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: Beyond the Stroud of the Universe (Codex Regius 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.
Rating: 4/5 Grenades
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. Heck, I cribbed this summary from the back and then I add my own twist! I wanted to provide a spoiler free review, so here goes nothing! This novel carries on after The Theogony Trilogy, and is the second novel in follow-on The Codex Regius Trilogy. Lieutenant Commander Shawn “Calvin” Hobbs has saved Seattle, traveled to the stars, saved a few heirs to various interplanetary royal houses and forged new alliances with alien races. Was a little “down time” to work on the project too much to hope for? Obviously, because what kind of boring work would that be?
A mysterious race from an alternate universe has allied itself with the Jotunn, and the alliance is set on destroying the Aesir and bringing about Ragnarok. With an ability to jump between universes and unstoppable time-based weapons, the Efreet seem invincible. The Vella Gulf is the only ship to survive its first meeting with the Efreet…but only through a fluke of luck.
Worse, Lieutenant Commander Shawn ‘Calvin’ Hobbs has just found out the Efreeti home world is the same planet in their universe as Terra is in ours. If true, the Efreet could cross into our universe at any moment and annihilate the Earth without any warning. Terra lies defenseless!
Calvin and the crew of the Vella Gulf have a surprise for the Efreet, though; they have returned to Terra with the ability to cross between the universes like their enemy. Armed with personal transporters and jump modules for their ships, they’re now able to take the fight to the Efreet. But will they be in time to prevent Terra’s annihilation?
As the Efreet continue their inexorable onslaught on all fronts, Calvin only knows one thing. The answers to all their questions lie beyond the shroud of the universe.
In this novel, we get more in depth with Shawn Hobbs, with of the rest of the original characters in the series given secondary status. As many of the original secondary characters die gruesome and bloody deaths, we meet new and interesting people for Chris Kennedy to kill. This novel didn’t lose any of the characters that were awesome in the previous books in this universe, except by natural attrition, nor did Chris Kennedy sacrifice what made Occupied Seattle Duology, The Theogony Trilogy, and now The Codex Regius are awesome. Calvin Hobbs was a flushed out, three-dimensional character that I thought was a lot of fun. He’s so flushed out at this point, maybe we should advance him to four-dimensional! I still felt like I could relate to him as a person, and was someone I would want to hang out with. At this point, I was a little worried at his mental health as he doesn’t seem to react to the extreme losses that routinely occur around him, but I think this was done intentionally to keep the universe feeling fun. Seriously, this is my seventh book with Calvin and I still want to read more of his adventures! It’s sad to think that there’s only one book left before I have to wait for the author to write the next series. While we see most of the story through Hobb’s eyes, there was still plenty of red shirts and glorious death! The author, Chris Kennedy, calls them secondary characters but he kills so many of them off that they might as well be red shirts. Here’s a 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 built on that as he led several successful ground assaults, aerial missions and various other death defying combat roles in the mission of the Republic of Terra. By now, the battles he was involved with during the Sino American War seem like child’s play. He’s fought the blood thirsty Drakul’s who want to eat him and managed not to get killed by flying snakes who wanted to sacrifice him to their gods. He’s fought giant Jotun, lizard looking Efreet, and so many other aliens that you’ll lose count of all the blood and gore he’s had to wipe off his boots! In the strange world he finds himself, he must constantly adapt as old allies become enemies and enemies become allies. He’s basically become the space opera version of Machiavelli, but with more charm!
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 new series!
Like most of the military fiction I love to read, this was an action-packed novel. The story is set in the universe after Earth got involved in the war between the Jotun and the Aesir. The Republic of Terra barely survived the battle, loosing too many ships and is again on the verge of losing it all. Humanity is again confronted with the fact that most of Earth’s mythologies and fairy tales were actually tales of aliens who visited humanity in its infancy. As the Terran Navy is returning from helping their allies, they find that their new enemy is just behind the veil of Earth and plans must be made. Again, the premise for the series was interesting and the set-up was well executed. We watch the crew of the TSS Vella Gulf stumble into a mission they were unprepared for and the cost in lives is impressive. I’d honestly asked myself a few times how the ship even managed to stay in one piece, but they’re a hearty lot! I would love to give some examples, but you should just buy the series and find out for yourself! I really loved the premise of this plot, and more importantly I enjoyed how he executed it. The pacing was excellent and there was never a slow moment. I couldn’t ask for anything more; excellent premise, perfect execution and wonderful pacing! I again give Chris 5 out of 5 Grenades!
