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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 8 June 2007
Of all Anne McCaffrey's books, the "Talent" ones (starting with Pegasus..) competed with the Pern Trilogy, Dragonflight et al, for my favourites, BUT her quality seems to be fluctuating wildly these days.

The Talent series is comparable to the Pern series. I re-read The White Dragon, and immediately followed that with Renegades of Pern, which was ghastly - turgid verbosity. I was never able to shake off the image of Anne sat in front of her PC writing Renegades with a big black cloud of "contractually obligated to churn out X Pern a year" depression over her head. Then she wrote "all the weyrs" and the magic was back (Skies was ok too, and I liked Todd McCaffrey's sole Pernese effort).

The same thing happened with TT&TH series. Part of the problem is with McCaffrey's proofreader, who wants firing. Leaving aside the blooper that gave us an incestuous relationship by referring to Afra Lyon as Damia's brother not husband, there was also that in The Rowan which gave Rowan parents with entirely different names and occupations barely 10 pages apart. But I did enjoy The Rowan, and Damia, though I felt she got some unfair stick - Rowan and Jeff Raven were simply too career obsessed and selfish to have children at that time and poor Damia was merely unfortunate enough to be a normal baby after they lucked out with 2 "starkids" in Jeran and Cera. (Given Our Author is a mother of 3, one wonders about this portrayal of Damia as a "problem" when she was a perfectly ordinary baby).

I also enjoyed Damia's Children and Lyon's Pride to a certain extent, though again the villain(s) was weak - Sedalla nearly kills Isthian yet gets taken out easily. Likewise when Rojer's Mrdini are murdered by the rogue General, he teleports himself into hiding in anguish, and yet not one of his powerful family of telepaths notices? Or hears his grief? Sorry, but if I were Laria/Thian/Zara and heard my brother mentally scream in anguish I'd have been on that spaceship kicking Dini posterior if I had to teleport across the known galaxy without any "gestalt" backup to do it. of course, the biggest flaw was Dano Kincaid, a relentlessly homosexual politically correct character, who suddenly does a 180 into Laria's lover. Again, I couldn't shake the image of Anne getting to the last chapter and suddenly realising she needed a Love Interest and not being bothered to rewrite the novel properly as she should.

The Tower and The Hive, which I was really looking forward to, has exactly the same problems. Its about the Talents, but, like the most recent "Pegasus" novel, it reads in some places like a High School "dumbed down" textbook on science - and it's not really a coherent narrative, more an anthology/series of vignettes as if McCaffrey had a list of "plot threads" she needed to tie up to finish the series that she just ticked off the list once she'd written a few pages for each. Afra Lyon, who had to leave Capella and his gentle sister Goswina behind because he realised their "Methody" ways were too restrictive, is in TH&TH an interfering Methody father who puts up no resistance to Jeff Raven, who in TH&TH is, bluntly, a sexist bully wanting to turn his children into breeding cattle - a complete reversal of character from the original young, handsome rebel. The Rowan, the tough, sarcastic heroine of the first two books who would never win any mother of the year prizes (remember, she insensitively farmed out her 5 children, Jeran, Cera, Damia, Larak and Ezro onto her mother-in-law Isthia Raven, who had recently lost her husband Josh, several of her 12 children and grandchildren in the first ever Hiver attack) is now a submissive, adoring matron to Jeff's dynastic-ambition obsessed boor.

All 8 of the Lyon kids, plus their cousins (Jeran, Cera and Ezro having churned out dozens of offspring to go with murdered Larak's posthumous son), are slavishly happy to kowtow to Jeff Raven's baby conveyor belt plan to totally dominate Talents forever (and what happened to the powerful Reidinger family?).

The siblings also appear to have none of the normal sibling love for each other or simple pleasure in being with each other - Thian is particularly cold and humourless as the first Naval Prime. The chief villain fades away and then turns white hat, Dano Kincaid gives Laria an insipid, "I'll love you as much as my sexuality allows", at which point any female with the slightest hint of spine would have given him the heave, preferably helped by a sharp-toed stilletto shoe to the ass's ass.

