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April 6th, 2005, 11:30 PM #16Originally Posted by FicusFan
I sort of thought that if you weren't vaporized, your military service elevated you. I wouldn't imagine everyone gets elevated, say, a common person. The military is service to the Empire, and as such counts toward elevation. Perhaps the only way many common people can be elevated...it's just a very risky way to go about it. You can die doing that. That's just my take on it. It seems that it's another of those things about his world that he didn't adequately explain.
Which is probably my biggest gripe about these books. There seem to be many things that he just doesn't explain well enough for me. There are many questions about his world that are left too open for me to feel that he really had a sense of what he was doing....unless TOR did a hack job on it editorially in addition to splitting it up into two......
"Sluff" comes up on Onelook in several dictionaries.
And it certainly didn't really remind me of space opera. More military sci-fi, as that's about all that's happening in most of the book. The War Council stuff is about all else that happens, and that ends up being so minor in page count (even though it's more important in a lot of ways to the overall story) as compared to the Lynx stuff that it seems he really would rather focus on the military aspect of it than anything else.
And Ficus, are you and I playing a waiting game to see who goes in for the Fantasy discussion first? I've been waiting on you to kick things of there.
April 7th, 2005, 01:31 AM #17Originally Posted by Erfael
The problem with assuming that military service itself makes you elevated, is then it would be a pretty common occurance and, for a military person no big deal. Yet the book starts with the political people and the Emperor throwing a big bash for Zai because he was a hero and had been elevated for being a hero - when from the offhand way they treated their battle casualties (elevated) it was more like part of a military pension. You don't trumpet a pension, it makes you look silly.
And there were gunners and engineers and pilots and marines who died and some were revived and some where beyond it, but nobody said no because they were too lowly or just died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don't think its that SW didn't explain, its that he never thought about it in the first place. Like the whole entanglement facility idea that was never really refined properly.
Well Erf, I have tonight been working on my fantasy book post, but I am not finished and have to put it off again. Its late and I need to sleep.
April 7th, 2005, 01:27 PM #18
Well, I finished the book and it didn't leave a very strong mark on me. It was not a bad book, and in fact, there were passages I thought were good. On the whole, it seemed somewhat disjointed.
This is the second Book Club in a row (after the much more disappointing Sunshine) where I've been let down. Hell I wanted to enjoy The Risen Empire, I voted for it and bought The Killing of Worlds as well. I don't feel overly compelled to read tKoW, though.
I though Oxham's character was probably the most realized character in the book, and I thought the passages focusing on her and the Emperor were pretty good.
I can't point to the book and say it was terrible, but I also can't really love the book either. It was just sort of there and took up time.
April 9th, 2005, 09:08 AM #19
I've read The Risen Empire and am about half way through The Killing of Worlds. I'll start off by saying that I'm generally not the biggest fan of Space Opera, and I can't say this book has converted me. Having said that though its been entertaining enough to keep me reading. I'm enjoying tKoW a fair bit more than tRE - I felt tRE took a fair while to gain some real momentum. A lot of that has to do with Tor's cutting the book in half, which has been commented on a fair bit so I'll just add my name to the list of people that think it's criminal and in this case, almost suicidal. To be honest if I hadn't heard that it was really one novel cut in two and tKoW was was a reasonable pay-off, I certainly wouldn't have bothered continuing. I'm not sure that tRE is strong enough to hold up on it's own.
It's got some nifty ideas in it and a few interested characters. I agree with most of the comments that have already been made, especially the one about the POV chapters being too short. It makes it hard to really get interested in a few of the characters and stalls the momentum in a few places, the good side of it though is that the couple of dull characters get brushed over relatively quickly.
Hopefully I'll have some more comments to make when I finished tKoW.
April 11th, 2005, 02:49 AM #20
- Join Date
- Feb 2005
- Texas, USA
Well here's my first book club post. Just a warning, I'm a sci-fi newb, so I don't really have much to compare this book to. Anyways, here goes.
I have to say that the idea of space operas intrigue me. I love the Star Wars universe, and rather enjoy the Star Wars novels. They aren't the best novels out there, but are entertaining. As a result, I decided that The Risen Empire would be a great pick.
I picked it up about 3 weeks ago, and was so excited to dive in. I started reading that evening, and it just didn't catch me. Now I know lots of books take a while to get into, but for some reason I wasn't modivated to continue at all after that first night reading. So I threw it aside and read other books.
Finally this past Thursday I picked it up again and decided to give it another try. After getting past the beginning, which was a bit confusing at first, I actually really began to enjoy the story. I thought lots of the different aspects of each culture, both the Rix and the Imperials was pretty neat. Still, I agree with lots of the people on here that the story seemed a little disjointed and just kind of blah.
It was interesting, yet it was nothing to write home about. Still, it did keep me entertained enough to keep reading to the end. I will agree with everyone else that it is pretty lame that TOR split the book into two, but hey thats capitalism for ya. I dont think the book was good enough to justify another purchase, so I'm going to pick up The Killing Fields from the library here over the next few days. I still want to have the story resolved for me. All in all, just an average read for me. I don't regret taking the time to read this, as lots of the aspects of the story impressed me, but its not a book I'll ever go the extra mile to recommend to a friend or read again.
