As you all know I’m a voracious reader and can easily get through 2-3 books a week.  I have to admit that I’ve managed to increase this consumption recently while I’ve been on holiday and have literally devoured a host of different books and series by multiple different authors.  Unfortunately I’ve not had Internet access (perhaps that had something to do with the volume of books I’ve managed to get through?) so I’ve not been able to tell you all about the different series till now so hopefully you’ll forgive me as I catch up!

One that I just finished yesterday and had to immediately tell you about is the Discovery of the Saiph by PP Corcoran (click the link to pick up a copy from Amazon) … this is one that you should pick up fast as its really, really good and I have to admit had me up quite late turning the pages to figure out what was going to happen next.  I’ve been reading quite a few different series related to Military SciFi & this was one of the better ones for sure & while the blurb itself might not get you through the door – hopefully my recommendation will.

Explore with scientists. Engage with marines. Experience the adventure.

The TDF Marco Polo embarks on its maiden voyage outside Earth’s Solar System leading to the discovery of an extinct civilisation destroyed by orbital bombardment. Deep underground is a mysterious library of alien secrets.

The Terran Republic unravels the clues, forcing its politicians, scientists, navy and marines to engage in an epic journey of space exploration, space battles and combat behind enemy lines. They must rally their forces to defend the Earth as they discover ‘The Others’ are coming…

Do you see what I mean?  There isn’t anything in that [blurb], that would really make you want to pick this book up & in all honesty I only grabbed it because it was free on Kindle Unlimited and I was about to go on holiday and needed some books as backup in case I ran out (by the way, in case you’re wondering I still don’t think Amazon Prime in Canada is worth it but I am making quite good use of Kindle Unlimited that’s for sure!).

**** POSSIBLE SPOILERS ****

I try not to give too much away in my reviews as I think if its worth sharing with you, its worth reading also.  However in this case as the blurb really didn’t say anything I fear I have to give some detail to make you realize why you should read this book so hopefully you won’t mind too much.  I’ll try to keep them at a minimum. 🙂

**** POSSIBLE SPOILERS ****

In the not too distant future mankind manages to perfect faster than light travel.  This isn’t the type of travel you’d expect with wormholes and varying degrees of acceleration but is almost instantaneous for thousands of light years in all directions.  On the maiden voyage their ship detects an artificial signal on a planet and after much investigation they realize that these are the remnants of a long dead civilization.

However this civilization has a connection with humanity as the DNA of the alien species and humanity is almost identical.  We quickly come to realize that while we were not seeded on Earth, our DNA was manipulated in a last ditch effort by the Saif to escape oblivion and destruction and to leave a little bit of themselves behind in their battle with the “Others”.  What they have also left us is a library of information to help bootstrap humanity so that they can survive when the Others come hunting them too!

With some really well described battle sequences and innovative and interesting technology plus characters that you can actually care about, well this is a winner in my books for sure!

What I liked & didn’t like

Overall the characters were quite enjoyable and while one of my major gripes with Weber and his Honor Harrington series was avoided – namely the number of humans that are “in it for themselves” vs the greater good, this time it might be too much the opposite as there seemed to be only one profiteer in the whole story and not only did they find him out very quickly, they removed him from power before he really did any significant damage.  I know I seem really hard to please as either way they’re damned but while I’d love to have a humanity that unified and selfless that almost seems contrary to our nature?  However that being said, some of the key characters are extremely well written and while you’re not engaged with a single character throughout the book you get enough of a feel for their growth and advancement to truly develop a rapport.

The technology while still magic (especially the drive system) is realistic if that makes sense?  You don’t have huge, monstrous ship battles here with hundreds and hundreds of different ships and thousands of missiles flying all over the place.  Battles are more tactical in scope and size and it helps to bring you closer to the action and the damage on individual vessels.  Massive space battles are fun on a computer but sometimes they can become tedious to read about as you don’t generally care about how many ships died on each side – or at least I don’t – and end up flipping forward to read the final tallies of the damage at the end.  This is a fault with Weber in his series the Shiva Option although in that book its done quite well and also Saxon in the Escape to Earth Series where its done not quite as well.  The difference I think between the two is that Weber makes you feel the pain of building all those massive armada’s and fleets as well as the people that fly them, whereas in the Escape to Earth series its simply a matter of reprogramming your “fabbers” and they churn out the desired components day and night!

