With it having been a while since the original series landed, I chose to reread the whole lot before embarking on Wander's latest epic tale and if the truth be told I'm glad that I did, not that it was hard to get into again but purely for the joy that I got from doing so. The whole series is a delight and since from book one to now the whole series spans 40 years (over four books) the author was pretty clever to aid the reader by throwing in some recollections of the character to act as handy reminders. You can read this tale on its own but why should you miss out on the fun that appears within the series. Yet again its well written, the characters good fun and the type I'd buy a beer with but the author really does play to his strengths when he makes sure that he plays for keeps.
Yet for all that there are some problems. The lulls and peaks along with the speed of the prose seems to have some problems, partly as if the authors running out of idea's and partly as he didn't quite pull this tale off, as it felt that the ending was a bit too convenient and really didn't leave me feeling quite as satisfied as the others. I do wonder how many more books there will be for this series and hope it ends before its dragged through the mud ruining the carefully built reputation gathered over the previous few.
on 17 February 2015
One of the major problems with science fiction series is that the titles aren't always terribly imaginative. At first glance, the cover of ''Orphan's Triumph'' gives away exactly how the story is going to turn out. It's great credit to Robert Buettner that what I expected wasn't what happened.
The war between humans and slugs has now been raging for more than four decades. As in any war, there have been countless deaths, strong bonds formed and even love blossoming. But for the first time, there seems to be an end to the war in sight, as the humans have designed a weapon they think can finish things. The one problem with the plan is that they don't know exactly where to use this weapon, as they've not yet located the slug home world.
However, Jason and his Intelligence colleague Howard have captured a slug ganglion, which acts as the consciousness for the slug armies. They believe that this will hold the location of the home world and let them deliver the war-ending blow. However, the slugs are smarter than they think and promptly steal an entire planet, which was to be the source of the cavorite for the weapon. The human army have found a new cavorite source, but it's not at all easy to collect it. Even if they do succeed, can this long war really be over?
I felt that ''Orphan's Alliance'', the fourth in the series, was lacking a little something that the rest of the series had. Buettner tried to add in a romantic sub-plot to make Jason Wander into a more rounded character than just a fighter. This took some of the edge and some of the pace out of the story last time around. Here, though, Buettner plays to his strengths and that of the series and it's action all the way.
Buettner writes in short, sharp chapters here, similarly to James Patterson, which keep the pages turning and makes the book pass very quickly. Even without this, it's a story that starts at a frantic pace and maintains that the whole way through, with the exception of a couple of parts. The story jumps from one part to another quicker than the ships jump between galaxies and occasionally with the same sense of mild disorientation such space travel leaves the soldiers with.
For me, the real beauty of this story was that the unexpected was always the most likely outcome. Every time things seemed to be settling down and an obvious event seemed to be looming on the horizon, something completely different happened. This allowed for and, indeed, resulted in many twists and the best was saved for the end of the book, which was the last thing I would have expected to see occur.
Even better, it's not as if the twists felt as if they were pulling things off in a different direction simply to stretch things out and build suspense. Everything that happened seemed perfectly logical and possible in the world that the story inhabits. If anything that happens in a world where humans have spent four decades fighting slugs who have mastered space travel can be logical, anyway. The whole idea may require some suspension of disbelief, but the story never stretches things any further than that, following all the rules that have been set by the series, as strange as they may be.
The characters themselves are reasonably well drawn. Although there is little emotion on show, apart from the obvious sorrow about fallen comrades and the rather gung-ho attitude that has permeated the whole series, these are well-rounded people. They all have distinct personalities and are easily differentiated, despite all being part of the same cause. Whilst the emotional quotient may be low, Buettner's writing is visual enough that it's easy to picture some of the battles and locations, even on a totally alien landscape, the likes of which we've never seen and never will.
This may not be literature as its' best, but it certainly is action thriller writing at its' best. It maintains a very high pace throughout, but adds in some delightful twists that elevate it above the standard in the genre as a whole and makes it the best of this series in particular. This is in itself a bit of a shame, as it's the last in the series and there's no more to come. But this is a series that started with a bang and has ended with a fusillade and if you've enjoyed the rest of the series, or something like Chris Bunch's ''Last Legion'' series, this is well worth a look.
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Orphan's Triumph is the fifth and final book in the author's "Jason Wander" series. Basically a tale of conflict between the human race and aliens who have attacked and devastated Earth (in the first book). The series has a running theme with Wander as the reluctant hero constantly having to make the last stand against various alien attacks. My description makes it sound typical Starship Troopers fare which does not do justice to a well written and entertaining series. The author hooks you in and delivers an exciting and thoughtful story with a variety of characters that you believe in and have been properly fleshed out. It's a good series and well worth picking up.
Having said that, this is probably the weakest of them all as the author tries to complete Wander's story and provide closure to the conflict. Wander is being retired as earth develops a 'super weapon' that will take out the aliens once and for all. Things get confused as the aliens steal a moon (yes, I wasn't sure about that one either) and Wander has to lead a revolution on a planet that is apparently modelled on WW2 Nazi Germany, concentration camps and all.... It didn't hang together as well as the previous books and the author tries to provide a thoughtful and intelligent ending that I think he has been telegraphing for most of the series.
So it was okay but not spectacular. A series worth picking up, but don't start with this one.
on 22 July 2009
It was always going to be hard to bring this series to a close successfully.
As a reader, you have to suspend disbelief in Jason's involvement in every engagement of the war. You have to overlook the padding. You have to wonder if Jason will be up for geno - (mono?) cide.
But you do all of these things because of the great narrative, the humour, the sympathetic and recognisable characters, the well described military nuts and bolts. And because you love Jason, now admit it, you do, don't you?