This is the second book in The Codex Regius Trilogy, and I’m still hooked on this universe! I’m thrilled to be back into this universe that I love so much. Like in the previous trilogy, this novel had a very flushed out world. It was consistent, made sense and sucked you in. I loved the way he handled inserting new aliens into the world, and letting them become part of the larger world. I liked that these new species, planets and technology made sense and it didn’t feel like they were added just to have shiny things. Overall, the world building was well done and I was sold on the way it happened. It felt believable and the characters fit within the universe Chris created. It was a fun ride, that made me wanna suit up… which is the goal of action/adventure authors! It didn’t take itself too seriously, which allowed you to focus on the fun which is why I read in the first place. I wouldn’t mind the warrior package that the space marines get with their implants either, hear they take off a few pounds! I give the world building 6 out of 5 Grenades.
Like the previous book, this novel was chalk full of visualization, and you could definitely imagine yourself in this world. The only scenes that were confusing and difficult to envision were the color schemes in the alternate/parallel universe. I believe this was my color blindness getting in the way, so I’m giving that part a pass. Also, like the previous novels, he balanced the explanation of the various military minutia with the need to move a story along. This book didn’t have a single place where I couldn’t picture the scenery and the equipment, which added to world that felt tangible and I enjoyed it. The author’s description of his universe was so evocative that I began imagining alternative tactics that the author didn’t use. It was a little bit distracting, but it’s a sign of an amazingly built universe. I didn’t find any issues with the descriptions, except for the previously mentioned color issue. The world he created evoked visceral emotions, heck I wanted to get my implants and join up again after this novel! As an author, Chris Kennedy was still lite on the details of what the various characters looked like but by now I just didn’t care. I wanted the action, the adventure and the PEW PEW! Overall, I give Chris 4 out of 5 grenades in this category because he missed some chances to get creative with the tactics. I won’t list the things I thought of, so he has room to play in the trilogy that follows this one.
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? However, not to nitpick, but there were a few places were the voices didn’t match the characters. They didn’t match how they were previously, but it only happened twice. And in case you notice that my review of his performance has been similar for his last six books, it’s because he provides a steady and consistent performance. Overall, I give him a 4 out of 5 grenades for his performance. Sorry, but that messed up voices drew me out of the story momentarily.
I really loved this book, it made my drive home from my brother-in-law’s wedding very enjoyable – I was able to escape the multitude of bad drivers that littered the highways and die-ways. With this book, I listened to half of it on the road, which is a testament to the quality of the audiobook. Like with book one, I wanted to take a road trip just to have an excuse to listen to the next book! My wife shot that one down, so I’ll stick with mostly reading book three in this series. Like the previous trilogy, the covers in this one were amazingly invocative. I like how Chris Kennedy made the trilogies covers work together. I’ll post an image after the review so you can check it out! The military culture shown in this book was spot on, even the ground combat. I feel like the author missed some chances to get creative with the tactics which had me screaming and is the only reason the book wasn’t a five-star review. Such accurate portrayal of the tactics is rare, especially when coming from a sailor. Seriously, the author weaponized the awesome power of the PEW PEW for this gripping halfway point for The Codex Regius Trilogy! He wove the action in such a compelling way that you could almost forget that has become the standard for this awesome author! Basically, Chris had me hooked from the beginning, and kept it going throughout the whole novel. 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 go looking for your own aliens. And on the search, you drive to Area 51 and try to push past the gate guards. Which would mean you’d get shot, since those guards have big scary guns. The guards, amped up on Red Bull unload a full clip into you, turning you into Swiss Cheese and leaving you to bleed out on the burning hot asphalt. 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!
–> 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.