Customer Reviews: Ep.#6 - "Head of the Dragon" (The Frontiers Saga)
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on April 22, 2013
As a single book this book leaves you feeling unfinished. It does not end at a natural point, leaving more open issues than completed. So I am going to take an unusual step for me and review the first six books in mass, because they lead to a satisfactory climax. Although, the series is obviously poised to continue into new territory. The series reads like a series of comic books, each a struggle and battle between the hero and evil villains. But the true climactic battle with of one of the arch villains does not occur until book six. Prior to this the heroes fight his henchman in battles limited to a non conclusive scope.

The book is somewhat formulaic in it's creation of a crisis where the senior officers are killed and a junior officer fresh out of military academy must step into the captains role. But this formula is used often because it works. It is exciting and allows the reader to empathize with young men and woman thrust into the maelstrom.

Since I found the series late, I simply bought all six of the first books and read them straight through. This was only acceptable because the kindle price is fairly reasonable. Had I bought these as paperbacks I would have given up on the first novel as too short, inconclusive, and not worth the price. The publisher should consider issuing a compilation of the novels. Like the Lord of the Rings, reading just one of the books in the series is nonsensical, you must read them all or none (although, I do not mean to imply this series quality approaches the Lord of the Rings series).

I love military science fiction. I would suggest reading David Weber, Eric Flint, Tolkien, Raymond Feist, Christopher Nuttall, Mike Sheffield, David Sherman, Thoman Deprima, B.V. Larson, Ilona Andrews, Marcus Twyman, Kennedy Hunter, etc....But as I have devoured all their publications I continue to search for the next prolific author. Ryk Brown is not yet to their quality, yet, but he has potential.

These books are fast paced, escapism. Do not attempt to read into the novels; they are what they are, simple entertainment. Like the comic books of your childhood you can empathize with the sizzle and boom, while not questioning the underlying assumptions too hard.

The newly created captain must fight an evil empire. In this case the added complexity is to fight one in the isolated fringe of the galaxy, then the requirement to return and single handed save the Earth from another. Only his ship and his crew has the miraculous jump drive which gives him the maneuverability to overcome frightful odds. Like Star Trek it is also a good thing all the aliens are humanoid and their language can be readily translated into english.

So don't look for a deep philosophical novel and don't expect to find reading the first novel in a vacuum to be at all satisfying. If however you can gulp down all six of the first novels (and they are not very thick) you will feel more satisfied. These books are not a gourmet literary repast, instead approaching a McDonald burger, very adequate and filling, but not immensely memorable.
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on February 10, 2013
Just finished "Head of the Dragon" of the "Frontiers Saga" Series. Amazing series that just keeps getting better. I am a broad spectrum SciFi reader from Wells to R. Heinlein to S.S.Tepper to Vonnigut. Each one for their own style and how they fill my needs as a obsessive reader. Ryk Brown is added to that list of favorites and has come to the head of my Adventure SciFi list. His characters are real and in-my-head. I was not a major fan of "battles" but Brown has me enthralled and addicted. He covers it all and he does so keeping a normally mellow reader emotionally engaged and at the edge of his chair. The mark of a artist is to transcend their medium to the emotional. A good book becomes a video in the readers mind and this, Ryk Brown accomplishes with true skill. I finish his books and spend the next few hours with thoughts and adrenaline still racing. "Head of the Dragon" just keeps that fire burning. I like continuing series but get bored when carried to long or they do not move forward with the understood and promised goals of the original plot line. Ryk Brown is like a laser, on track, honest in his tenacious hold on the story line and racing towards a goal line that I am not ready for him to cross yet. His books promise and then follow thru. When it comes to Adventure, plot and well developed characters you will not be disappointed. He is the "read" we all look for in this genre: Fast, engaging and satisfying. There is no place on earth you can have this much fun at this price. Grab a chair, something to drink and strap in for a great ride.
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on January 9, 2016
At this point I'm well and truly invested in the Frontiers Saga series. I've enjoyed all the books up to and including this one. Nathan (the Captain) is now a confident and comfortable commanding officer. Cameron (the XO) is more rounded and likable. Most other characters remain as they have been since book 2 or 3 which isn't a bad thing as they add their own part to the series. We learn the final parts of the story about Tug and his friend Mr. Dumar.

The main characters in focus throughout this book are Nathan, Cameron Josh, Loki and Captain Waddell. Tug features in this book but rather than being present throughout you are just aware that he is playing an important role. The story is almost entirely taken with the invasion of Ta'kara. It's well paced and events are quite clear though the action jumps around quite a lot in the closing chapters. I ended up staying up until 1am to finish the book, it was just too gripping and suspenseful to put down. Events and character storylines are concluded well, though some felt a little rushed. However there's so much happening in the story / series, with so many characters it would be impossible to fully develop everyone. There's plenty of room for characters to have their own storylines in later books or standalone series (if that's something Ryk Brown is considering). My only gripe is Sergeant Wetherly didn't feature at all in this book which just seems odd, still I didn't realise he was missing until I'd finished the book. It doesn't detract at all from the overall story.

