The Last Colony : Old Man's War

  • by John Scalzi
  • Narrated by William Dufris
  • Series: Old Man's War
  • 9 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Retired from his fighting days, John Perry is now village ombudsman for a human colony on distant Huckleberry. With his wife, former Special Forces warrior Jane Sagan, he farms several acres, adjudicates local disputes, and enjoys watching his adopted daughter grow up.That is, until his and Jane's past reaches out to bring them back into the game - as leaders of a new human colony, to be peopled by settlers from all the major human worlds, for a deep political purpose that will put Perry and Sagan back in the thick of interstellar politics, betrayal, and war.

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What the Critics Say

"Scalzi's captivating blend of off-world adventure and political intrigue remains consistently engaging." (Booklist)
"The sequel to Old Man's War combines taut military action with keen insights into the moral issues revolving around developing technologies. Scalzi has a finely tuned sense of balance between personal drama and the 'big picture'....Highly recommended." (Library Journal)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

3.5 stars

Originally published at FanLit.

The Last Colony, the third book in John Scalzi’s OLD MAN’S WAR series, returns us to the perspective of John Perry, the “old man” hero of the first novel in the series, Old Man’s War. John Perry is only mentioned in the second novel, The Ghost Brigades, which told the story of how the cyborg Special Forces soldiers found and defeated the scientist Charles Boutin, a traitor to the Colonial Union. On that mission they also found Zoe, Boutin’s young daughter. Zoe has been adopted by Jane Sagan and John Perry and the little family has been farming on one of Earth’s colonies where John and Jane are the leaders.

Life is easy for them until the Colonial Union comes calling — they need leaders for a new colonization effort and John and Jane have been selected. This new colony (named Roanoke…. hmmmm… I think I wouldn’t have signed up for that) will be comprised of people from several different human worlds and John and Jane are responsible for its success. However, the Colonial Union hasn’t been completely honest with them. It will be a lot more dangerous than the members of Roanoke have been led to believe. They are being played as political pawns and they don’t realize it until it’s too late. And it’s not just Roanoke that’s in danger, but the entire human race.

The Last Colony (I keep wanting to write “The Lost Colony”) has a different tone than Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades. It takes place mainly on a planet, rather than in space, and deals mostly with domestic and political matters rather than space battles and espionage. Some of the political dialogue between characters we don’t know is dull, especially if you’re hoping for lasers and explosions, but Scalzi continues to explore the interesting theme of access to information and the problems that occur when the government controls the press. When and how should governments control information? That’s always a relevant topic, isn’t it?

Like its predecessors, The Last Colony features John Scalzi’s engaging writing style and ultra-competent well-developed characters. Some of these are characters we already know and love (John and Jane) one is a character we are happy we’re getting to know (Zoe) and some are new characters that Scalzi makes it easy for us to love (e.g., the Mennonite leader, Hickory and Dickory) or hate (e.g., the journalists). And some are there to show us that our first impressions aren’t always correct.

I mentioned in my review of The Ghost Brigades that the political situation was getting murky and it gets even murkier here. It is not clear to us (or to many of the characters) whose side we should be on. Readers may find it discomfiting to realize they are having trouble sympathizing with their home planet. It may be even more discomfiting to realize that Scalzi’s story doesn’t have to stretch the imagination too far. Sometimes “human nature” is not a pretty thing, but it’s what we know. What if someday we find ourselves needing to interact with beings who have a non-human nature?

You can probably read The Last Colony without having read the previous books, Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades, but you’ll have some catching up to do. It would be better to wait on this one until you’ve read its predecessors. They’re both great books, anyway. The fourth book in the OLD MAN’S WAR series is Zoe’s Tale which tells the story of Roanoke colony from Zoe’s perspective. It’s mostly the exact same plot as The Last Colony with a few side adventures for Zoe. If you’re only interested in the plot progression, you can skip Zoe’s Tale. If you’re interested in getting to know Zoe, you should read it.

I’m listening to William Dufris narrate OLD MAN’S WAR. I think he’s amazing. Macmillan Audio produced this installment.
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- Katherine "I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!"

The 4th book in what should have been a trilogy

I was surprised at this book having read the three others in the series. This is an alternate take on the events of Zoe's Tale. While that was through the eyes of a 15-year-old girl, this is from the perspective of her father, the colony leader. The issues I have is there are too many continuity errors between these two books. Having listened to one, the other won't mesh well. I would suggest reading this version first, then do Zoe's Tale and treat it as a standalone novel.
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- Ron

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-14-2008
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio