Friday, 18 November 2016
The Span of Empire
This is the third novel in the Jao series, the first two novels in the series I reviewed here and here. I bought the The Course of Empire on a recommendation that it had interesting aliens. Given I'm writing a bunch of aliens where my Beta reader said I could do with upping my game, I gave it a go and fell in love with the story. The sequel, The Crucible of Empire, hit all the spots, but K. D. Wentworth who brought so much to the series died fighting cancer. Therefore, this third volume David Carrico has to take the torch and carry it forward.
From listening to the Baen podcasts I know that Carrico wanted to do justice to Wentworth's characters, but I inferred from what he said that he needed the freedom to do his own thing. Without giving away any spoilers, what we see in this story is the addition of new aliens, a nice expansion of the Ekhat position, and as a result a culling of those characters that weren't driving the plot forward. I was also left wanting more, which is always a good sign in a series. This story felt fresh and has the potential for some real plot fireworks when forces collide. Recommended.
For me the take away was the aliens, and this book and another I will talk about next time are making me rethink my portrayal – description of and interactions with – the aliens in my second novel, which I'm currently working through to address the deficits in my story telling.