The enemy forces – the “Others” – initially I wondered how humanity had any chance at all, but once this was explained it started to make sense and I really liked the fact that mankind while technologically sophisticated was by no means the most advanced and in fact this advancement was still not a guarantee of success!  I quite liked the way they were portrayed overall although I definitely look forward to reading and finding out more about them and their antithesis towards other species.

Romance and humour could be added to subsequent novels as while it was portrayed well in this one, it did at times feel a bit dry and sterile.  While this is not an essential by any means it wouldn’t hurt and would only help to further humanize the characters I think.

Overall the pacing was excellent.  I thought it advanced extremely well and I really enjoyed flipping the virtual page to find out what was coming next as I’ve already mentioned.

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Well I’m not sure if you’ve taken my advice and watched this show or not but from this point on I’m afraid I can’t really resist giving you some spoilers as each episode very much does build upon the previous like a Lego tower.

If you recall from my previous post I mentioned that there was a new character introduced into this long running show and that he would change our perceptions of not only the brothers but their fight forever. Well the new character is an angel… literally an angel from heaven! His name is Castiel and he was responsible for raising Dean from Hell. The raising is what caused the explosion around Dean’s grave as I mentioned in my previous post and his voice is what caused the windows to shatter. To say that he has power is to be a little bit less than melodramatic.

Today however the boys have been contacted by Bobby as he needs their help to find out what is killing the hunters around town. Actually all around the state. As the brothers investigate they discover that some of their own ghosts from the past are hunting them also and they don’t know why.

When they finally meet up with Bobby  in the process saving him from some of his own nightmares they investigate some markings that they saw on the bodies of the ghosts and realize that these are the markings of the “witnesses“. This is a sign of the upcoming apocalypse and again goes to explain what Castiel and the other angels are doing now on Earth.

The witnesses all accuse the boys and Bobby that they had the chance of saving them, but they failed and when Bobby does his investigation he realizes that they have literally been driven mad by the spell used to raise them and that is why they have a brand on their hand.

Bobby comes up with a plan to release the witnesses but to do that they all need to escape from the panic room that Bobby has created and they are currently hiding in. Bobby it seems is nothing if not paranoid.

As Bobby is preparing the spell, the brothers search through the house for the ingredients fighting off ghosts in the process and then they have to hold off the ghosts while Bobby completes the spell. Just before Bobby throws the concoction into the fire to activate it, Meg attacks and almost kills him but Dean is able to save the special powder and throws it into the fireplace destroying the ghost.

Later Castiel appears to Dean in a dream and reveals that the rising of the witnesses is one of many – 66 (… I wonder if there is another six in there somewhere that they just haven’t mentioned?) – seals that are stopping Lucifer from escaping hell. Castiel says that they lost six other angels in this battle and that their numbers are not infinite… He indicates that Dean is back for a specific reason and they need to stop what is happening to protect the Earth.

Review

Okay I think I managed to get the most of this episode covered here so whatever I’ve missed I apologize however the one thing I do need to say is that the show … holy cow it’s just getting better and better. I hope you’ve been reading some of the posts that Nia has been putting up you really need to see where they came from to understand how good they are now and its only by looking at their past that this will become obvious. Bobby has always been a solid father figure to both of the boys and Castiel although only two episodes in it’s somebody I really I’m enjoying learning about

One thing I have noticed over the course of seasons is that it seems the power available to the monsters seems to grow… Once upon a time the ghosts were not really able to do physical damage to anyone but over the course of many seasons this has changed.  In this episode you almost feel sorry for the “monsters” as you know that they were in some ways good people and they are acting in the way they are simply because they have been coerced.

