Book Review: When the Gods Aren’t Gods (The Theogony Book 2)

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Chris Kennedy Book Reviews

Hey Space Cadets, here is the next installment in my series of book reviews. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m a member of the TRMN. It’s a fan club for the Honor Harrington Universe by David Weber, and they do contests for their members all the time. There is a reading contest going on recently, and we get bonus points for reading authors who are on the TRMN Author List. And, if those authors will be at the 2017 Honor Con, we get even more points! So, you’ll see my next several reviews on books by Chris Kennedy, Marko Kloos and David Weber before I get back to Richard Fox’s Ember Wars stories.  I’m also working on book four of The Sleeping Legion Series.  Finally, if you haven’t read it, Operation Breakout is live!

 

But enough about me, onto this specific review. Now let’s get to it!

Title: When the Gods Aren’t Gods (The Theogony Book 2)

Author: Chris Kennedy

Narrator: Craig Good

Price: $3.99 USD (Kindle Edition) & $1.99 USD (Audible Add On)

Obtained: I bought the story and audiobook combination from Amazon.

Pages: 432

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Rating: 5/5 Grenades

Summary:

First, let me say that none of what I’ll say in this section couldn’t be found on the back copy of the novel.  I wanted to provide a spoiler free review, so here goes nothing!  This novel carries on after Janissaries, the first novel in The Theogony Trilogy.  Lieutenant Commander Shawn ‘Calvin’ Hobbs and his special forces platoon just returned from a three-month mission to the stars.  The technology they brought back will help, but it won’t be enough to hold off the alien menace headed their way.  Although they returned alive, they returned without finding any new allies or help in building the fleet necessary to ensure the Earth’s survival.

They’ve got to go back out to the stars.

“When the Gods Aren’t Gods” is the second book in “The Theogony,” a trilogy that takes Lieutenant Commander Hobbs and his special forces platoon to the stars, where they have found out that there is much more to Earth’s history than is written in the history books!

What do you do when myths become reality, and nothing you have ever been taught about history turns out to be true?  How do you find the truth when everything you know is a lie?  What is there left to believe in, when even the gods aren’t gods?

 

Characters:

In this novel, we get more in depth with Shawn Hobbs, with the other characters in the series given secondary status.  This novel didn’t lose any of the characters that were awesome in the previous books in this universe, nor did Chris Kennedy didn’t sacrifice what made Occupied Seattle Duology awesome.  Calvin Hobbs was a flushed out, three-dimensional character that I thought was a lot of fun.  I felt like I could relate to him as a person, and was someone I would want to hang out with.  While we see most of the story through Hobb’s eyes, there was still plenty of red shirts and glorious death!  Like his previous novels, I was helped by my time in the service, because Chris used his military service color this science fiction military thriller.  Here is a brief summary of the main character.

Shawn “Calvin” Hobbs: He is a fighter pilot for the US Navy who becomes an instant war herp/celebrity once he got shot down during the opening salvo of the Sino America War.  He got involved with the resistance and ends up leading a small band of disenfranchised troopers in a war against the occupying force.  These actions caught the attention of the aliens spying on humanity, and end with him being requested to lead humanities efforts to assist their new alien allies.  In this book we follow him as he helps unify the Earth around the

Overall, I will give these characters 5 out of 5 Grenades and can’t wait to see where the author takes this character throughout this series!

 

Plot:

Like most of the military fiction I love to read, this was an action-packed novel.  The story is set in the post Sino American War world, after China invaded Seattle as a feint to keep the US from honoring our commitment to Taiwan.  Immediately after the war ends, aliens make contact with Earth.  We find out that most of Earths mythologies are actually aliens who visited humanity in its infancy and those who witnessed it and left told the stories of these “gods” to their people.  As part of the quest to find allies in the pending war against the Drakuls, Shawn Hobbs gets to meet these aliens.

