Conventions of War (Dread Empires Fall #3) ★★☆☆½

conventionsofwar (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Conventions of War
Series: Dread Empires Fall #3
Author: Walter Jon Williams
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 688
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

Caroline Sula survives the destruction of the secret government and the Naxid takeover. She begins the counter-insurgency which leads to her becoming planetary governor of the former Capital World of the Praxis Empire. She leverages that to get a promotion and to get her own spaceship command. She uses the new tactics and does well in battle. She still has feelings for Gareth but in the end loses out to Gareth’s new wife, who has given birth to his son. She decides that the military life is the life for her.

Gareth Martinez does “fights in space” and wins and stuff. The Naxid’s end up unconditionally surrendering. Gareth doesn’t so much choose his wife and son over Sula as much as he is ambushed by the family and given no choice. Really pulls at the heart strings /sarcasm.

The Empire is at peace but everybody knows that it is only a matter of time before another war breaks out as each species tries to figure out where it stands now.

 

My Thoughts:

This book was almost 700 pages and it shouldn’t have been a jot over 300. It was simply too long without enough real story to fill it up. I found myself skipping whole pages of descriptions of almost everything and I didn’t miss one part of the essential plot. So much of the writing just felt unneccessary and almost filler-like.

The fighting, whether with Sula planet side or Gareth in space, was good stuff. However, there was zero tension and you knew they were going to win in one way or another. When you read about their second battle and you’re only on page 300, you KNOW they win. Instead of the Batman roller coaster from Six Flags (where you go upside down multiple times and do all sorts of twisty turny, stomach churning twists), this was much more akin to the Pirates of the Caribbean kiddie ride at Disneyworld. Slow and sedate and enjoyable. But not thrilling by any stretch of the imagination.

There is a whole murder mystery sub-plot that occupies most of Gareth’s time and once again, it felt like padding. You have a whole Space Empire in turmoil and we get a murder mystery? It made the Naxids seems like caricature bad guys since Gareth was able to spend so much focusing on a mystery rather than fighting against them. Once again, it totally destroyed the tension.

The whole Gareth/Sula thing. That really bugged me. I mean, really bugged me. Gareth made his vows to Terza, his new wife and she is now pregnant. Tricked or not, Gareth said the vows and made the decision. Then when Sula decides to pursue him and it appears that he might divorce his wife to be with her and the whole Family ambush right at the end of the book where he decides to stay, it felt like I had eaten one of Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler’s Mystery Sausages (Discworld reference there btw).

Each book in this trilogy dropped a half star for me. I think the quality and style of the writing was exactly the same for the whole thing whereas I was expecting improvement. So it’s not that each book gets worse, it’s that each book doesn’t improve in any way or live up to the premise held forth in the first book.

The cover is the best part of the book and that is a damning indictment no matter how you look at it. * very sad face *

★★☆☆½

bookstooge

 

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The Sundering (Dread Empires Fall #2) ★★★☆☆

sundering (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Sundering
Series: Dread Empires Fall #2
Author: Walter Jon Williams
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 454
Format: Digital edition

 

Synopsis:

Plucky young hero, Gareth Martinez, wins battles against the horrible Naxids using unthought of tactics using “mathz”. His terrible older brother schemes to make lots of money and gain power.

Plucky young heroine, Caroline Sula, who is really a street rat, wants to marry Gareth. Gareth wants to marry her. But the damnable Gene Checking Office kills her dreams like a fly. In fear and distress, Sula spurns Gareth only to have Gareth’s older brother (the power hungry one, in case you missed it) arrange a marriage for Gareth with a beautiful woman from a powerful, but poor, Clan house. Sula, with broken heart, joins the French Foriegn Legion, to forget her troubles. Well, she actually joins the newly birthed anti-Naxid force, to oppose them when they take over the capital world.

The Drama. The Pathos. Find out what happens to them both in our next episode of General Dread Empire Hospital!

 

My Thoughts:

Pure Space (Soap) Opera.

I’ve read enough Jack Campbell Lost Fleet books to know that new tactics against stodgy old tactics almost always means insta-victory. There is nothing wrong with that as long as that is all you want. Because that is all you’re going to get with this book. Gareth is not a genius, he’s just trying out new things against people who aren’t used to new things. In 5 to 10 years everybody will be trying out new things and seeing what works and writing new military engagement doctrines.

Sula brought this book down for me. Her knee-jerk reaction to Gareth’s proposal and revelation that they’d have to have a gene check wasn’t enjoyable to read about. The parts of the story where she’s fighting the Naxid as they take control of the capital planet was much better and I wish there had been a lot more focus on that.

Overall, this was pretty decent. Nothing great, nothing inspired but also nothing terrible. If you’re craving Space Opera, I’d recommend this to scratch that itch.

★★★☆☆

bookstooge

 

The Praxis (Dread Empires Fall #1) ★★★☆ ½

praxis (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Praxis
Series: Dread Empires Fall #1
Author: Walter Jon Williams
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 454
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The Shaa rule the known universe under the precepts of The Praxis, a series of laws that are constant and reduce the amount of chaos in the empire. All races bow to the Shaa and have for thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of years.

But the Shaa have died out and only one remains. This is the story of the Empire once that Shaa dies.

We follow a young Navy puke, Gareth Martinez, as he goes through the tumultuous time. Single handedly preventing another species, the Praxids, from taking the Shaa’s place, Martinez rises to captain of his own ship and becomes a hero.

We also follow Caroline Sula, last member of the disgraced Sula household. In the navy, trying to rebuild her fortunes, Sula is a pilot with a huge secret. She’s not actually Caroline Sula.

 

My Thoughts:

This was a decent read. The only other books I’ve read by Williams have been in the Star Wars universe and ONE book back in ’09. So he’s practically a new-to-me author.

So this is Space Opera, in the finest tradition. Huge Empires. Factions spanning galaxies. Armies beginning the titanic struggle for supremacy of said Huge Empire.

But what is Space Opera without some leading characters with great voices? So we get Gareth and Caroline. Decent enough, but honestly, if I carry the Opera comparison over, they don’t have the projecting, hall filling voice that a main character needs. They’re not bland amateur voices but they aren’t the mature voices of huge fat people belting out an aria at the top of their lungs. I’m hoping our two main characters chub up a bit by the end of this trilogy * wink *

Having read enough Science Fiction, I knew what was coming as soon as it was revealed that the last of the Shaa was dying. So the overall plot is no surprise, but I have to admit I was hoping the disintegration would start a little faster. I guess I’ll have to wait for the next 2 books for that to take place.

Also, Space Opera means Space Battles. Man, I HATE space battles. It’s tough to describe 5 minutes of action that stretches out for days. It is BORING, even when the author skips all the boring in-between times. Bleh. Give me marines with super rifles blowing the crap out of aliens any day! I hope there is some of THAT in the next 2 books.

★★★☆ ½

bookstooge