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31
3.5 out of 5 stars
The Ascendant Stars: Book Three of Humanity's Fire
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 2012
After finishing all of Pete F Hamiltons brilliant multiple series, I thought I have a look at some other authors.
My son suggest this series, so I gave it a go..

The positives:-

Characters seem quite good, with a reasonable mix of types (goodies and baddies) that you can identify with.
The plot is also quite good, and spans a big enough arena to fit in with what one would expect from a 'space opera' as per Peters stories.
There are enough multiple threads that wind through the individual plots to keep you interested.

The negatives:-

Michael is obviously a fantasy writer, and this REALLY gets going in this, the 3rd, book!

There are far too many weird names and descriptions used - it's almost as if he needs to use all the letters of the alphabet hundreds of times, and also seems to lean on the types of things from HitcHikers (which Douglas Adams did in order to demonstrate OTT humour and silliness) but Michael tries to use seriously. I fully expected to read about the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal and The Great Green Arkleseizure!

The excessive weirdness and things like clones of clones of clones and levels of levels of levels, for me, both overly complicated the story and got in the way of what could have been a great (rather than, at times, a frustrating) read. There was a feeling that Michael had been to a writers group and was throwing in all the suggestions the groups had mentioned to him.

Obviously each author is different, but Peter F's stories have as much complexity, characters and much more punch and 'I don't want to stop reading this' than Michaels has.

Overall, I'd say - an interesting start but if he concentrated more on KISS and less on including everything including 'the kitchen sink from the Twilight Zone' then he'd have a more punchy and readable story.

I'd give it between a 2.5 and 3 score.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2012
I was advised to read this series by a close friend. But after reading the first two books in the humanity's fire trilogy (which I loved), and with the excitement building, I was left disappointed by the finale.

Too many characters, factions, and, with so many story lines converging in book 3, I was left in a state of general confusion.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2012
The first two books set this trilogy up to go out on a high note, the stage had been set for an epic conclusion drawing together several plot lines into a great finale. Unfortunately that didn't happen, rather for the first half of the book characters were developed and new ideas and plot twists were introduced and then in the last few chapters it was almost as if the author had either a rapidly approaching deadline or was getting near his word limit. Plot lines were left hanging, like almost implied endings which didn't work to well, or wrapped up so rapidly that it felt that not much effort went into it. Main characters were killed off for no apparent reason and in passing without any description in cases.
I enjoyed the ideas presented in the book but it could have been much better
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 20 November 2011
I'm half tempted to write a negative review of this book, simply because the author seems to be engaging with his detractors here on Amazon. To do so would be a great disservive to what is an intelligent, well written and thought provoking series of books.

As much modern science fiction and space opera does, Humanity's Fire takes the form of multiple viewpoints and weaves 4 or 5 different but connected storylines into one tapestry, the book reviewed here being the summation of that. While many of the features of the series read like a tick box checklist of contemporary writing (weapons of unimaginable power, evil aliens etc.), what seperates Mr Cobley's work from those around him is the innovative way he crafts these - the indiginous Uvovo (who I can't help but thinking of looking a bit like Ewoks) use nature as their power, much like early Studio Ghibli films; similarly the concept of dead universes forming the tiers of hyperspace is refreshing.

As the author's mate Dave says in another review, the human stories here are well written and you do genuinely care about the fate of the various protagonists, something that, say, Stephen Baxter is probably guilty of overlooking - this is not a book where the ideas overshadow the characters.

