Top critical review
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Makes it up as he goes along
on 17 September 2008
I agree with most of the previous reviewers.. This book is actually an okay start. Unfortunately I am a junkie for completion so I went ahead and ordered the rest of the series which quickly becomes really dire stuff.
Starting off with the good:
A lot of people complained about the short chapters - I don't mind them. I have kids so it's harder to get time to read and the short chapters make the book easy to read over your cornflakes in the morning, etc - 5 mins here and there gets you through it.
He has constructed a nice, if simplistic universe here - all the standard ingredients: human/alien empires/colony worlds/miner race (roamers) and mysterious artifacts & aliens. In the early books, the King versus Chairman thing is an okay interplay.
Okay I know I'm reading sci-fi so things don't have to make sense but the sheer amount of impossible things that happen beggars belief and will have you gnashing your teeth at times, and character depth just isn't there.
- Scale is way off. Planets are like villages in the wild-west. The average population of a planet seems to be a few hundred "hardy" colonists. If you land on a world, anywhere, you will soon bump into the colonists that are on it.
- Central characters keep getting weird and "wonderful" powers for no good reason. In this series, if you fall into a sun you are more likely to become some kind of a ridiculous fire-creature than to die. The plot seems to rely on impossible coincidences and outlandish magic rather than clever writing.
- Each member of each species is identical to each other. For example all the roamers have the same principles and beliefs.
- We are given no idea of how the ildiran stardrive is meant to work, but it seems to be like a souped up version of a normal engine running on hydrogen that can just plain crank you around faster... accelerating and decelerating into star systems and hopping from planet to planet within a star system in minutes. No mention of relativity or how it's effects are circumvented.
- Plot holes galore everywhere really test your patience.
- Plenty of dumb filler chapters where e.g. people "dance on trees" to ignite some stupid worldforest spirit.
- traders move from planet to planet with a small cargo container of food. I live in a small sized town and thousands of trucks of food are needed to sustain it each day. The idea of interstellar vegetable deliveries in truck-sized ships is ludicrous. Plus there seem to be only about 5 traders in the whole galaxy.
- interspecies breeding is no problem whatsoever.
- Don't get me started on thism this kind of mystic force that binds the ildiran race. What a poor idea and so inconsistently implemented.
- he keeps rehashing old ground.. constantly. Most times character X is mentioned he has a paragraph explaining X's history.
- he keeps using the same descriptive terms - "Impenetrable diamond warglobe", "mysterious black kilkiss robot", etc.
- laws of physics are ignored. We have lots of things like sound in vacuums, people breathing in gas giant atmosphere, total ignorance of the scale of interplanetary and interstallar travel, magic creatures, etc.
It really felt to me as though he was making it up as he went along with little or no forward planning or structure. His goal was to fill out and sell 7 books and worse fool me as after reading the 1st book I said "ah sure I might as well order the rest" and so his tactic worked in my case. However he'd be better off writing smaller, better thought-out books as it might encourage repeat purchases - as it is I won't be buying any more Kevin Anderson books.
Life is too short to get started on this series... it's frankly a bit embarrasingly bad.
My fav sci-fi books are Iain M. Banks, Peter Hamilton, Orson Scott Wells, etc. I wanted to like it.. I really did... but it was just so bad.!