When Meg launches into Sam about him letting Ruby run around in different bodies you really see where she’s coming from and do you tend to agree with her to be honest. Hell, Ruby might be helping for whatever reasons she has – which we still don’t really know and you have to wonder what is her real reason and while Sam as I didn’t mention previously in last episodes encounter at the diner is obviously using his powers in the fight against evil… the question of course what is he becoming? And will he be someone on our side or against us?

Escape to Earth is another series that I tried because of Kindle Unlimited and the ability to obtain books for “free”. You might recall my previous post on a similar trial with the series The Human Legion – Marine Cadet?

I guess lets start with my biggest gripe with the books in this series … that’s unfortunately the writing itself.  It’s very stilted and seems forced and while some of the characters are interesting you can’t really engage with them due to the language.  The idea itself isn’t bad & the concept as a whole is somewhat intriguing (I’ll describe that further below), but there isn’t really a flow to the story and while I’ve read through all of the books in this series, that’s primarily because they were free as I don’t think I would have paid for all four books.

Escape to Earth – Running from Fate

As the first book in the series, this is where some of the most intriguing ideas and concepts are put forward and while some of these elements continue to play out in subsequent books, they aren’t given as much weight there.

In the Fellowship a rule exists that a “primitive” planet cannot be contacted unless they develop a stardrive or forcefield.  However when a warrior from one of the races battling in the galaxy is forced to flee, his escape pod determines that the only way he can be kept safe is for him to hide.  His hiding place however just happens to be one of those planets – a planet called Earth!

Transformed by his escape pod so that he mimics a human in shape and form, the Welkin warrior becomes Lukas – a blonde haired, blue eyed 6 foot tall Norweigan.  Smarter, stronger and faster than other humans though, his now human body is impacted by strange and unexpected impulses that cause him to act and react in strange ways.  He also learns all about Love and because of these changes to his system he finds a new home for himself on Earth – one that he is willing to do anything to defend!

Escape to Earth-Fighting for Space

Continuing on from the first book, Fighting For Space has the human’s and their fleets now competing on almost equal footing with the Fellowship despite being overwhelmingly behind in terms of fleet sizes.  However if nothing else, this book and the ones that subsequently follow make the point that “quality has a quantity all its own!” as while they might not have the numbers, they are more than able to make up for this lack.

What doesn’t really seem to be considered however is the fact that 3 dimensional combat is significantly different to 2 dimensional and this would be even more evident in Space where the enemy has the ability to attack from a multitude of different directions – simultaneously.  While Saxon does cover the improvements in technology, he doesn’t spend an undue amount of time on it & it really has the feel of some of the older pulp classic E.E. Doc Smith books where every chapter had another new invention that was better, stronger, faster etc… than the one before.  While somewhat exacerbating, it did help to move the story along, however its one thing when its the alien making all of the advances … its somewhat more annoying when the geniuses are the humans themselves as it always brings up the point – why didn’t they do it before?

Regardless there are many different space battles, but perhaps most importantly this book introduces the real villain of the series which is the attack on our Galaxy by another Galaxy entirely!

 

Escape to Earth-Defending Holy Ground

Continuing on from the previous book, Defending Holy Ground has fleet battles numbering in the million ship range.  While the technology advantage is still on the humans side, the fact that literally a whole Galaxy is contributing forces to the attack vs. a single planet to the defense … well regardless of how good their quality is, in this case, overwhelming quantity wins out.

While some of the fleet battles (at least in size) evoke memories of some of the earlier books by David Weber and its similarities to old classics like Master of Orion the passion isn’t there for the characters and the multitude of ships that are destroyed.

Humans while no longer a defenseless species are still primarily on their own in this fight and bear the bulk of the work.  I think to some extent this would bring up questions of resources as they realistically could not put up fleets of the size they do, with the numbers they have left but its a small point.

Escape to Earth-The Legacy of a Conqueror

Finishing this series, we’re introduced to Lukas’ son and he is the primary character in this final book.  Realizing that humanity can never truly be safe until they take the fight to the enemy Lukas and crew nominate his son as the Conqueror.  The leader of all of humanities forces in their battle against the attacking Galaxy.