To be honest, given the character reversals and changes, I have to wonder whether this novel was written by Anne McCaffrey at all or whether it was knocked up to meet a contractual obligation by her son Todd who contented himself with getting the "cliff notes" from mum and winged it from there.

Given all the cash Ms McCaffrey had made from her writing, if she really can't find that spark that gave us the gems that are The Rowan and The White Dragon, then I would suggest it be better if she retired. Either that or write Number 6 in the Talent series, in which: Laria gets a backbone and dumps Dano when she meets (a possibly alien?) real male with some testosterone, Rojer teaches his brother Thian and his family about showing affection and care for your siblings (possibly by attempting suicide when nobody realises he's depressed?) Rowan gets her personality back, Jeff Raven apologises for turning sexist, and one of the Raven kids decides against becoming a baby making machine. Since I'm a writer whose hobby is fan-fiction writing, I may have to fix all the above mistakes myself, but why should I have to? I suggest Ms McCaffrey puts her imagination and her writing on a strict diet of David Eddings and Lois McMaster Bujold, with an exercise regime of Christine Feehan and Suzanne Brockmann and Chris Stasheff before she writes her next book, because quite frankly at the moment her imagination is obviously a McFood munching couch potato grown flabby and out of condition from long-term commercial success which means it hasn't had to make an effort.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
When I was reading "The Tower and the Hive" I did not know it was intended to be the last volume in Anne McCaffrey's Talent series. Ideally I like to read a book without looking at what is on the dust jacket or hearing too much publicity; this is not always possible, granted, but I had picked up McCaffrey's book because it was part of the series and finally got around to reading it without hearing this was the end. Ironically, my primary feeling while reading "The Tower and the Hive" was not that McCaffrey was wrapping things up, but rather that she was setting something up for down the road. My mistake.
The Humans and their Mrdini allies are still trying to find a way to deal with the Hiver menace. At the center of this effort are the Talented members of Federation Teleport and Telepath, especially those belonging to the Gwyn-Raven dynasty founded by the Rowan (of whom there is far too little). McCaffrey provides an introduction, "What Has Gone On Before," that will serve as an involved reminder for those who have been following the series but which will undoubtedly confuse newcomers who stumble on the book by accident, not knowing it is part of a series. I resisted the idea that "The Tower and the Hive" was about solving the Hiver problem, although the title is certainly a big clue in that direction. In retrospect, this book is essentially a collection of sub-plots involving "Lyon's Pride" the children of Afra Lyon and Damia, the Rowan's daughter: Laria finds love, Zara deals with the problem of Mrdini reproduction, and Thian is out with the fleet investigating strange Hiver worlds. At one point I thought the character of Vagrian Beliakin was going to shake-up things big time, but that proved not to be the case, and I am wondering if there is some subtle message to someone with the pivotal role played by Pierre Laney's unique talent in the novel's climax.
Ultimately, I think the value of "The Tower and the Hive" is not as a culmination to the Talent Saga, but how the book stands in contrast to other noted science fiction sagas dealing with bug aliens, specifically Robert Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" and Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game." Whether this is intentional or not on the part of the author, the comparisons seem both inevitable and fruitful. McCaffrey has always showed a talent for creative problem solving, which is one of the key elements at the heart of both the Talent and Pern series, so I would not dismiss her biological solution to interstellar warfare as mere pacifism. We should be mindful of the author's intended message when we notice that this series ends not with a big bang, but with a gentle fall of rain.
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on 18 August 1999
