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So why do I think it was appropriate to call this title a "space opera?" Unless you're a huge fan of opera you'll likely find the experience somewhat tedious intermingled with moments of brilliance. That's about how I felt about "Hard Duty." If you're a fan of the series or the author (it turns out that although this is called book 1 it was actually written as a "prequel" after book 2) you'll likely love this book - just look at the number of positive reviews. If you're just reading it as a stand-alone book you might be less than satisfied, which would explain the rest of the reviews.
The overall storyline is good - two alien races nearly wiped out by the evil Merkiaari meet for the first time. Can they see past the terrible scars those encounters left to make a peaceful first contact, or will their justifiable mutual distrust doom the attempt? I loved the first face-to-face meeting of the races - let's just say it doesn't quite go as planned. Narration is good as well - no monotone recitals and good differentiation of characters. There's a lot of characters, so if 1 or 2 of them sound alike that's okay.
The bigger problems really come from the storytelling and progression. There are multiple storylines here. One of them gets dropped 1/3 into the book and doesn't show up again until the very end, and never gets tied to the rest of the plot. The other storyline is more cohesive, but it is difficult to gauge the passage of time and what happens in parallel with what. Both stories end abruptly and not particularly satisfactorily. Probably this is less apparent if you are familiar with the other books in the series. Knowing then what I know now, I might have started with book two.
Overall it's not a bad book, particularly (I believe) if you come into it with some foreknowledge of what is going on. I may still give Book 2 a try because there is some solid storytelling here, even if the overall book may have benefitted from some additional editing.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Up front, no mind-twisting serious depth here, and many plot and execution flaws... but somehow it kept me smiling and listening. I hate to say I keep thinking of it as "Young/Juvenile Science Fiction", but that's how it feels to me. Part of me wants to say "Shallow", but a bigger part enjoyed it. I've bought Book 2, So I guess buying the next book in the series is proof that there is enough here to keep me listening, while hoping the story line matures.
10 of 12 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to Hard Duty again? Why?
Definitely. Mark E Cooper has written a book that is both believable for humanity's future but also has that sparkle of science fiction that we all crave for. As the story progressed I found myself drawn in and felt almost like a part of the crew hoping that the mission would be successful and Mikael Naramore does such a wonderful job bringing life to the characters that I'm now champing at the bit to see how the story continues in the second book.
What other book might you compare Hard Duty to, and why?
Most of my previous science fiction reading has been limited to more battle focused series and this has been a wonderful change of pace for me that I don't honestly think I can compare it to my previous experience.
Which character – as performed by Mikael Naramore – was your favourite?
James grew to be my favourite as the story progressed but Captain Colgan was a firm favourite from start to finish as well. Where James developed into himself and found purpose as his story progressed Jeff Colgan exuded calm confidence and reliability mixed with a compassionate side and a need to get the job done.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Without wanting to post a spoiler(so no names) but the death of a father is always hard especially when he is tring to stay calm for the sake of a young child.
Any additional comments?
A superlative story well written and delivered I would recommend this book to everyone who wants to escape into the stars and meet new races :)
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Enjoyed the 1st 2 books and now trying to get the 3rd .but looks like I have to buy the full series just to get the last in the series.