To Honor You Call Us— review and commentary

Space operas are one of my favorite reads. Throw in a nifty hero or heroine and some bad guys to whip and my interest goes up a level. H. Paul Honsinger does a really good job with this debut novel, which is the first installment in his Man of War series. Based on the rather awkward title and the not so original name of the series, I wasn’t expecting too much, but this novel has most of what I want in a novel in this genre.

Our hero, Max Robichaux, has the “right stuff” to be successful. While Honsinger is no David Weber, nor is Robichaux a match for Honor Harrington, this novel reminds me of the best of Weber, and is vastly better than Weber when he is at his verbose worst. The trivia of this universe is explained in such a manner than most science fiction readers will understand, and those who don’t have some grasp of sci-fi probably won’t be interested anyway.

The best space operas have nasty villains, and the rodent evolved Krags are really nasty. Robichaux is killing them as the story opens, and there are no Star Trek Roddenberryesque moments wherein the audience sees the villains as worthy of sympathy. Nope. These rats stay rats.

Supporting and minor characters enjoy far more development than in some space operas, and I especially liked the doctor, who begins as a bit of comic relief, but grows into his role as a major player on board the star destroyer Cumberland. The episodic story works well, as Honsinger gives his cast of characters plenty to do as they journey through space, and there is sufficient suspense to keep the reader swiping the pages. Fans of military fiction and space yarns should really enjoy this novel.

I didn’t actually pay for this novel, as it is part of the “free” reading available to Amazon Prime, but it is fairly priced at $4.99 as of this post.


Steve Perry’s The Man Who Never Missed

Some years ago, during the dearth of Star Wars films, I read Shadows of the Empire, a Star Wars novel, by Steve Perry. Darn, it was good! Really, it is the best Star Wars novel I have read, and I have read quite a few. It takes place between Empire and Return (films V and VI).

Steve Perry has authored many novels, and recently, I purchased via Amazon’s Kindle store another, The Man Who Never Missed. This story is one of several in his Matador series. As others have said, things are often best in the beginning, and this is doubly true for this novel. First, it has a wonderful in media res beginning, where our hero, Emile Khadaji, is being stalked by a highly trained squad of Confed soldiers. But, very quickly indeed, the hunted becomes the hunter, and the reader learns that Khadaji is on a mission to wreak havoc on the Confederation. He’s doing one heck of a job, too! Secondly, this is the first novel in the series, so it serves as exposition for others.

Alas, the author uses extended flashbacks for the bulk of the novel, thus bringing the reader up to speed with Khadaji and his universe, but losing some of the suspense. Rather than have a spoiler alert, I’ll just say that warriors are trained and not just born, and the middle portion of the story lets the reader know quite a lot about our hero. Don’t get me wrong, the entire novel is a good read, but in the beginning it is more than good.

This novel was republished to the Kindle platform, and I read it via my iPad, but it was originally published in 1986, so long time Perry fans might have read it. The cover sucks (I used the paperback cover as my illustration) and the formatting isn’t perfect, but it is pretty good, so readers should not let the republishing aspect be a concern. Readers who like space opera, military fiction, martial arts, or just a good story should really enjoy The Man Who Never Missed.

Star Wars Day— May the Fourth be with you!

Shadows_of_the_empire_bookcoverScience fiction fans become so via one (or more) of three mediums: books, television, or video games. I like all three, but I am more into books. As a kid, I read classics such as Robert A. Heinlein’s I Will Fear No Evil and Stranger in a Strange Land, and I saw reruns of Star Trek TOS, and I watched Star Trek Voyager with great enthusiasm. There are movies based on Heinlein’s work (Star Ship Troopers) and both books and video games based on the various iterations of Trek.

However, one of the better blends of all three mediums is Star Wars. The original trilogy still thrills fans. Indeed, when adjusted for inflation, Star Wars is the second highest grossing film, and that, of course, doesn’t include the very successful sequels and prequels. There are some really decent books that use the Star Wars universe and characters quite well. (My favorite of those is Shadows of the Empire by Steve Perry.) And, the video games based on Star Wars may not rank in the top 10, but many have been quite successful, including our family favorites: Knights of the Old Republic and Jedi Knight II Jedi Outcast. Of course, gamers will know that Shadows of the Empire is also a video game. So, more than other mediums, Star Wars introduced many fans to science fiction, via the films, the books, and the video games. And, a lot of people got rich. America is a place where that can happen, and I think it is quite amazing, actually.

Even the cynics will agree that our capitalist nation seldom celebrates without a sale, so the folks over at TechTimes have put together a list of deals for Star Wars Day, May 4th. I don’t know how long these deals will last, so forgive me if you miss a great one.

And, may the force be with you!