|Submitted by Michael Shortt |
(Jan 04, 2009)
In Conquest Born (ICB) is quite possibly the most moving SF book I have ever read. The intricacies of plot, setting and characterization still continue to impress me each time I reread it (twice so far) and never seem to lose their subtleties. The most similar books I can think of are George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series: both works emphasize grand political/military strategy, but tell their stories through the perspective of powerful individuals.
Although ICB revolves around the intimate duel of two protagonists, one Azean and one Braxanà, you never lose sight of the greater conflict and minor characters are superbly interwoven with the main narrative. CS Friedman also deserves accolades for creating two of the most alien, yet credible, SF cultures I have ever encountered. They’re on par with the Fremen from Dune, and are probably more interesting because ICB has no absolute heroes or villains. I suspect most readers will identify with one stellar empire or the other (in my case, the Holding) but will be capable of understanding the motivations of both.
My only criticism, and it's a mild one, is that the Azeans seemed a tad underdeveloped compared to the Braxins/Braxanà, and as a result, were less compelling (to me at least). I am also a little confused about the climax of the book, but that is probably a result of my reading skills, rather than Friedman’s writing. If you feel like explaining it, send me an email!
I cannot recommend this book more highly, as it stands apart from Friedman’s other novels and SF literature as a whole. Despite its garish cover art, I could not put it down, even in public!