Tag Archives: space opera

Review of Primal Trilogy, by Ryan Kirk

I received a free Audible code for a copy of Ryan Kirk‘s Primal Trilogy.

Description from Goodreads:

Tev is a hunter, raised from birth to protect and feed his clan. Among his people, his skills are unmatched. With a spear and knife in hand he has never failed. He longs to explore the world beyond the boundaries of his hunting grounds, not knowing the cost that wish will have. 

His life, and the lives of every member of his clan, are shattered when fire descends from the sky, bringing with it dangers far beyond any that existed before. Tev’s hard-won skills are all that separates his clan from complete annihilation. 

The Primal Trilogy collects the first three short novels in the Primal universe, as well as the short story “Rebellion,” set years before the events of the trilogy. The Primal Trilogy details first contact between two technologically different societies, then follows the consequences of that encounter for generations.

Reviews:

Primal Dawn:

I liked the characters here a lot and the world-building of a human race in alone space, but still a little uncertain. However, I wasn’t all together comfortable with how heavily the plot depends of the comparison of the noble savage and the distanced modernity. Further, I didn’t at all understand the mindset, that is integral to the plot, that when one of their own soldiers goes rogue the only available option was to put a primitive man (who hasn’t even seen metal before) into a futuristic exo-suit and send him out to hunt. This over even a discussion of leaving the ship themselves. This over broadcasting a message that Derrick was alive to calm the soldier down. This over any possible artillery on the drop ship itself. I won’t even get into the deus ex mechina that allowed the primitive man to be the better warrior in unfamiliar technology, since that appears to actually be a plot point in book two. But the central plot point is one that left me totally baffled. 

I did think the book conflated warrior and hunter. Tev is supposed to be this great warrior. But his people all seemed fairly communal and peaceful. There was never any mention of warring between the clans. What was described was Tev being a great hunter (of animals). I don’t actually know that all of those two skillsets would transfer seamlessly enough to be interchangeable. 

Lastly, while I liked the writing, characters, story, etc there is a lot more page space dedicated to hunting/fighting than actual plot progression. In terms of actual events, not a lot happens. Instead a lot of time is dedicated to what Tev is thinking in a fight or considering his next move or observations. I’m not disappointed to be continuing the series though and am curious what will happen.

Primal Darkness:

Not bad, but eventually I just got tired of listening to fight scenes. It’s not that they’re bad, just redundant. I feel like 75% of this book is descriptions of fights, or battles, or martial moves, etc. It started to just feel like warrior worship…or Tev worship, as he’s apparently better at everything than everyone around him. 

There is a bit of a plot, with the ship returning to Tev’s home-world and the question of protecting it from the bad guys (that might not be as bad as thought). But it’s buried so deep as to feel secondary to ‘all hail the amazing Tev and the virtuous Kindra.’ Honestly, the drive to simply do the right thing seems overly simple (as does the solution), when speaking in terms of intergalactic interests. 

Still, though my interest is waning, it’s not dead yet. I’m moving on to book three.

Primal Destiny:

As with the previous books the writing was fine. However, as the conclusion to the series, I found it less than satisfying. Too many questions are left unanswered. Most aren’t even addressed. I could probably list a dozen here, from ‘Where did the rebellion get all that technology—who funded them’ to ‘Where did Needra go’—she was a prime warrior and just disappears as a character. (I listened to the audio. So, I’m not positive I spelled that name correctly.)

By the end, I also started to feel it was a book of men doing men things. Kirk was good about mentioning both men and women were hunters and warriors. But as the series progressed (and especially here in the last book), the story became more fight-scene heavy and women faded into the background (or disappeared entirely for large chunks of time) and became secondary characters. I mention this because the books synopses infer that Tev and Kindra are the main characters. But after reading this, I’d say they are Tev and Derrick. Kindra is too rarely involved in the action and decision making and frankly just isn’t given as much page space. I would personally call her first of the secondary or supporting characters. And I feel like Kirk (maybe as a male writer) did this by accident.

All in all, this wasn’t a bad book at all. But I have to admit to being happy to be finished with it. Tev is a lovely characters, but I didn’t much enjoy the author’s didactic condemnation of modernity. But again, not bad.

Review of Virtues of the Vicious, by Martin Wilsey

Cover of Virtues of the Vicious

I received an Audible code for a copy of Virtues of the Vicious, by Martin Wilsey.

Description from Goodreads:

Elizabeth Cruze came to Earth for one reason: to buy weapons. She never counted on ending up in prison. Never fear, though, she’s not planning on staying there long. 

Special Investigator Neal Locke has made a career out of catching the most elusive and dangerous criminals. He’s never failed to “get his man.” 

When Cruze escapes from prison, Locke is tasked to track her down. She should be easy to find…all he’s got to do is follow the trail of bodies. 

But Locke has been an investigator for a long time. It doesn’t take him long to figure out that there’s more going on than what he’s been told… 

Review:

Much in the style of Leviathan WakesVirtues of the Viciousfollows someone going about their galactic adventure and an older, somewhat jaded investigator tracking behind them, slowly learning that there is more to his investigation than meets the eye. 

I generally enjoyed the story. I liked the characters and Wilsey’s writing style. I liked that the main characters were older and there was some diversity in the cast. However, I also three separate times tried to check Goodreads, Amazon or Google to ensure this wasn’t the second book in a series. It completely feels like it must be. Characters are mentioned that aren’t introduced until much later, the political system of the universe is left for the reader to figure out, and there is simply a distance felt that I imagined was caused by a lack of previous books. From what I could discern, this is set in the same universe as Wilsey’s other books, but not connected. 

There were a number of too convenient to be believed events that solved problems for the crew, Cruze seemed to find that crew willing to go to war with her without even trying (that could actually just be part of the previous point), and the villain was dispatched a little too easily. It was anti-climactic. 

I also thought the pacing was inconsistent and dialogue needlessly formal at times. The farther into the book I got the fewer contractions I noticed, for example. I think Shore’s narration exacerbated this though. While I think she did a good job, some of the sentences that I felt needed contractions and didn’t have them felt even more stiff in her mouth. 

All in all however, despite these complaints, I’ll be looking for more of Wilsey’s writing. I liked what I saw.

Review of Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1), by James S.A. Corey

I borrowed a copy of James Corey‘s Leviathan Wakes from my local library.

Book Description:
Humanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for – and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to the Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations – and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

Review:
This was so good, you guys! I mean really good. I found the writing snappy, the humor on point, the banter witty, the diversity appreciable (even if the only significant female characters were the love interest and girl in need of rescue), and the moral quandary interesting. I liked the way the Belters’ and Inners’ cultures were notably different in ways that caused conflict; two men could do the right thing and it would be different things in the same situation.

There were a few leaps of logic that were maybe a bit too drastic to believe and the characters seemed to solve complex problems with relative ease. But all in all, I basically fell in love with them and can’t wait to get my hands on more of the series.