The premise was interesting and the set-up was well executed.  We see a conclusion of the goal of a unified Earth and a one world government, which granted access to more bad assed advanced tech from the Psiclopes’s stranded on Earth.  Chris covered the needed political gamesmanship very well, with the required non-action scenes not bogging down the plot.  I would love to give some examples, but this is a spoiler free review!

With my military background, I thought the way the military was portrayed was credible.  Well, as much as we could say about futuristic tech!  On a happy note, this book ditched some of the aviation porn in favor of ground combat.  This was excellently handled, with tactics that fit the world Chris created.  I really loved the premise of this plot, and more importantly I enjoyed how he executed it.  I couldn’t ask for anything more; excellent premise, perfect execution and wonderful pacing!  I again give Chris 5 out of 5 Grenades!

 

World Building:

This is the second book in The Theogony Trilogy, and I’m still hooked on this world!  Like in the previous novel in this trilogy, this world was very flushed out.  I was especially pleased with the way Chris Kennedy handled the evolution from our current geopolitical status quo into the unified Terran Government created in this book.  The new Republic of Terra conversion was handled well, I was sold on the way it happened.  Even with a pending alien invasion, there was dissent and political gamesmanship.  The changes were believable, and there was no waving of the hands to address the realities of geopolitics at the international level.  There would be no panacea for the new world government, as each nation jockeyed for power.  Regardless, the novel built on the modern world and made his divergent path extremely plausible.  I give the world building 5 out of 5 Grenades.

 

Description:

Like the previous book, this novel was chalk full of visualization, and you could definitely imagine yourself in this world.  There were some scenes which were confusing, and difficult to envision, but like the last novel he balanced the explanation of the various military minutia with the need to move a story along.  There were very few places where I couldn’t picture the scenery and the equipment, which added to world that felt tangible and I enjoyed it.  He was, alas, a little light on the details of what the various characters looked like.  And he went overboard on the mythology and religion, which isn’t something I normally look for in my science fiction.  Overall, I give Chris 4 out of 5 grenades in this category!

 

Narration Quality:

Like the previous novels, this audiobook was excellently executed.  The narrator, Craig Good, did an amazing job narrating this book.  He didn’t bore you, or make you zone out because of his monotone.  His performance didn’t feel robotic, like a machine was reading the novel too me.  Instead, it felt like a friend was sitting with me reading an amazing story that he couldn’t put down.  This time the way Craig did the voices of the various characters had grown on me and kept me engaged throughout the periods I was listening to this book.  He must be growing on me?  You might notice that my review of his performance has been the same for his last three books, and it’s because he provides a steady and consistent performance.  Overall, I give him a 5 out of 5 grenades for his performance.

 

Overall:

I really loved this book, it made my drive very enjoyable and I was able to escape the multitude of bad drivers that littered the highways and die-ways.  With this book, I listened to all but a few chapters, which is a testament to the quality of the audiobook.

Like the previous book in this trilogy, the cover was amazingly invocative.  I love how the trilogy has a similar theme running through it, and picking military unit patches for the space marines definitely fit this book.  I could definitely see this on some swag!  The military culture shown in this book was spot on, even the ground combat.  Such accurate portrayal of the tactics is rare, especially when coming from a sailor like Chris Kennedy.  He wove the action in such a compelling way that you could almost forget that he was just a silly fly boy!  As for the military equipment, well it was a lot smoother than the previous novel.  None of the future tech was perfect, it didn’t always work and sometimes failed at the worst possible moments.  That is a good thing, as it adds realism to his novels!  As an additional plus, we got to play with his believable small unit tactics when the new Republic of Terra Space Marines were formed and used by Calvin Hobbs.  Basically, Chris had me hooked from the beginning, and kept it going throughout the whole novel.  I even stayed up to late, reading in the hotel bathroom once the kids went to bed!!  It’s an amazing adventure, a look into Chris’s twisted imagination, and leaves you wondering which grunt he bribed for the insight into how we think!  This is a book I would happily recommend, and an author I will definitely read again.  Heck, I would even recommend that you buy the novel!  But hey, it’s easy to spend someone else’s money!

