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A Talent for War

af Jack McDevitt

Andre forfattere: Se andre forfattere sektionen.

Serier: Alex Benedict (1)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1,1573612,639 (3.71)70
Christopher Sim changed mankind's history forever when he forged a rag-tag group of misfits into the weapon that broke the alien Ashiyyur. But now, one man believes Sim was a fraud, and Alex must follow the legend into the heart of the alien galaxy to confront a truth far stranger than any fiction.
  1. 00
    The Ship Who Searched af Anne McCaffrey (kerravonsen)
    kerravonsen: If you like SF, adventure and archaeology, you could like this book too. The Ship Who Searched is more character-driven than A Talent For War, and the archaeology is less central to the plot, but it is still there.
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Viser 1-5 af 36 (næste | vis alle)
I got interest in the third book in the series, "Seeker" and since I did not want to spoil the whole series, I picked up book number one, "A Talent for War".

This book is about Alex Benedict, an antique salesman in the year 3000 something. He learns that his uncle, and backup parent, the archaeologist Gabriel Benedict has been lost in an accident and he is the sole heir of a fortune. Among the fortune is also a recording, telling Alex about the quest Gabe was on when he died and Alex decides to pick it up.

All this happens in a universe populated by two intelligent species. The humans and the mutes. While at peace now, the quest leads Alex to the interplanetary war 200 years earlier.

Much of the book is universe building and story telling, but there is also action. Had this book been published after Dan Brown's books or Steve Berry's books I would have said that it seemed inspired by them. Now it may actually be the other way around, though more likely there is a whole genre of mystical thriller books. This just happens to be in the future. With aliens. ( )
  bratell | Dec 25, 2020 |
This was totally not what I expected. The title suggested some sort of space opera full of battle scenes and heroic commanders battling ruthless and powerful genocidal alien invaders. Actually, it's about the *historiography* of such an invasion, not the invasion itself. That may sound academic and pretentious, but it's not at all. It's about the protagonist discovering what really happened long ago.

There's a well-known history of what happened in the great alien invasion, like the stories we tell about the founding of our own nation. Every schoolkid knows the story, and dramatists have spun the tales a thousand different ways. But the protagonist's uncle, a space archaeologist, has been investigating a few anomalies. Then the uncle dies in a tragic accident, leaving our protagonist Alex Benedict to inherit an estate and a few intriguing facts that don't quite add up. Sadly, the uncle's notes are entirely missing; all Alex Benedict knows is that his uncle was on the trail of something big. Surely there *must* have been more going on two hundred years ago, or else those people would not have done what they did.

I usually don't have to pay close attention to the story to follow it, but I found I could not read this novel in short segments just before I fell asleep, because I missed too much and couldn't keep the multitude of names straight. This story may not make much sense unless you concentrate, at least in the first few chapters. But the history was intriguing enough that I wanted to understand it; I actually wound up rereading the first few chapters several times, something I don't think I've done for many years.

The characters in the novel's present themselves are not particularly interesting. Frankly, they're kind of flat, and I didn't care about them or particularly want to make their acquaintance. And like so much fiction, it has the obligatory love interest(s) in the present which basically have almost zero to do with the story. Mercifully, this is only peripheral to the investigation, which kept it from being too annoying.

But if the characters in the story's present are flat, the characters whose history they are investigating are anything but. They are inspiring. They have by far the most memorable and best lines in the book. They are the ones who are flamboyantly larger than life. And the past is where most of the mystery lies, too.

Basically, this is an ok thriller in the novel's present, bolted on to a really, really intriguing investigation of the past. What kept me reading was not that I cared what happened to Alex Benedict in the present; I wanted him to get through his difficulties in the present to learn what really happened to those people in the past.

The mystery's solution at the end is quite satisfying; all the anomalies suddenly fall into place, and it makes sense in a way that I never would have predicted. And if the war heroes are deconstructed into something less impossibly heroic, they are not merely deconstructed; they are reconstructed as something more human, and more real, and maybe more solid. Those characters come alive in a way that all the dramatists with their not-quite-true stories could never bring out.

All in all, this was totally not what I was expecting, and I was very pleasantly surprised. ( )
1 stem garyrholt | Nov 5, 2020 |
4.5 stars. This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's certainly mine. It had all my favorite things: evocative descriptions of alien planets, space archaeology, mysteries, library research, ancient space battles, intelligent analysis of how public opinion is swayed and changes, and characters I cared about.

It sometimes got a bit too muddled and complicated for my taste (had to rewind the audio and keep track of all names and places mentioned in order not to get lost), and sometimes it felt very "80s", but I didn't really mind that.

Its particular strengths (for me) were the sleuthing, the labyrinthine mystery being uncovered, and how smart it was when thinking about war, history-writing and public opinion.

I'm rounding down from 4.5 because you need to be the kind of person who both enjoys reading kind of slow, character-focused mysteries that involve a lot of library research and trying to make sense of and connect various old documents and witness accounts, *and* the kind of person who likes tense action scenes to really enjoy this. In addition, this was very smart and the author's thoughts on wars and culture clashes (here with an alien species) were really insightful, so it grated a little bit when occasionally, it seemed as if the secondary character was being particularly dense. I've heard this improves in future books, so I'm really looking forward to them. ( )
  Evamaren | Sep 12, 2020 |
This just might be some of the most creative Space Opera You've Never Heard Of. Or maybe you follow the Nebulas, the best SF nominated by other SF/F authors, and you recognize that this is fan service for and by the professionals of the field, and so praise from these people usually means that the writer has Talent.

Talent for War, or not, I have to agree in pretty much all particulars. What struck me right off the bat was the heavy elements of Mystery lit. It's solid as hell, in fact.

It's merely a strange coincidence that there's models for human minds in VR environments, FTL travel, space battles, and quite alien aliens. It doesn't change the fact that this is a good mystery. Murder is only a part of it. It has a much larger scope when it becomes a post-mortem of an old heroic battle full of buried secrets, espionage, and a complete rewriting of our future history. (Or will it be?)

We get to relive the past thanks to the future tech, but both portions of the story, whether it's with Alex, our MC, or Sim, the man who would be an iconoclast traitor. Both were fascinating.

But what made this space opera really special? The details. There are so many little quirks of the universe thrown in, from classic (and nonexistent) paintings to truly delightful worlds full of hidden mysteries. As an adventure, there's so much to get lost in and wonder about. As a mystery, the details drag you right into the tale and make you believe. :)

At least, that's what it did for me. I'm not a huge fan of space opera in general, but I ALWAYS appreciate a smart tale written smartly, and this falls under that category. It isn't overfull with overused tropes, thank the universe, but it may seem slightly slow to some fans of a certain sub-genre of the SF field because it *mostly* reads as a post-mortem on old battles, from tactics to strategy, with all the reversals of fate and the surprising revelations that the "official" records have squashed. I clicked with it because I like to dig under the surface of things, too, but in this, it's doubly fascinating because of the sheer amount of layers we get to uncover.

It's a work of Imagination and care, and that's no joke.

I was warned that I might find this slow, but thankfully, it turned out to be just my speed. :) I'll take depth AND breadth any day. :) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
The second novel in the book 'Hello out there'. Is a good read. The other novel is 'Hercules Text'. ( )
  scottshjefte1 | Sep 6, 2019 |
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Christopher Sim changed mankind's history forever when he forged a rag-tag group of misfits into the weapon that broke the alien Ashiyyur. But now, one man believes Sim was a fraud, and Alex must follow the legend into the heart of the alien galaxy to confront a truth far stranger than any fiction.

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