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This book was one of the better audiobooks I've listened to this year. It was well written, well narrated, and had a very original and unique concept.
Although difficult to explain in a quick summary, the "lines" are lines of energy that control various ship systems. The "line" technology (we find out later in the book) was actually reverse engineered from an alien ship discovered hundreds of years before the events in the storyline. Many aspects of the technology are not completely understood, and two of the lines (7 and 8) have no apparent purpose. The lines can only be fixed by a select few people known as Linesmen. These people have a type of extra sensory perception and are able to sense, manipulate, and fix the lines on ships. Linesmen are rated from 1-10, with their number depicting the highest line that they can manipulate. Level 10 Linesmen can manipulate all 10 lines, and are few and far between.
The story is told primarily from the point-of-view Ian Lambert, a Level 10 Linesman. Raised in the slums of a backwater world, he is considered an outcast by the other Linesman. He is also the only Linesman who senses and manipulates the lines with sound (by singing) and not with his mind, further convincing his peers that he doesn't belong. When he is accidentally hired by a high-born noble for a critical mission, his value and uniqueness as a Linesman become more apparent. He joins a ship full of government and military officials to explore a new alien ship that has been discovered in a remote area of space. The ship itself has defenses preventing anyone from reaching it. When it is discovered that only Ian can reach out and communicate with the ship and its lines, he becomes the most valuable resource in the galaxy, making him the target of multiple governments and military factions.
It isn't very often we see a truly unique story such as this. The book contained everything from alien ships, space battles, and a dash of fantasy with the Linesman concept. This was one of my best spent credits in awhile. The narration equally top notch. I would recommend this one for anyone looking for something new in a sci-fi story.
25 of 33 people found this review helpful
I really enjoyed this, and I’m not much of a SF reader on the whole. This was waved in front of my eyes by Audible at some point, and the reviews persuaded me to give it a go - that’s the good side of a subscription, for £7.99 you’re more willing to take a punt of something unknown.
Anyhow, this is set in classic Sci-Fi territory, space ships, military, unknown aliens, super fast travel, courtesy of ‘the lines’, but has a very human heart in Ean (spelt that way apparently) Lambert. It is mostly narrated by him, but about oh, I don’t know, 20%, maybe less, of the chapters are narrated by Franco (can’t remember if he’s a Frank, or a Franco…) Rossi.
Interstellar travel depends on the lines, and the lines need Linesmen to keep them serviced and reliable. There are, at the start anyhow, 10 known lines, with lines 9 and 10 responsible for travel through the void - a sort of hole in time and space that lets ships travel vast distances in no time. Lambert and Rossi are both Line 10 linesmen, as senior as you get, but Lambert is considered a weird misfit, ridiculed and dismissed by his peers, while Rossi is a politicking, patronising, arrogant so’n’so poised to take over his guild.
The book contains some politicking, but not too much, and there were times when I wanted Ean to grow a bit of backbone, but he is who and what he is, so I settled and came to like him! There are a host of supporting characters, generally well fleshed out, some backstabbing and derring-do, a nice developing mystery around the lines and the alien ship, and the last quarter or so was really gripping.
Well read with enough difference between the main characters, and with the women as well voiced by the narrator as the men. There’s a sequel due out February 2016 that I will be buying, with a third planned according to the writers’ web site. Recommended.