 

 

If this book sounds like it’s right up your alley, check it out, you won’t regret it!  Well, unless it motivates you to squeeze your fat body into your old uniform and you die from the shock to your system.  And when you die, you end up in limbo, all alone.  And since you’re alone, you go insane from the solitude.  And in your insanity, you try to fly, but can’t.  Instead, you’re left merged with the asphalt you fell onto at your failed effort to recreate Kitty Hawk.  Stuck in the asphalt, your soul wastes away until there is no you left and you fade out just as Ragnarök begins.  Yeah, it would suck to miss that so maybe you should tread lightly!  Well yeah, I guess this could be bad for you.  But hey, at least you got to see eternity pass you by as you fade into nothing.  On second thought, be warned, fanboy/fangirl syndrome MIGHT kill you.  Be wary, you were warned and if you have to go out like that at least enjoy the view from up there!

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

JR

> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are videos used by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.

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Book Review: The Honor of the Queen

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Hey Space Cadets, here is the next installment in my series of book reviews.  I’m currently reading one of the greats of military science fiction, David Weber.  I want to read his novels, and mine them for useful skills.  He created one of the largest fan bases, so he is clearly doing something right.  Nothing has really changed on my end, so I won’t bore your ear holes with gibberish.  Instead, let’s jump right into the nuts and bolts of the story.

 

Title: The Honor of the Queen

Author: David Weber

Price: $0.00 USD (Kindle Version)

Obtained: I bought it on Amazon

Pages: 421 pages

 

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Rating: 4/5 Grenades

4 Grenade

 

Summary:

This book shares the story of Captain Honor Harrington of the Royal Manticoran Navy.  She commands the newly commissioned HMS Fearless, which replaced the one she lost fighting at Basilisk Station.  After the incident between the Havenites and the Royal Navy on Basilisk Station, tensions rose and a state of ‘cold war’ existed between the two nations.  Once her ship was commissioned after the one she’d had shot out from under her, Honor is tasked with escorting a diplomatic envoy to the planet Grayson to negotiate for the ability to put a forward operating base in their territory.  While there we see a clash of cultures between the more egalitarian Graysonites and the ‘modern’ Manticorians.  Her mission ends up smack dab in the middle of hostilities between the Protectorate of Grayson and the Madasan religious state.  If you want to know more, read the book!

 

Characters:

The main character in this novel is Honor Harrington, a naval captain who is given command of the newly rebuilt HMS Fearless at the beginning of the novel.  Like before, I found myself drawn to her, but this time she came across as a little too perfect to me.  There were times where her perfection was annoying, but David Weber did a good job making her ‘perfection’ become a hindrance which is why I kept reading.  Regardless, she was a well-developed character with enough depth to make her believable.  She’s a no-nonsense kind of woman, who gets the job done and overcomes, no matter the cost.  This annoys me, because you get the impression that Honor doesn’t really worry about the hundreds of lives lost in every battle.  Unlike On Basilisk Station, Honor seems to sacrifice her troops needlessly in an all-out bid for victory.

 

Plot:

I felt like the plot moved along at a steady pace, a bit slow in places but not enough to draw you out of the universe David Weber was creating.  The author loves his descriptions of the science of space flight, but I skim over those in favor of the actual story.  I don’t care how the space flight works, just that he has a reason that it does.  However, there are those who love this about David’s work.  Like his earlier novel, the plot was enough that I kept turning the pages for more.  What more can we really ask for!  This novel was heavier on the space combat, and the parts where we’ve combat on the ground it felt forced.  This novel was easier to read than book one, but I still had issues with the changes in POV.  It felt jarring and the shifts were hard to follow, though it wasn’t as bad as the previous novel.  I read this novel as an eBook, and it was published as a trade paperback in 1993.  Again, I’m guessing that the novel was simply poorly converted, and the indications of the swapping POVs weren’t carried over.  Either way, it was an issue for me.  The plotting was a four out of five grenades for me.

