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I read a lot of books and buy a lot of Audible credits. It is not often that I'll plonk down a precious credit for a book I have already read but The Course of Empire was an excellent read when it came out many years ago, a book I remember thoroughly enjoying, and I wanted to re-familiarize myself with the series before picking up its sequel Crucible of Empire.
Course of Empire is not groundbreaking, but it is a well told story, well narrated, with an interesting take on an alien culture. Like many books in the military Sci-Fi genre there is a fair degree of predictability in the flow of the story, you can see the arc of the book from early pages. But its still a very entertaining Arc. Fans of David Weber or David Drake would do well to pick this one up.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Eric Flint and K D Wentworth have created an interesting environment in this book. The Jao, having conquered the Earth, are having limited success in governing it and have adopted a mixed punitive - negligence policy between themselves and the humans with the current governor viewing "punitive" as being the better policy, especially toward the U.S. which, having had the biggest military, put up the biggest fight against their conquerors during the war. Into this tinderbox arrives a new Jao sent by his clan to serve as a military commander.
The book started slowly for me and I had a difficult time understanding the relationships between the characters, especially the Jao, for the first hour or so. Exactly what was a “Frata”? I was tempted to go on to something else, but I have always enjoyed Eric Flint’s books so I persisted and, as the story progressed, the relationships started to sort themselves out. By the third hour into the book I had become hooked and found it hard to put the book down.
The Jao society and family relationships are very complex and I was reminded, by that complexity, of the society Frank Herbert created in Dune where it took me two or three readings of the book to really understand what was happening and why. Here things become clear more quickly than that, but the story of a “good” Jao and a “bad” Jao and the sour relationships between their clans also reminded me of the Atraides and Harkonnen families in Dune and it became clear that this book was largely to be the story where events were governed by that relationship. And, as with Dune, I found myself taking sides and becoming invested in the characters.
While I enjoyed the book a great deal it was not until the epilogue that things really made sense. The explanations of how and why things turned out as they did turned an OK 4 star book into a very good 5 star book for me. Suddenly things were much clearer and the story no longer seemed as predictable as it did up to that point.
Chris Patton’s reading is very good. There is no stumbling over names and relationships and the narration never got in the way of the story. I found the book so enjoyable that I decided that I would buy the second in the series without waiting to see how many books there will be. Normally I would want to be sure I could actually get all of the volumes, but this book was so much fun that I decided to go ahead without waiting.
I recommend this book as a relaxing “read”. It is not a “serious” book as, say, Dune is, but it is a lot of fun.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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This is an intriguing story about Earth under alien rule. It moves fast and has a good mix of politics, action, and cultural observation. This much kept me going for two thirds of the book. But for me it gradually became unconvincing and I didn't finish it.
I am not a particularly sophisticated reader. I chose this for light entertainment. But it is presented as an adult book and it felt to me suitable for young teens. The dialogue had a hint of childishness, making the human characters unconvincing while the two main alien characters were stereotyped: one thoroughly hateful, cruel, aggressive, and stupid; the other perfectly subtle, intelligent and almost humane.
I recommend it for teenagers, or adults in the mood for switching off and enjoying an action romp. Those sensitive to mediocre writing should steer well clear.