If you read up to book 5 you know you're going to buy this book. It concludes everything that's happened in the Pentaurus Cluster and begins a new storyline. It's highly enjoyable and will keep you reading for hours. So go on. You know you want to, it's just 1-click.
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on March 12, 2016
Ryk Brown puts you in the Captain's seat of a Faster then Light space ship as it battles evil dictators and saves civilizations from enslavement. Character development is superb and interaction among the crew reflects how a normal crew would react if, say, they were on a Navy ship on Earth. The book is one in a series that you just can't wait for the next installment to go on sale. I constantly found myself saying, ":Just one more chapter..."
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on April 11, 2015
One word sums up this installment: WOW!!!!!! I love the universe that Brown has created - the characters are likeable and have their strengths and weaknesses. The working relationship between Nathan and Cameron is great - Nathan's weaknesses are off-set by Cameron as she helps him consider things that haven't occurred to him - they work together in tandem. Nathan goes from strength to strength as he accepts the challanges of command, including decisions that may cause collateral damage. The plotting is good with unexpected surprises that had me saying: 'no way'. The complex battle action is edge of your seat stuff and I promise you I had to think about breathing because my heart was in my mouth expecting at least a handful of my favourite characters was about to breathe their last. Highly recommended read.
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on February 20, 2013
I was really looking forward to this book, hoping for the big showdown with the emperor, and while it does that, it just lacks dramatic tension. It was easy to put down. It would have benefitted from an additional storyline to let us get to know the villain, like in ep 4 which I loved. Bottom line, it was boring at times, and I still can't figure out how all the decks and air locks and flight apron are actually laid out.

The author does a good job of avoiding smutty sex and anti-Christian themes.
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on December 9, 2015
I cant say there were a lot of surprises. I saw the Tug thing coming a long time ago. He wasn't the exact person I thought he was going to be but I was withing the same family with my prediction. Still, there was a lot building up to this book and it was good to finally have some completion after being tossed around so harshly through the first five. Ryk's books are a joy to read.
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on February 4, 2015
There are times while reading these books that I am annoyed by the repetitive nature of the combat lingo but the pace of the action usually makes up for it. There is a lot of well thought out military tactics and logistics with intricately detailed battle scenes both in space and on the ground. The fairly obvious secret of one character was finally revealed but I would say that character depth and development certainly take a back seat to to action and pacing. Looking forward to the next installment while hoping for an ending to the series to be in sight.
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on February 11, 2013
This is a highly improbably story with a very young group of main characters manning the Earth Starship Aurora. The ship has been blasted from the Solar System while testing a new "jump drive" for Earth space forces. The Aurora encountered two hostile Jung ships while on their test mission. When one self-destructed while the Aurora was in a "jump", the Aurora and her crew found themselves 1,000 light years from Earth in another system. It just so happens that the Captain and every senior officer on the Aurora were killed during the jump. Now, the only survivors are junior officers with little to no space experience having just recently jointed the Aurora or just out of the Academy. So, they do what every junior office wants to do and that is promote themselves into the vacant senior officer positions!

Young Lieutenant Junior Grade or Ensign (I can't remember which) formerly the ships pilot now finds himself thrust into command of what's left of the Aurora. Not only is he now the Aurora's Captain but he also finds his ship and crew in the middle of a civil war and his ship has just aided the rebel cause! So, instead of getting the heck out of the fight and finding how to get home, this young Captain joins the rebellion against the current Empire and becomes a central figure head.

Ok, so if you can accept the story that every singe senior officer about the Aurora died jumping 1,000 light years, and none of the junior officers were hurt very badly, you should be well prepared to read the rest of the story. The young crew of the Aurora begin making decisions about what they should do with surprisingly little emotion and a lot of ignorance about what they are getting themselves into. Still, it's a fun read. Everything happens pretty fast in this book. They all sit down somewhere on the ship and decide what to do next, work out the details and then Captain Scott tells them to do it. And off they go. Whether it's to attack an Empire ship that is fully armed with a seasoned crew and an experienced Captain or attacking a well fortified Empire camp on another world, they put a plan together and go do it. Simple as that. People get killed, equipment and stuff get blown up but there's always the same nucleus of Aurora crew that never get killed nor hurt very badly in any of their battles. The ship gets battered quite a bit but even blowing great big holes in it's sides doesn't seem to stop if from jumping around from one place to another. And, no one on the Aurora knows how the "jump drive" works or why. It just does.

After six books you'd think this story was coming to an end. It does seem to do that. Everything gets tidied up at the end and the Aurora crew gets ready to depart back to Earth. But, there's a 7th episode entitled, "The Expanse" whatever that means.

I like these books for the pure entertainment value. I don't think any of this story is in any way plausible but hey, it's science-fiction. Good writing and good story.
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on November 6, 2014
I have to admit that I am hooked on the series. I have now read six of the series and will continue to read all of them. My only complaints are there is too many repeat explanations of what is being done at that particular time. For example; How many times do we have to be told that the screens dim when they jump and why? Also too much detail over every single movement. I find I am skipping paragraphs sometimes out of boredom with the dialogue. This is not to say that I don't like the story it's just gets over done from time to time. If you are reading this review you have already read the previous 5 and obviously are more than likely will continue.
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