 

World Building:

I felt like the world building in this novel was solid, there was just enough to understand everything.  The setting was cogently written, believable and fun to imagine yourself joining.  Probably a bad idea, as lots of people die in these fights, but such are the dangers of SciFy fandom.  Admittedly, I came into these novels after being seduced to the dark side by the TRMN Fan Club at RavenCon last year so I knew a lot about the universe going in.  I think it would’ve still stood alone on the laurels of the world David Weber created, but felt the need for full disclosure.  If you don’t remember, I enjoyed the world building in book one.  This book kicked it up a few octaves, which I loved.  There were parts where I felt it was lacking, but as a lover of stories I recognized them as hooks to what I expect to happen in later novels.  I would love to wax poetically here, but I’m striving to avoid spoilers.  In this section, I give David Weber five out of five grenades!

 

Description:

I felt like this one is hard, my visualizations were colored by the outside representations I’ve seen from the TRMN.  These fans are dedicated and cosplay his universe, so when I read these books they were what I pictured.  I think it was well done, but it’s possible my affiliation with his rabid fans colored my readings of things.  That said, I definitely feel like the descriptions of this book was greatly improved from the last one.  In that regard, this was a success for David Weber.  However, in some cases he went too far the other direction with regards to descriptions.  This isn’t an issue for me, but it’s worth noting it to you, dear reader.  I’d give this section five out of five grenades.

 

Overall:

Aside from my issues with the jarring switches from one POV to another, I really enjoyed this novel.  It kept me hooked, and gave me an idea of how to make the hard science fiction approach to space combat more enjoyable.  Like the earlier book in this series, it was a bit heavy on the math.  I’m in no way qualified to judge the veracity of the math, but this book was otherwise enjoyable and I’ve already bought book three.  Another oddity, at least for me, was the pot calling the kettle black syndrome I saw between the Grayson Protectorate and the Kingdom of Manticore.  The Manticorian’s thought the sexist, antiquated views of the Graysonites were backwards.  The polygamous marriages, and how women were kept solely in the domestic sphere was foreign to Honor and her crew.  This seemed a bit judgmental to me, given the classists nature of Manticorian society.  One society was classist but egalitarian, while the other one was a merit based society for the males.  This might’ve been missed by some, and might just be one of my quirks, but it did stick out to me.  Not in a bad way, just an oddity I noticed right away.  I liked the novel enough to buy book three and will be reading that next.  When the author is such an iconic master like David Weber, us noobs need to read and learn.  And as an aside, how many books must one publish before we stop calling them noobs?  Asking for a friend!  Anyway, this wasn’t a WOWZER five grenade novel, but it was good.  Damn good.  Despite my issues with the POV hopping, was a book I would happily recommend.  Heck, I would even recommend that you buy the novel in the digital AND hardcover format!  Some novel’s I’ve only like enough to check out from the library, but this one you’ll want to buy for your reading pleasure and keep on your bookshelves.  Overall, the POV hopping wasn’t as bad in this novel, so if grenades weren’t such an all or nothing endeavor this would be a solid 4.5 grenades.  However, grenades don’t do things by half measures so four it is.

 

 

If this book sounds like it’s right up your alley, check it out after you read On Basilisk Station!  You won’t regret it!  Well, unless it keeps you up all night and you’re late to work… and then you fall asleep while driving and wreck your vehicle.  And because you’re late, since you have no car, your boss fires you.  And without viable employment, you become a rabid David Webber fan, blowing your life savings buying all gazillion of his novels in this universe.  And then, because you’re unemployed and need a job, you enlist into the Royal Manticoran Marine Corps.  As a grunt, you’re then deployed to the front lines.  And then you die in a hail of laser fire, forcing your spirit to carry on in the limbo as a ghost.  With nothing left to lose, you haunt David, the man who ruined your life.  And then his wife, a smart woman, exorcises you with holy water.  Okay, the fanboy/fangirl syndrome MIGHT kill you.  Be warned, but enjoy the high!

