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3.2 out of 5 stars60
3.2 out of 5 stars
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on 11 October 2011
This is my first Michael Cobley novel as I'm sure it's the first of many who choose to begin this trilogy of Humanity's Fire. Like other trilogies (Cosmonaut Keep (The Engines of Light, Book 1) to name one) or quadrilogies (Lords of the Middle Dark (Rings of the Master, Book 1) to name another) I've completed, Seeds of Earth has the same problem of getting the plot off the launchpad when weighed down with a load of new characters, a shipment of proper nouns and crates full of exotic aliens, planets, flora, fauna, honorific titles... I could go on. It's one of those books which is difficult to find a toehold. It's also one of those books which lends itself to be read in one week in order for the reader to fully understand the setting Cobley has just placed.

The 9-page prologue of Seeds of Earth takes place on Mars when the Solar System is under attack by the Achorga Swarm. Plans have been made to launch fifteen arks to save humanity in case the Swarm prevails. The Swarm has been virulently persistent to only allow humanity to construct and launch three arks. Chapter One opens 150-years after the ark Hyperion has made landfall on the planet Darien. The mix of Scots, Scandinavians and Russians settle the hospitable planet and befriend a race of intelligent bipeds who inhabit the breathable atmosphere of moon.

Living in ignorance about the fate of the earth and the two other arks, the tiny outpost somewhat flourishes. Politics plays a big role in Book One, but not to the extent of what MacLeod includes in his novels (but you can bet they both emphasis the Scottish accent!). I'm not sure why a small outpost needs eight-story building with elevators. I ask the question: Did they strip the ark of the elevator of did they manufacture it? And if they stripped the ark, why did they put the elevator in something as unimportant as an apartment building? Much of the description of the infrastructure of the colony seems unrealistic for only be in operation for 150 years. The citizens also travel by dirigible. I'm getting sick of dirigibles.

Lemme see... only two of the cast have idiosyncrasies enough to be sympathetic with:
There's Kao Chih who's on a long, long journey from his domain (no plot spoiler here) and keeps running into difficulties including a menacing human, menacing pirates and menacing droids. Seems like deep space is a scary place to traverse... honest enough Kao Chih just keeps going in honor of his ancestors. However, one niggling detail remained: when the craft left its main port, it had six days of food for the two crew members. Later, it's quoted as having enough food for three months and nine days at quarter rations for one person. I can't massage those numbers!
Then there's Earthspace ambassador who carries around a virtual simulation of his dead daughter and plays chess with her, even when there's company around. Sounds kind of a disappointment to the government of Earth.

The writing style isn't as grandiose as Banks or as techy as Hamilton... it lays somewhere in between, but I much prefer the lengthy prose of Banks above all others. That said, Seeds of Earth doesn't have loquacious paragraphs like much of modern British Space Opera uses. The vocabulary isn't as challenging as Revelation Space or The Algebraist, but still maintains a certain sophistication. One more niggling point was the 3-time use of the word "concertaed" when describing the operation of a door (which fondly reminds me of Delanay's "the door dilated").

It's definitely NOT bad. It's just unfortunate the the trilogy has to start somewhere! Judging from the conclusion of Book One, I predict that books two and three will be at least 4-star reads. I've already bought Book Two and I've pre-ordered Book Three. How's that for eager!
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on 30 January 2010
I feel compelled to write a review for this book; I'm nearing the end and I've thoroughly enjoyed it.

I've noticed a couple of fairly negative comments including one referred to Kevin J Anderson as a negative which stumps me - Kevin J Anderson is a fantastic author. Seeds of Earth is a "space opera" novel; this means it is more akin with an action adventure story such as star wars than something nitty gritty from the likes of say Stephen Baxter. If you want realism in space then this is the wrong novel, so don't buy it and don't leave a negative review.