With telepathic abilities in addition to super strength, intelligence and speed the only fear is that he might grow to love his new found power too much, however being Lukas’ son and guided by the Sentinels he is able to maintain his humanity enough to find an alternative solution to genocide in several key battles earning humanity even more allies before the climactic battle against the Leaders of the evil Galaxy.

Overall Review

Some good ideas and interesting concepts, but unfortunately the bad writing tends to outweigh them.  While worth reading through Kindle Unlimited or another forum that allows you to “purchase” books for a nominal or free price, I probably would not pay for this series if I had to.

I think I spoke about Kindle Unlimited in a previous post so I won’t go into all of my negatives on it here as you can read about them in that post.  One good thing I will state about it though is that it does help to introduce you to new authors that you might not have read previously and one of these for me is Tim C. Taylor.  Tim has a bunch of books accessible on Kindle Unlimited and the first that I read was Marine Cadet.

In the not too distant future Earth was approached by an Alien Superpower.  In exchange for Earth’s survival, millions of children were sold into slavery to found the Marine Corps.  These “children” without any knowledge of Earth would change/grow and develop over the centuries to come into an enhanced race of warriors – and while most of their enemies see them as nothing more than cannon fodder with third rate weaponry and training, over time that changes.

Marine Cadet tells the story of a young 17 year old boy – Arun McEwan still in the early stages of his Marine training in strange and hostile universe.  We get introduced to several other aliens in this novel and also get a glimpse of Arun’s possible future as the leader of a human rebellion.  However the pace is somewhat slow – especially in comparison to books 2 & 3 – and it seems to take forever for anything of significance to happen.

While part of that is because we’re being introduced to the characters and the whole underlying story its been done better – Old Man’s War by John Scalzi for example has a similar theme.  However that’s probably my biggest gripe with the book to be honest.  The characters are interesting and you definitely want to see what happens to them in the future. You have your usual mix of characters – bellowing Marine Sergeants, bullying peers etc… – but the aliens are a good addition and Pedro especially is quite likeable.

Arun is different to the other marines and while his hormonal impulses do get annoying for an outsider to read, realizing that he is only 17 years old in the story helps to put them into perspective!  While some of the scenes with him are cringe inducing they somehow do make sense.  The idea of “Culling” while also cringe inducing (but for perhaps different reasons) makes sense in the context of this world and for that matter the way that human castoffs are treated by their overseers tends to reinforce this idea even more.

Cover of "Ender's Game (Ender Quartet)"
Cover of Ender’s Game (Ender Quartet)

Weaponry and the suits that the Marine’s use, along with their inbuilt AI is not too far off by any means and don’t seem in any way to be magical.  Even the space drives while they don’t get into the specifics are not warp capable as travel between different stars requires the marines to go into a form of hypersleep for the duration of the journey.

There isn’t anything “new” introduced in this book, however Tim does make it work and while at times the pace can be a bit plodding (as mentioned above), the underlying development of Arun and the rest of his comrades does keep you coming back for more.  I think I’ve already alluded to the fact that this book is different to #2 and #3 – the primary difference being the pace so I’m very glad to see that Tim obviously took into account feedback from his readers.

The battles when they do finally arrive are written well and are extremely believable.  While there is some allusion to a game – similar to Ender’s Game and the mock battles played by the boys perhaps? – this is explored only peripherally and could have probably been expanded upon.  We get some insight into why Arun is so important but this book very much serves as a jumping off point for the volumes that follow as the conspiracy is only lightly touched upon here.

 

Overall recommendation –

By itself I probably wouldn’t recommend this book.  There are others that have the same or similar themes that are written better and have more interesting characters and content.  However taken as a whole – as part of a larger series which this is, yes I’d probably get it.  Especially if you can grab it for free as I did on Kindle Unlimited (well not really free, but you know what I mean).  It’s good enough to get you through to the end and books 2 and 3 are definitely more action packed.