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are used on the Fair Use Doctrine.

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Book Review: The Ember War

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Hey Space Cadets, here is the next installment in my series of book reviews.  I’m currently taking a break on reading the Honor Harrington Series to read The Ember War Saga by a fellow Army veteran, Richard Fox.  He seems to be pretty successful, so another author whom might have something to teach us all.  I always want to read novels by well written authors, because I mine everything I read for useful skills.  Nothing has really changed on my end, so I won’t bore your ear holes with gibberish.  Instead, let’s jump right into the nuts and bolts of the story.

 

Title: The Ember War

Author: Richard Fox

Price: $3.99 USD (Kindle Version) or $2.99 (Add on Audiobook)

Obtained: I bought the novel, but also received the audio version for free from Podium Publishing.

Pages: 426 pages

 

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Rating: 5/5 Grenades

5 Grenade

 

Summary:

This book shares the story of Marc Ibarra, an alien probe, Marine Lieutenant Hale, Captain Valdar, and the star cruiser Breitenfeld.  The alien probe arrives to help Marc Ibarra prepare Earth for the coming invasion.  A series of events and political assignations end with two super powers fighting for dominance and an arms race.  Ultimately this prepares the Naval forces for what was to come when they fight this mysterious enemy force. The survivors of humanity had been tasked to escort a colony mission, but disappeared, only reappearing where they’d left.  Only, it wasn’t the same year they’d left.  They’d returned 60 years into the future, with Earth wiped out and an alien invasion.  If you want to know more, read the book!

 

Characters:

There were three main characters in this novel; the star cruiser Breitenfeld, Captain Isaac Valdar, Lieutenant Hale, Marc Ibarra and the alien probe.  Like most novels with multiple POVs, each one served a unique purpose in the evolution of the plot.  Each of these characters were well written, and you could feel enough depth to make them believable.

 

Breitenfeld: While the ship didn’t have any personality, per say, she was such an integral part of the story that she began to have agency and personhood.  I was never a sailor, but I understand our swabbie friends have said similar things about current naval vessels.  Like all good weapons of war, human and machine, she begins to show her age as she progresses through the plot.  Scars, however, show her character as she bleeds oil and vents atmosphere to protect her crew.  The way Richard Fox describes the ship, you could almost believe it was a sentient being!

 

Captain Isaac Valdar:  This character allowed you to see the naval action of the story, always at the tip of the spear in the war against the Xaros alien probes.  His position as the ships commander make it extremely plausible for him to be in any action that directly involved the Breitenfeld.  He was a troubled man, who’d lost his entire world when Earth was wiped out.  I could feel his pain, and it became my pain as I read his story.  As an author, if you can make your audience emotionally invested in your characters, you won.  Richard Fox did his job, and this character was extremely well flushed out.

 

Lieutenant Hale: This character allowed you to see the action of the story, always at the tip of the spear in the war against the Xaros alien probes.  His position as one of the junior Marine officers, and a member of a special forces wing of the Marine Corps makes it extremely plausible for him to be everywhere when the Gauss Rifles start firing.  He was a bit too ‘gung ho’ and competent for a junior officer but otherwise he was flushed out.  Admittedly he had a competent senior NCO at his side, but I would’ve preferred to see the LT make a few mistakes so we knew he was, in fact, actually still an LT!  I’ll honestly admit, I was an enlisted NCO and the author was an Army officer so some of this is merely a matter of perspective.  That aside, the character was likeable and well thought out.  I felt he was believable and he showcased the authors own time in the US Army.  Overall, an extremely well flushed out character.

 

Marc Ibarra/Alien Probe:  We meet the unnamed alien probe and a young Marc Ibarra at the beginning of this story, and while they don’t get a whole lot of face time they’re both so integral to the story that I feel like they’re defacto main characters.  They were flushed out, with just enough information to be believable and yet vague enough we could picture them as embodiments of character archetypes we know and love.  They were just the sort of shady that keeps you up at night, and conspiracy theorists spinning circles at the possibilities.

