colony world where conventional technology does not work and the population rely on the special talents of people called "Sources" and "Shields" to protect them from natural disasters. This series should ideally be read in the right order, which is
1) Resenting the Hero
2) The Hero Strikes Back
3) Heroes Adrift
4) Heroes at Risk
5) "Heroes Return" (Link: Heroes Return (Heroes Novels (Ace Books)))
6) This book, "Heroes at Odds."
The first three books in the series were more-or-less self contained, the fourth book, "Heroes at Risk," started a new continuing story which was carried forward in "Heroes Return" and in this book. Indeed, books five and six, which tell the story of how the central characters are posted to an area called Flown Raven where our eponymous hero Shintaro Karish grew up, are almost one novel in two volumes.
SPOILER ALERT: I've tried not to give away any significant spoilers for this book in this review, but if you have not yet read the previous books in the series, be warned that almost any description of the setting of "Heroes at Odds" is going to give away the endings of some of the earlier volumes.
If you have found yourself here without first reading the previous books in the "Heroes" Universe, your best bet may be to follow the link above to the first book in the series which you have not yet read.
All these novels are set on a far future human colony world. When colonists from Earth arrived on the planet some seven or eight hundred years before, most of their machines mysteriously failed to work, and the majority of the would-be settlers left. As the characters in these books are descended from those who didn't, accepting a low tech life on a beautiful but challenging world, it is perhaps unsurprising that they tend to be more than a little stubborn!
If you love Anne McCaffrey's "Dragons of Pern" series there is an excellent chance that you will also enjoy the "Heroes" saga as there are many parallels. Both stories are set on a low tech colony world which has lost contact with the rest of human space and where dangerous threats are met by people with special abilities. Both involve psychic bonds which last for life.
Except that where McCaffrey's human characters have a special, life-long telepathic bond with their flying dragons, the main human characters in the "Heroes" series have a life-long psychic bond with each other.
In the hemisphere which contains most of the habitable land and population of the planet, there are frequent natural disasters, and the population can only be protected from these by the special talents of two groups of people - "Sources" and "Shields".
Sources can "channel" natural forces and dispel coming disasters: Shields protect the Sources and stop them dying or going insane while they do so. Both groups are taken from their families at an early age by the "Triple S" organisation which supports them (it stands for "Source and Shield Service"), and intensively trained to use their special talents.
In theory any source can work with any shield, but most sources involuntarily form a spontaneous natural bond with one particular shield. The resulting partnership is known as a "Pair." Neither partner has any choice about who they bond with, and once the link comes into being it lasts for the rest of the life of both partners. The bond is so strong that the death of either source or shield within a "pair" causes the demise of the other.
Most pairs form a friendly and professional relationship, a large minority become lovers, although this is against the advice of their training college, while others are unfortunate enough to be tied for life to someone they can't stand.
Shintaro Karish (Taro), who has renounced noble titles but was born the second son of a previous Duke of Westsea, is a Source. He is heroic, brave, virile, talented, charming, exciting, and disgustingly handsome.
So in almost every respect, Shintaro Karish appears far too good to be true. Almost every unpaired shield, especially the female ones, had hoped to bond with him, except for Lee, the narrator of all the books, who is a practical merchant's daughter. She wanted to work with someone calm, steady, and reliable. So guess who she got stuck with.
Taro has the reputation of a promiscuous rake (he has the nickname "The Stallion of the triple S"). However, it has been obvious to the reader for several books, that whether or not there was ever any truth in this reputation, Taro hasn't been sleeping around since his first appearance in the first book. During the first four books Lee took an exorbitant amount of time to realise that Taro loves her and has no romantic interest in anyone else, but it isn't really a spoiler to say that by the start of "Heroes at Odds" that particular penny has finally dropped.
A large part of the first book followed Lee's horrified response to being yoked for life to someone she initially percieved as a brilliant but pampered and arrogant aristocrat. But by the start of the second book Lee and Taro had established a strong working relationship and become close friends. By the end of "The Hero Strikes Back" it was obvious to the reader and most characters other than Lee herself that she and Shintaro are deeply in love with each other.