If, like me, you love strange alien species, complicated yet easy to understand twisting plot lines and of course fantastic battles both on land and in space then this book is quite simply perfect for you. This book is very much akin to Kevin J Anderson's "Saga of the Seven Suns" but with a more Steampunk/Star Trek'ian feel to it. There is a great emphasis on politices, but not so much to bore you. Cobley has created a rich and inviting universe which has a hell of a lot of history and a near infinate amount of resources for future storylines.

The writing itself is easy to read, quick and very entertaining. I particularly enjoyed the colloquial use of the Scottish dialect. The hero's are typical and easy to love, the aliens are weird and numerous, the enemy is sufficiently evil and overpowering and the good guys are as all emcompassing and virtuous as you could hope for. It is also topical in some respects.

All in all this is a perfect example of a space opera.
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on 4 March 2014
I really tried to like read it and to like it based on the Ian Banks recommendation.
But it's not a book that holds my interest. At the same point, when they are somehwfe in the uber-forest, I think, why am I reading this, because I' mot getting anything out of it.
I'm a liitle surprised this made it into print, and was so hyped.
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on 20 May 2013
Well I read it from cover to cover -- just -- I was hoping that it would get better but it did not!!
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on 27 May 2016
I found the first novel quite an interesting concept and read it twice, for example to try and understand why the colony ships lacked e.g. Latin and African crew (but I never found out). I picked up the second two volumes and read number two twice again just to try to remember the variety of threads. Volume three largely escaped me in that I read it through, then read each thread again and still many incidents go unexplained (why leave out Chels end?) so the plot resembles cumbersome spaghetti sprinkled with holes in the narrative. I found the concept of a Strativerse quite interesting but wonder why 1-2 species inhabit a universe, where is the diversity? While realizing one cannot deal with billions of species it still seemed superficial to me. In conclusion (a) pick it up cheap in the charity shop and (b) do not try and start anywhere but page 1 of the first book.
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on 6 December 2015
Probably the worst book I have ever read.

The heroes, who all just happen to be Scottish, talk in childish slang like Oor Wullie. The book itself is so boring, I gave up after 100 pages and threw it in the bin.

An utter waste of 9 quid!!
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on 27 May 2016
Despite really wanting to I just could not get into this.

The setting is epic and there is as lot happening but sadly, for me, the writing style leaves a lot to be desired. I couldn't connect or identify with any of the characters. A lot of the backstory is being attempted to be told through the dialogue, but unfortunately this is not pulled off in any way. The dialogue is very stilted, extremely awkward and unnatural and pulls you out of the immersion you're trying to build around the reading experience.

I forced myself to finish it but I was very close to giving up a few times throughout. This was my first foray into any works of this author but unfortunately I won't be coming back - not to the rest of this series nor his other work.
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on 28 November 2015
...easy then to stop reading this mish-mash of genres boring hotchpotch of wannabee SF/Fantasy/mystic garbage and chuck it and the sequels (also used copies) to a charity shop.

May I be forgiven for foisting them onto another.
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on 12 April 2014
This was my first Michael Cobley novel and I have mixed thoughts about it. The premise of the novel is very good. The balance between what I’ll call the local politics of the planet on which the story is set and the wider galactic manoeuvrings converging on that planet is very successfully achieved by Mr Cobley. However, his style of writing left me frustrated. Each chapter in the book is centred around a character but I found the continuity between each related chapter to be jumpy at best with gaps between where one chapter left off and another started.

This is a four-book series, so far at least. I’m not feeling any great compulsion to purchase the next one – not yet, anyhow.
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VINE VOICEon 6 April 2009
I'm not sure where the other reviewer is coming from when stating that space opera should be 'slow burn'. What I really like about this novel is that it is reminiscent of 'golden age' novels and is also considerably shorter and more interesting than say Peter Hamilton's novels (now those are slow burn/padded and so disappointing in execution) or Stephen Baxter (incapable of building any tension or suspense). Mutiple characters rather than a single 'hero' gives Seeds of Earth a more realistic feel although characterisation could be stronger (hence 4 not 5 stars). But if you like a good old fashioned story-telling then this does deliver. No cyber punk is always a plus for me.
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