I’ve seen this book on several “Top 10 Science Fiction Favorites” lists, so I decided to read it. The Parafaith War is certainly one of the better Modesitt books, in my opinion, even though it’s not quite my style.
The three-act structure and action-oriented narrative fit the hero’s journey plot archetype: Trystin Desoll, our hero, starts out in the planetary perimeter defense corps, becomes a starship pilot, and finishes as a spy on the enemy’s homeworld. Nothing really new there, but just because that three-act structure has become a standard Hollywood narrative doesn’t mean it’s trite. The specifics of the story and the questions it explores were enough to keep me reading.
The aphorism “Long periods of boredom broken by moments of sheer terror” seems to apply to Desoll’s entire career. The tedium and repetition of his day-to-day duties and even his actions during the many battles, whose description often varies only in small details, emphasize the automatic, unthinking responses that Desoll was trained and modified to deliver. That’s part of the reason for the war: the enemy believes that Desoll and his fellow technologically enhanced soldiers are no longer human, while Desoll’s side, the Eco-Tech Coalition, opposes the faith-based culture of the Revenants.
Punctuated with quotations from the Revenants’ Book of Toren, the Farhkan aliens’ Findings of the Colloquy, and the Eco-Tech Dialogues, the story explores Desoll’s unfolding notion that there has to be a better way than military force to solve a problem. The underlying hypothesis that technological and medical advances lead to population growth, which leads to overconsumption of resources, which leads to warfare, which decreases the population, is interesting.
The book also explores the limitations of technology coupled with the wielding of power through technology; the impact of bigotry on the ability to see the humanity of people who think differently; and the hypocrisy of moral absolutes, such as “thou shalt not kill” and “love they neighbor” versus the tendency to kill thy neighbor for religious reasons.
Although The Parafaith War isn’t the kind of science fiction I gravitate toward, the emphasis on battles rather than worldbuilding is likely to appeal to military historians, Civil War reenactors, veterans, and anyone who enjoys military-oriented adventure stories.
Montreal detective Victor Lessard becomes a target as he tries to unravel a complicated quest for revenge that takes him back decades, across 1,500 miles, and into conspiracy theories with ominous implications. As he struggles to put his personal life back together, he and his partner, Jacinthe Taillon, must decide whether they trust each other.
This gritty police procedural, the third in a five-book series, drops clues like breadcrumbs. Michaud’s presentation cleverly provides just enough information to keep the action rolling along but never enough to break the mood of suspense. Readers are cut loose in time and space and largely ignorant of the underlying significance of events; they have to piece everything together just as Lessard does.
The first thing I noticed when I started reading is that this book is not for the faint of heart. From the first gruesome death (which readers experience from the victim’s point of view) to the last, insanity and violence rule the lives of the characters. Alcoholism and drug addiction run rampant, death and abuse are everyday events, forgotten people languish on the streets and in rundown buildings, and friends, family, coworkers, and lovers seem to have little affection for each other.
As the book opens, characters are dehumanized, lacking names and described only vaguely: “the woman with the frizzy grey hair,” “the weather girl,” “the young [female] punk,” “the man [in his seventies.” The process of murder seems inhuman, too; the primary murder weapons are mechanical devices set to discharge when conditions are met, so no killer is present.
The constant slippage in time, space, and point of view becomes dizzying, even overwhelming at times. Nor do the characters provide stability: Lessard is wounded emotionally and physically; Taillon is crude, loud, gluttonous, and deliberately provoking. Nearly all of the detectives have something in their past that makes them act unprofessionally on occasion, which places others at risk.
Yet their dogged persistence, flashes of brilliance, and willingness to place themselves in harm’s way eventually solve the puzzle. Whether they have a life to return to once the work is done is another question.
Because this is a translation, apparently the first in the series to be translated from Quebec French to English, some of the wordplay in the plot may have been lost, and the narrative occasionally seems to have almost but not quite the right word. Still, the story flows smoothly and makes for a good thriller.
The jealousy and desire Arthur inspires among his followers threaten to defeat him as surely as his military setbacks in this third novel in Wilson's series about Britain in the Dark Ages, narrated by the High King's conflicted lieutenant, the berserker Bedwyr. Despite losing a quarter of his troops, Arthur knows his success depends on fighting the just war . . . in the brutal sense of the word in those days: no indiscriminate slaughtering of women and children, only those who take up arms, though starving them out by burning crops and killing livestock is acceptable.
Set in the Old West that was, before America extended past the Mississippi River, this thoroughly researched novel tells a dramatized version of the author's own family history: the Adam Mitchell family.
Only a man who survived the trials and tribulations of the West Point cadets and went on to serve his country as an active-duty officer could write such a brilliant dramatization of the military careers and personal lives of the main characters who people this book: Ulysses S. Grant, Lucius Kosciusko Rumble, and Elijah Cord. By showing us the early events that helped shape them into men of honor, Bob Mayer escapes the trap of simply dramatizing known facts from diaries, letters, and so forth that necessarily plagues historians and biographers of the great Civil War generals. Here he creates an engaging, mostly imaginary account based on facts.
Tupac Amaru, the last Inca emperor, was executed by the conquistadores. But his body does not get to rest in peace: when archaeologists uncover his reburied remains, a graverobber steals the funerary artifacts, in ignorance leaving behind only the death mask. A 30-year-old Marine is among the American undergraduate students at the summer field camp in Peru. His quest to avenge the woman and children murdered by the thief leads him and a friend across the world on a dangerous mission.
I've been meaning to write a review of the Foreigner series since reading #1, #2, and #3 in a single weekend many years ago. Unfortunately, I always get so caught up in the story that I'm unable to focus on the details with a critical eye.
By now, each new book in the series is like Facebook in providing me the opportunity to catch up with old friends: in this case, Ilisidi, Lord Geigi, and Cajeiri (and wondering, for the latter, whether the author will ever let him move on to felicitous nine years old). With kidnappings, attempted assassinations, uneasy alliances, and conspiracies and machinations that would put Jacobean dramas to shame, the series consistently reveals essentials about the human condition--using the alien culture of the atevi.
This paranormal romantic suspense takes us offworld to Harmony, a world colonized by a high-tech futuristic Earth but then cut off from the home planet and reverting back to today's level of technology in a setting that is parallel to our Pacific Northwest. On this new planet, latent psi abilities are common, enhanced by tuned amber. The heroine of this book, Lyra Dore, makes her living, such as it is, by tuning amber, though she also explores the alien ruins and sells relics from them (and has another source of income with great potential, besides).
For several years I reviewed very few books because Amazon got snitty about authors as reviewers. When I read back through those old Amazon reviews, I decided to copy some to my own website and add new reviews that readers may find useful.
Authors Desiring Reviews
Please e-mail me if you want an honest but potentially harsh review and are OK with it being posted here and on Goodreads but not on Amazon. Be warned: I won't read anything that has a lot of grammatical or spelling errors.