Tag Archives: baen

Book Review: Frank Chadwick’s How Dark the World Becomes

How Dark the World Becomes by Frank Chadwick
How Dark the World Becomes by Frank Chadwick

Frank Chadwick’s How Dark the World Becomes is a space opera, adventure science fiction novel from Baen Books. I’ll admit that I was somewhat dubious about a “new” author, but I quickly became fully absorbed in the story of Sasha Naradnyo.

At first glance he is an utterly reprehensible character: he’s a mid-level crime boss who makes money from running gambling rackets and drugs. Yet this is a universe where humans survive on the margins of society, where they are welcome only in areas of brute labor, violence, and crime. Sasha is only a criminal because it is the only way for him to rise… but he also gives back in the form of funding a local hospital and protecting those he can from the harsh universe.

We don’t see much of Sasha as a criminal, instead, we come to him as he transitions, forced out of his previous life and into a wider world as he shows his true colors by protecting two children and their keeper. The writing is fast-paced and the universe is gritty and everything about it feels like one of the noir crime detective novels.

It is a fantastic read from a great author. I went from hating the main character to giving him a grudging respect that surprised me. Frank Chadwick doesn’t pull any punches, he delves into the darkness of his universe, taking his characters and putting them through the wringer and making it very clear from the beginning that no one – not even the main character – is safe.

I’ll note, this isn’t a book I would read when I’m in a dark mood. It’s gritty and in your face, not a cheerful or inspirational story, but one with a world-weary main character who has almost everything stripped from him.

The exciting debut of a nonstop noir SF from legendary game creator Frank Chadwick.  With one single act of kindness, a tough-as-nails hood with a heart of gold saves two alien children from assassination—and resets the balance of galactic power in the process.

Sasha Naradnyo is a gangster.  He’s a gangster with heart, sure, but Sasha sticks his neck out for no man.  That’s how you stay alive in Crack City, a colony stuffed deep into the crust of the otherwise unlivable planet Peezgtaan.  Alive only—because if you’re human, you don’t prosper, at least not for long.  Sasha is a second generation City native. His parents came to this rock figuring to make it big, only to find that they’d been recruited as an indentured labor force for alien overlords known as the Varoki.

Now a pair of rich young Varoki under the care of a beautiful human nanny are fleeing Peezgtaan, and Sasha is recruited to help.  All things considered, he’d rather leave the little alien lordlings to their fate, but certain considerations—such as Sasha’s own imminent demise if he remains—make it beneficial for him to take on the job.

But Sasha discovers his simple choice has thrust him into the midst of a political battle that could remake the galactic balance of power and save humanity from slow death by servitude.  Now all he has to do is survive and keep his charges alive on a hostile planet undergoing its own revolution.

But it’s the galaxy that had better watch out.  For now the toughest thug in Crack City has gotten his first taste of real freedom. He likes it, and wants more.

The stunning debut of a nonstop science fiction noir thriller from legendary game creator Frank Chadwick.

You can find it here on Amazon

Book Review: A Call to Duty by David Weber and Timothy Zahn

A Call to Duty by David Weber and Timothy Zahn
A Call to Duty by David Weber and Timothy Zahn

I first read David Weber and Timothy Zahn’s A Call to Duty last year.  I’ve long been a fan of both authors and I purchased the eARC (Advanced Reader Copy) from Baen’s eBooks without hesitation.

I’ll say right off that the book is every bit as fantastic as I had hoped.  The characters are fantastic, the setting is great, and the story is very engaging.  I particularly love seeing the great Star Kingdom of Manitcore in its infancy, watching the growing pains as it develops, and seeing it evolve.

The main character, Travis Uriah Long, has his flaws.  He’s got a painfully narrow focus and an inability to keep quiet when he sees something as being wrong… no matter how much trouble it gets him into, along with a social awkwardness that only gradually begins to fade.  To make matters worse, his half-brother dabbles in politics and since Travis is in the military and his brother is in league with the politician swinging against the military, things get a little difficult for poor Travis.

The book comes with all the exploding spaceship goodness that you can expect from a Baen read, along with the above mentioned fantastic characterization and gripping story.  Even though we know where the Star Kingdom will eventually end up, there’s enough tension because we have no idea what will happen to our characters in the process.  While our intrepid hero might well make it through the series, there are no guarantees.

All in all, if you are a fan of anything Weber or Zahn, this book, and the series it begins, is definitely worth a read.  You can find it on Amazon here.

NEW SERIES FROM NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHORS. Book #1 in Manticore Ascendant, a new series set in David Weber’s best-selling Honorverse, from multiple New York Times best seller David Weber and #1 New York Times best-selling author Timothy Zahn. FIRST TIME IN PAPERBACK.

Growing up, Travis Uriah Long yearned for order in his life . . . some things his neglectful mother couldn’t or wouldn’t provide. So when Travis enlisted in the Royal Manticoran Navy, he thought he’d finally found the structure he’d always wanted so desperately.

But life in the RMN isn’t exactly what he expected. Boot camp is rough and frustrating; his first ship assignment lax and disorderly; and with the Star Kingdom of Manticore still recovering from a devastating plague, the Navy is possibly on the edge of budgetary extinction.

The Star Kingdom is a minor nation among the worlds of the Diaspora, its closest neighbors weeks or months away, with little in the way of resources. With only modest interstellar trade, no foreign contacts to speak of, a plague-ravaged economy to rebuild, and no enemies looming at the hyper limit, there are factions in Parliament who want nothing more than to scrap the Navy and shift its resources and manpower elsewhere.