Amazon are currently offering the whole trilogy for less than £20, and if you frequent charity shops in north London you can get the fisrt book pretty easily for less, so put down the cash and buy this series - you won't regret it.
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on 22 May 2013
In my humble opinion too many people are obsessed with comparisons. Yes perhsps this series has not been as good as the culture series by Iain M Banks but it is a very different beast completely. Perhaps it is not as good as Dan Simmons Hyperion Cantos but again the only comparison i can think of is that they are both Science fiction Series.
There the comparison fades into the galactic mist between the stars.
I would be as well comparing this to Harry Potter or Hermann Hesse, this would be meaningless. though i consider it better than either of the aforementioned. I found this a fitting ending to what has been a great trilogy.
I would have prefered that the Catriona character had been explored more and as someone else said there was a little too much use of sci-fi catchphrases for my liking but many authors have the same problem (and i include myself in that cadre)((The light giving bugs were mentioned on every trip into Segrana)) So yes there are things i would like to have been changed but then I read all three books and enjoyed them. More importantly as far as Mr Cobley is concerned I enjoyed them enough that i will be buying his new book when it is out and that is the best recommendation that i can give.
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on 25 December 2012
Having read the first two books in this three part saga, I was excited to pick up the third and final instalment.

Overall the story picks up well from book two and maintains the same excellent formula of adventure and action backed up by good science fiction elements. The strong character developments is also furthermore present and the book is a joy to read.

If you liked the first two books in the series then you will most likely like this one as well. The story flows nicely, with a similar pace as the first two books, which is not a bad thing.

Having completed all three books, I would say that the story as a whole is excellent and very imaginative. There's a lot of great SciFi all the way through for fans of the genre. I loved the great character focused format used throughout. My favourite characters in the end over the three books are undoubtedly Robert and Theo.

A very good read with an excellent story and a quite satisfying ending. I can only highly recommend this fantastic book.
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on 23 March 2013
I love this trilogy. It's almost equal in scale and imagination to the Iain M. Banks Culture series, and indeed received high praise from Banks himself. Excellent ideas and character development and it remained gripping all the way through the series. Not to mention very original ideas and a comprehensive and plausible plotline. One of my favourite SF series around. 5 star worthy indeed, and a must-have for any science fiction fan.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 13 April 2012
Well, book 1 was sort of enjoyable, the writing was a little stilted and the initial opening descriptions of Darien were very clunky and the Scotish angle was presumably in there to appease a "Scotish American heritage" audience or something because it was stupidly over the top. I was surprised to find he hadn't actually had them eating freeze dried space haggis and wearing tartan space suits, but pretty much everything is about them is a stereotype.

That aside, it got better and must have done for me to make it as far as buying book 2. Definitely an improvement here, the story became more complex and was ticking along fine.

Book 3... oh dear, what happened? Suddenly we've got a massive influx of new elements to the story, battering your senses at every turn where nearly every chapter seems to launch at you some major piece of largely irrelevant nonsense.

The "virtual" sections were just full of daft techno babble and I quickly zoned out on these, mashing the button on my Kindle to try to escape them.

In the end the epic showdown comes along, involving the aforementioned mixed bag of alien cultures, some of whom just seem to be introduced for this final clash and then.... well, its all over before you know it.

Overall I have very mixed feelings about the whole experience - in places its good, but not really in this volume.

I find it unlikely that I'd be tempted to read any more of the authors work, but I suppose he did get the price of three books out of me before I gave up.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 22 June 2012
I have to agree with many others that this third book is very disappointing. Chapters follow each other in an ultimately wearisome succession of cliff-hangers. In the end I found myself anticipating the appearance of the bad guys every time the good guys set off on yet another journey by space shuttle. I also had the same problem as others in having to look back time and again to remember who was who, as all the characters started to blend together. The writing also becomes very stilted, and if there were awards for sheer clunkiness, a lot of the dialogue would win gold medals. All in all a pity, since in the first book the characters, although often near caricatures, are reasonably interesting, and the setting full of promise. The books are full of interesting ideas about the nature of consciousness and reality, if only these had been given time to develop fully. Did the author want to write three books, or did the publishers see a trilogy as a money making proposition? It feels like the latter.
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on 18 November 2013
A fast moving and absorbing story with characters you really start to care about. Who will survive, who will succeed? Not a book you can easily read with long gaps between sessions as it is easy to lose track of who is doing what to who and why. More please Mr Cobley.
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