I am an avid fan of Anne McCaffrey, especially the previous books in this series. However, with this book there seemed to be something missing.... There were ample opportunities for plot twists and expansions that did not happen, while many plot lines were rushed to conclusion or just fizzled out. I could not believe that Vagrian Beliakin turned into a good guy after all that seemed to be promised on the books cover, almost as if it was forgotten about until the book was nearing conclusion. Also the Clarissa Negeva plot to assassinate Earth Prime just came to a head too quickly with no chance for any sort of a build up to tantalise the audience. The tension promised on the dust jacket seemed to be side-stepped, and am I the only one who found Laria and Kinkaid's romance just a little too unbelievable? Although this book was enjoyable, it was slightly disappointing. Of the previous 4 books, The Rowan and Damia were by far the best. (Why did nobody ever wonder where Sodan came from??) Although I still enjoy Anne McCafrreys books, many of her recent books seem to lack the weight of her earlier ones, and I agree with.. comments.. that this book is not the end as there are too many loose ends and things did not seem to be resolved.
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on 10 February 2001
Hmm, not my favorite, but a worthwhile read to tidy up the series. I did prefer the earlier novels, and certainly the beginning of 'Rowan' is a world away from this final installment. Sure, loose-ends were tied up, but I was annoyed that the tension, and rebellion of the likes of the prejudiced Talents didn't go further. The romance of Kincaid and Laria was unexpected, and so not exactly believable. For me, the romance in almost any McCaffery book goes back to the age-old idea that a pair who hate each other at the start are sure to be together by the end. Bits of it seemed also to be montonus, almost boring, especially the continuing mention of rebellion or mis-trust of those at the height of FT&T's heirarchy, and yet nothing was actually effectivly done about it. That could be a lie, as I was stunned by the assasination attempts on Jeff Raven and the Rowan, particularly when Thain or Rojer gave a demonstration of what would happen if anyone tried anything with the Earth Prime. Huh, I also am unsure what makes them think the Hivers are gone for good.
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on 29 September 1999
I 'found' the Talent books some years ago whilst avoiding the Dragon series (claimed by friends to be unmissable)and have read each one avidly when they appeared. At the end of Lyon's Pride I felt there was so much more to be said about this remarkable family and was extremely happy to find The Tower & The Hive. I was unable to put it down waiting for the answers to my questions, and many were forthcoming, but so many more were raised ... In short a highly enjoyable book for one in a wonderful series, but not one I would wish for the end to these interesting and compelling characters who have made me laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time.
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on 25 April 2000
If you enjoied the previous books in this series you will enjoy this one. Its heartwarming and light read which completes this epic series of a three generation family which started with The Rowan. There are a few surprises in the story such as an attempt in the assassination of the hierarchy of FT&T and Laria's relationship with Kincaid. All Anne McCaffrey lovers will like this book. Although as much as I hate to see such a series end, I have spent many hours of joy with such strong and memorable characters. I look forward to reading more of Miss McCaffrey's books for years to come.
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on 11 January 2001
I have been reading Ms McCaffrey's books for ages now and own copies of several which I re-read occasionally and enjoy as much each time.
The Tower and The Hive though left me totally disappointed. What a shame. I found it lightweight and contrived, with too many threads lightly touched upon but no substance to any of them. For the first time EVER, I was bored by an Anne McCaffrey book!
Please can we go back to the super days of Dragonquest et al?
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on 29 November 1999
I've been a fan of Ann McCaffrey for the last ten years. The Rowan series of books was never my favourite but this final one really impressed me. So many loose ends were tied up and the far-ranging story gave me the impression of immense distances in space. Reading it has made me want to re-read the other books in the series. Just promise me one thing Anne McCaffrey, don't stop writing.
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on 15 December 2014
The Rowan and Damia are fairly decent books at the start of this series. Not as good as past greats like the better Pern books but worth reading.

But the series just seemed to get worse as it went on and this book was extremely dull with numerous sketchy plots and little of interest about any of them.
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on 5 January 2015
McCaffreys Talent series is her best science fiction series, but felt this final novel was not the carefully crafted tale, it should have been, rushed and poorly ended without the authors usual trademark care & attention.
This book didn't do justice to the previous chronicles sadly.
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