Lee and Shintaro established themselves as one of the "pairs" assigned to protect the people of the city of High Scape from natural disasters - an important post because this city had more than its share of such incidents. They had their hands full dealing both with genuine natural disasters and also with a series of sinister plots.
Unfortunately Lee and Shintaro were too conspicuously successful in dealing with those plots and came to the notice of Constia, then the planet's Empress. Empress Constia sent them to the other side of the world on a special mission lasting a year. One of the problems Lee and Taro face in books five and six is that both the Triple S leadership, and their own families, are asking questions about that mission which they are not at liberty to answer. Empress Constia swore them to secrecy and even if that oath had meant nothing to them, breaking it would threaten the life of an innocent child.
When they returned to High Scape at the beginning of book four, Lee and Taro found that many things had changed in their absence. Earthquakes, storms, and similar disasters were becoming rarer, but there was an epidemic of a nasty disease in the waterfront areas of the city which may, or may not, have had something to do with popular belief in and attempts to practice a disgusting form of magic.
The special talents of Sources and Shields are not regarded as magic: at the start of book four, Lee thought the very idea of magic to be a ridiculous superstition. But a lot of people clearly do believe in it, both in High Scape and in the Dukedom of Westsea where the fifth and sixth books are set. The planet has a new Emperor who claims to believe that magic does not exist and has passed draconian measures to stop other people practicing it. Lee is concerned about these new laws.
From the events of "Heroes at Risk" and "Heroes Return" our heroes have good reason to doubt the new Emperor's sincerity in passing the new anti-magic laws. They also know that while some people have committed great evil because of their belief in magic, others have been using less disgusting forms of magic successfully for good, such as healing the sick. Lee is worried that the Emperor's laws may penalise virtuous magic users as well as the wicked.
At the start of book five when Lee and Taro arrived in Flown Raven, centre of the Duchy of Westsea where he grew up, Lee was introduced to a host of new characters, meeting some new friends, and some new people who are less friendly. Unfortunately they also come back into contact with Taro's ghastly mother, the Dowager Duchess. Their host is Fiona, Taro's cousin, who he nominated to replace his brother as Duke of Westsea when he renounced the title.
Fiona appears to be just about the only member of his family whom Taro could have nominated for the Dukedom and who would have made a remotely reasonable ruler for the province, but she is having a difficult time. Particularly from other members of the family and a neighbouring magnate, all of whom think they are more qualified to run Westsea. These characters are trying to make life as difficult as possible for Fiona.
As if this didn't create enough difficulties, at the start of this book, Lee's mother and brothers appear in Flown Raven to warn her that she is about to have a problem with another merchant house with whom the Mallory family made a bargain when she was a child. The terms of the bargain included betrothing Lee to marry a member of that family when she came of age. This betrothal was automatically cancelled when Lee became a Shield, but her prospective in-laws are refusing to accept this, and when an archaic law of challenge is involved, Taro finds himself taking part in a contest to win Lee's hand in marriage ...
The "Hero" series keeps going in slightly different directions, and some people who enjoyed the first few books have been disappointed by the later ones. Books four to six are darker in tone and less humorous than the first three volumes in the series.
However, I peronally enjoyed this book and indeed found it to be an improvement on volume five: having started with a rather whimsical and largely humorous style the author now appears to have mastered an appropriate style for the darker material in the later part of the series. Not everyone will enjoy the series or this book, but many readers of light SF and fantasy will find them both charming and amusing. Personally I enjoyed all six books in the series to date and recommend them.
5.0 out of 5 stars In love with this quirky series!,
This review is from: Heroes at Odds (Mass Market Paperback)I read Moore's first book - Resenting the Hero - some time last year, and I instantly fell in love with the Heroes concept and universe. It's fun, it's exciting, it's just the thing for when you really need something uplifting and relaxing to read. I recommend reading the books in chronological order, or it might get a bit confusing, so start with Resenting the Hero! And do start with it right away, because it's gloriously lovely. In my humble opinion.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Heroes at Odds by Moira J. Moore (Mass Market Paperback - 26 July 2011)
In stock but may require up to 2 additional days to deliver