 

Plot:

This plot moved along at a steady pace, I never felt like it slowed down, which I loved.  I loved the detail and precision that Richard Fox payed to the military technology.  Further, I liked that he didn’t get bogged down in the science of space travel.  He didn’t ignore it, but rather he didn’t get bogged down in it like hard science fiction stories do.  As a reader, I don’t care how the space flight works, just that the author had a reason that it did.  This novel was heavier on the ground operations than the space combat, but none of it felt lacking.  While this novel changed POVs several times, it never felt jarring and the shifts were easy to follow.  I read this novel as an eBook, and listened to it as an audiobook via the Whisper Sync feature via Amazon’s pairing with Audible.  The plotting was definitely five out of five grenades for me.

 

World Building:

The world building of this novel was expertly done, and it never felt like it was done as an “info dump.”  I felt like the world building in this novel was solid, there was just enough to understand everything.  I could picture most of what he described, though it started in “modern” America, which helped me a lot.  However, with regards to the space technology, it was persuasively written, believable and fun to imagine myself joining.  Now I want my own Gauss Rifle!  There were some parts where I felt it was lacking details, but as a lover of stories I recognized them as hooks for what I expect to happen in later novels.  I can’t really say anything else here without spoiling it for people who haven’t read the stories, but the world building was a solid five out of five grenades.

 

Description:

Much like the world building, the detailed descriptions were solidly done.  I could envision what he wrote, and I can’t wait for the graphic novel out of this universe!  Hint, hint Richard!  I definitely feel like the descriptions of this book set the standard, balance the not enough against the too much.  In regards to description, this was a success for the author.  I’d give this section four point five out of five grenades.  There was room to make the descriptions really pop, but it didn’t hurt the overall story for me.

 

Audio Quality:

I received the audiobook free as a proof of concept from Podium Publishing while in we were in negotiation for my own series.  In fact, the quality of this production was why I pushed Boss Man to agree to the contract.  The only real complaint the accents of the various characters made them slightly difficult to understand.  Because of this, I couldn’t tell you a single call sign for the pilots in this novel.  Full disclosure, I lost some of my hearing while in the service, so this might just be my own issue.  Besides, if this is my only complaint, I call it a win!  Five out of five grenades.

 

Overall:

In spite of my issues with the accents from the narrator, I really enjoyed this novel.  The story kept me hooked, and made me want to read the rest of the series.  I’ve bought book two and three already!  This wasn’t a novel to revolutionize the world, but that isn’t why I read military science fiction.  I want explosions, gun fights and cool stories.  A few cool aliens wouldn’t hurt, and in every regard Richard Fox delivers!  I would even recommend that you buy the novel in the digital AND audio format!  Some novel’s I’ve only like enough to check out from the library, but this one you’ll want to buy for your reading pleasure and keep to read again.  This was a solid 5 grenades.

 

 

If this book sounds like it’s right up your alley, check it out!  You won’t regret it!  Well, unless it keeps you up all night and you’re late to work… and then you fall asleep while driving and wreck your vehicle.  And while you’re stuck on the side of the road your boss calls and fires you because you’re late.  Without viable employment, you become a rabid fan, blowing your life savings buying all gazillion of his novels in this universe.  And then, while looking for a job the alien probe arrives… and well, you know what happens.  Then, you’ll try to tell your friends but they’ll think you’re insane and lock you up in a funny farm.  And then they give you good drugs, making you see even more of the aliens, forcing your spirit to carry on in the limbo as your body sits in a drugged-out comma, restrained by your straight jacket.  With nothing left to lose, you astroproject in Richard’s office because he ruined your life.  But you go insane at the futility because he can’t see or hear you.  Okay, the fanboy/fangirl syndrome MIGHT kill you.  Be warned, but enjoy the happy pills!

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are used on the Fair Use Doctrine.

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