April 11th, 2005, 03:55 PM #21
Well, having finished "Killing of Worlds" now, I have to agree with the sentiment around here that this is all pretty average. It was OK, not terriblly bad, nor terribly good. I was a little disappointed when the Big Secret was revealed; I had hoped that it would be something a little more Earth-shaking. Iit seemed a little prosaic to me. And frankly, even at the end the story it still didn't fully resolve. After all,
Spoiler:Alexander is still out there, headed for Home, not having fulfilled his potential at all, same with Commander Zai.
It almost seemed like there should be a third book, but I don't think I would read it if there was one.
Did it seem to anyone else that the Emporer character was sorely under-developed? As really the main antagonist of the story, he didn't get a lot of face time, and almost nothing about his character was shown. That was a big oversight, I think.
BTW, I understand now about the relay station & why Alexander needed to get there. That was actually pretty cool, and it took me by surprise.
One more quibble: how many times can Zai's ship escape from certain death before it gets unbelievable & annoying? About three. Six or seven was really pushing it too far. For a little while I was almost rooting for it to finally be destroyed, just to put it out of its misery. This sort of plotting might have been OK in the serial pulp era ("Tune in next week to see how the amazing ship surives THIS attack!") but it got on my nerves a little bit once I was into the second book.
April 12th, 2005, 06:29 AM #22
I have to agree with your comments Achren. In his defense though, I read somewhere that he just wanted to write the book he would have loved to read as a teenager so for what it is, it's a pretty reasonable effort. I think when comparing apples with apples it fares decently, but when comparing it with the whole gambit of fruit selections available one can probably find something more attuned to ones tastes.
April 12th, 2005, 11:57 AM #23
That's a really fair assessment, emohawk. And I think that if I had read this when I was segueing from the classics (Asimov/Clarke/Heinlein) to the moderns I probably would've liked it a lot.
Admittedly, I still liked it. I've got a big soft spot for space opera (am enjoying Walter Jon William's Dread Empire series and am a big fan of Elizabeth Moon's Serrano series) and this fit in quite well. I bet you anything that if I hadn't been writing about it for the book club & hadn't been thinking about it so analytically I would've read it; thought "well that was light & fun" and then moved on with my life.
April 15th, 2005, 02:59 PM #24
I just finished KOW.
My main motivation to read it was that the ending of the first book was such a painful cliffhanger.
If you disliked the The Risen Empire you must read KOW. Although it does not rise above the same old sci-fi novel, it does make the read worth the while.
I would give The Risen Empire a 5.0/10.0 but KOW pushes the whole story to a 7.5/10.0
I agree that the battle at the beginning of KOW was a bit long. By the middle of KOW I actually enjoyed jumping around into different character's minds. For example one chapter is about Laurent Zai. Something happens and you start to wonder what Hobbes thinks of it. The next chapter is from her viewpoint which solves your wondering.
I predicted what Alexander wanted the entanglement facility for. But once he got it, I thought he would become much more aggressive.
I liked the relationship between H_rd and Rana.
I disliked the empire's secret. I knew that the secret would tear the empire apart, but I thought it would be something more dramatic.
If Westerfeld was trying to write a story that he would have liked reading when he was growing up, he succeeded. If you compare this story to the old classics, this story fits right in. Clashing cultures, FTL transmittions, AI, war, and a love story(on many levels).
April 15th, 2005, 10:18 PM #25
You know I think even less of Westerfeld after hearing his rationalization for writing a sub-standard book. The book wasn't sold with an "Excuse me, just kidding: Simulated SF Product Within' sticker on the cover.
If he was motivated by books he read when he was younger, great. If he wanted to recreate it fine, but do something worthwhile. There is a whole new take on Space Opera that is being done, and there is no reason he couldn't have tried to take his past influence and worked out a good story.
He did have some interesting ideas and set some good hooks for perhaps meatier bits of the story, but he just abandonned it all. The announcement that he did it on purpose just adds insult to injury.
March 28th, 2007, 02:19 PM #26
- Join Date
- Oct 2006
- Vancouver, Canada
A fine half a book with a lot of imaginative elements that ultimately fails to satisfy on a number of levels. I found Risen Empire to be one of the most inventive novels I've read in terms of the alien worlds created - the two warrings races were particularly well detailed. If only Westerfeld had given us real, fleshed-out characters, this could have been a truly great book. I mean half-book. The only character with any depth whatsoever was Nara. Everyone else was a cypher. Things happened to them and they certainly displayed emotions (Hobbes sad and humiliated when she realizes Zai is in love with someone else; Zai as happy as a 12 year old when he finds out Nara cares enough about him to suggest he not commit suicide), but they felt like flat constructs going through the motions - Zai in particular, a by-the-book military man who does a complete about-face on everything he knows for the love of a woman. Really? So much of the interaction between the various individuals in this demi-novel felt forced, a necessary going-through-motions, while the author spends chapters upon chapters lovingly delineating the various battle sequences.
Still, lots of great, very interesting ideas that engaged me on an intellectual level not unlike a good issue of New Scientist (with the last three pages containing the conclusions to the various articles missing). If it had engaged me on an emotional level, I might have even picked up the back half.
Finally, and if anyone could answer my personal curiosity as it would satisfy my questioning the author's ability to actually write a well thought-out story: at half-book's end, why do Hobbes and Zai go through the trouble of concocting the elaborate faux assassination scenario? Wouldn't it have been easier (and less dangerous though, admittedly, not quite as narratively exciting) to simply arrest the mutineers?
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