But those factions are mistaken. The universe is not a safe place. Travis Long is about to find that out.

Review: David Weber’s Sword of the South

David Weber's The Sword of the South.
David Weber’s The Sword of the South.

David Weber’s new Epic Fantasy novel, Sword of the South, is up on Baen’s websubscriptions and I picked it up last week for some ‘light’ reading.  I thought that I’d do a review of it, to give my impressions.  I’ll preface this by saying that I read an eARC of this book.  It’s not the complete version and it still has some editing to be done.   Therefore I’m not going to nitpick grammar and such.

I’ve been a long time fan of David Weber’s fantasy series, starting with Oath of Swords and then leading into The War God’s Own, Windrider’s Oath, and culminating in War Maid’s Choice.    If you haven’t read the series, you should.  It’s excellent.  The stories are, much like most of Weber’s, rich and interesting with detail, well orchestrated, and while the good guys don’t always get a happy ending, the bad guys generally come to bad ends.

The Sword of the South is, as far as I am aware, the start of his main epic.  The other four books were designed to be the opening act, as it were, much like Tolkien’s The Hobbit was to Lord of the Rings.  The clash between the powers of Light and Darkness is begun.  From the very first pages, you get the feeling that the stakes are higher and that the costs may be far higher than the previous books.  Since the previous books saw the deaths of beloved characters, this generally means that no one is safe.  The Sword of the South is also written so that a new reader, someone unfamiliar with the series, can start here without issue, while still rewarding long-time readers with inside jokes and references to events in humorous fashion.

The premise of the book is simple enough, retrieve a powerful weapon from an evil sorceress and defeat her minions along the way.  In execution, there are a number of complications, with master assassins, arch-wizards, demons, and dragons all getting involved.  This book gives a much broader picture of the world in some ways, filling out some of the details that the reader might have been interested in from the other books.  In some ways, though, this book feels… incomplete.  Almost as if this were a sideshow in the larger overall events that David Weber has scripted to come later.  The mission is, without a doubt, essential, in more ways than one.  Indeed, in many ways the journey seems as important as the mission, but while I came away eager to read the next installment, I also came away at the end with a feeling that a little too much remained unresolved.

Characterization is excellent.  Several characters from the other books are here, to lesser or greater extent.  Some time has passed (I won’t say how much, because that’s part of the plot, actually), and it is good to see how characters have grown or matured from their experiences.  As a reader, I found it wonderful to see the payoff of how characters had progressed and grown (and also to see some guesses confirmed).  The new characters held their weight, none of them overshadowed by the stories and personalities of the others.  David Weber did an excellent job of making even some of the villain’s motives and motivations understandable… even while showing that they had gone too far.

Later on in the book, however, I did have a few issues with changes of perspective.  At times the perspective in a scene will change from one character to another from one paragraph to the next and then back.  This left me with a sense of whiplash, trying to figure out who was thinking what.  This might be something they’ll edit before the final release, but in one particular case it was not only hard to follow, but left me feeling as if I had missed something.  Very slight spoiler: In some scenes there is a character who is under another guise.  The other characters knew this character by a different name, but in the changes of perspective it would go from the disguised character’s actual name and thoughts, to another character who didn’t know the character’s true identity, and back, sometimes multiple times in a scene.

In all, I enjoyed the book and I’m eager to read the next.  It was excellent to get to see some of the promises made in the earlier books finally fulfilled and I can’t wait to see how the further books in the series progress.  If you haven’t read any of David Weber’s fantasy series, you should get started!

Here’s the publisher summary:

A#1 in a NEW EPIC FANTASY SERIES by 28-times New York Times and international best seller David Weber, set within his Bahzell Bahnakson/War God universe. A swordsman who has been robbed of his past must confront an evil wizard with a world at stake.

Know thyself. Its always good to know who you are, but sometimes thats a little difficult.

Kenhodan has no last name, because he has no past . . . or not one he remembers, anyway. What he does have are a lot of scars and a lot of skills some exhilarating and some terrifying and a purpose. Now if he only knew where he’d gotten them and what that purpose was . . . .

Wencit of Rūm, the most powerful wizard in the world, knows the answers to Kenhodan’s questions, but he can’t or won’t share them with him. Except to inform him that he’s a critical part of Wencit’s millennium-long battle to protect Norfressa from conquest by dark sorcery.

Bahzell Bahnakson, champion of Tomank, doesn’t know those answers and the War God isn’t sharing them with him. Except to inform Bahzell that the final confrontation with the Dark Lords of fallen Kontovar is about to begin, and that somehow Kenhodan is one of the keys to its final outcome.

Wulfra of Torfo doesn’t know those answers, either, but she does know Wencit of Rūm is her implacable foe and that somehow Kenhodan is one of the weapons he intends to use against her . . . assuming she can’t kill both of them first.

But in the far northern port city of Belhadan, an eleven-year-old girl with a heart of harp music knows the answers to all of Kenhodan’s questions. . . and dares not share them with anyone, even the ancient wild wizard who loves her more dearly than life itself.

It’s not easy to face the future when you can’t even remember your own past, but if saving an entire world from evil sorcerers, demons, devils, and dark gods was easy, anyone could do it.

For those of you wanting to find the other books in the series or the book itself I’ve listed them in order with links:

Oath of Swords

The War God’s Own

Wind Rider’s Oath

War Maid’s Choice

The Sword of the South

The Sword of the South eArc