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Helm Mass Market Paperback – February 15, 1999

4 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Helm, Gould spins the tale of Leland de Laal, the young son of a shrewd but minor nobleman on a world far from Earth. Leland, disobeying his father's edict, dons a helm of ancient power, an artifact brought from Earth centuries ago. Gradually, he gains access to knowledge implanted in his mind by the helm, only to find that he is no longer alone in his head. He absorbs the martial-arts discipline of aikido, but before he can come to terms with either his new powers or his growing affection for his overlord's daughter, he is submerged in betrayal and war on many fronts. His homeland's worst enemy seeks the helm, ready to use it to subjugate the world. In this, his third novel, Steven Gould has whipped up a smooth fantasy story, seasoned with science-fictional elements, romance, and a lot of high-kicking action. He continues to explore the coming-of-age theme, as he did in his previous two novels, Jumper and Wildside. --Blaise Selby --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Faced with insufficient resources in their overcrowded shelters, the Moon-based survivors of a war that has rendered Earth uninhabitable send most of their population to establish a colony on a world in orbit around another star. Since these survivors can't spare any technology, they "imprint" the colonists with enough rudimentary knowledge to insure that hygiene and literacy will lead to an eventual rebirth of techno-culture. Flash forward a few hundred years, and the colony is a success, glowing with rustic charm. But there's an apple in this Eden?one of the imprinting devices, which somehow survived transit and is reverently referred to as "the Helm." When teenaged Leland De Laal places it on his head, he unwittingly injects the lost wisdom of the ancients?science, medicine, foreign languages?into his mind. Although Leland's father, Dulan, the Steward of Laal, is then forced to raise his youngest son as his successor, the family's fortunes are overshadowed by the threat of war. Because his father is tough on him, Leland grows into a hard warrior prince, tender enough to fall for the pretty Marilyn de Noram but not shrewd enough to recognize how his enemies scheme to take over the family fortress. The only magic in this amusing mix of SF and fantasy is the disembodied voice that "speaks" in Leland's head, but fantasy fans should enjoy all the pageantry and sword fights that lead to Leland smashing his enemies and reclaiming his heritage.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Science Fiction; 1st Mass Market Ed edition (February 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812571355
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812571356
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,439,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
This novel, while a good story in and of itself, makes your realize the importance of a good editor, or at the least, a good proofreader. Much of it was very good, but its goodness was marred by the countless errors present in the text.

The story itself is an excellent tale of a feudal-style colony of humans descended from those colonists who were sent to this planet after a global catastrophe made earth uninhabitable. Much of the story centers on the politics, interactions and betrayals amongst the nobles, as alliances are formed and broken in the quest to control more of the scant livable land on the planet. The sendentary peoples of the continent prepare for war against the nomadic tribes of Nullarbor, and dark plans are made against friendly nations while their armies are away.

The hero of the story, Leland du Laal, the youngest son of the local ruling noble, has for whatever reason climbed the Needle, a forbidding rock spire, and donned the Helm, which is supposed to be charging in the sun in preparation for Leland's oldest brother to put on. The Helm infuses the wearer with the total of all human knowledge, and was created to help the colonists set up a good colony. After months of punishment, Leland is sent away to study Aikido, and comes back to lead an army against the nomads.

The characters in the story are well drawn out, if not totally believable. The bad guys seem a little too needlessly cruel, in my opinion. Granted, it makes it easier to hate them and root for the good guys, but some of the things they do go beyond simple conquest of a neighboring province. Leland himself is very likeable as a character, as is his second in command, Gahnfeld.
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By Pavel on April 30, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first met up with Gould's writing in Jumper, and loved it. I then read Wildside, and fell in love with the book. Later, I bought both books, found Helm in the library, read it, loved it, and an hour after I finished the book, I bought it.
What I love about Helm, is that I have to keep telling myself that this is NOT medieval times, but about a millenium in the future. I loved the aikido scenes, and the twisting plot. Out of all of Gould's books, this has to be the most vivid and gigantic in terms of the world that Gould has to explain and forsee. I recommend anyone who even liked Helm, to read Jumper, Wildside, and Blind Waves. I myself now have three out of these books, and am thinking of buying Blind Waves.
Good luck to all, and, Mr.Gould, keep on writing!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
After reading 2 of the author's previous books, Jumper and Wildside, and really enjoying them, I had high expectations for Helm -- and fortunately I was not disappointed. Gould drives the plot relentlessly throughout the book. The martial arts parts are highly readable and very entertaining. My only criticisms with the book are 1) as a previous reviewer mentioned, a few of the characters were difficult to delineate from one another early on, but not overly so, and 2) the ending is good, but seems to be lackluster compared to the incredible first 90% of the book. Overall, Helm is a great and fairly quick read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoy most of Steven Gould's books. He has a tendency to delve very deeply into a subject that is technical and introduce the reader to that subject in depth. In this case, the subject is Aikido. I really liked his description of the techniques and his devotion to making sure that the realities of Aikido were well described in the novel. I didn't think the plot was as excellent, though, as his technical description of martial arts and the martial arts way. I thought there were a great number of characters introduced that, at times, were difficult for me to follow (I'm not sure of the reason for this... it doesn't seem like there were as many characters as a series like Game of Thrones, for instance. It might have been something to do with how they were named).

It's worth reading, if for nothing else than the interesting bits about Aikido, it's practices and techniques, and its history.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm a fan of Steven Gould's "Jumper" and "Bugs" series, and recently decided to check out more of his backlist. This novel has an intelligent young narrator, as do his others (one of the things I love about his books), and it has an element of martial arts too. I think more novels could have been set in this world, but it's nice to read a story that is actually contained in one volume.
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I only discovered Gould's writing two months ago, when a friend loaned me a copy of "Wildside". Since then I've bought my own copy of that, as well as "Jumper", "Reflex" and "Helm".

"Helm" is the last of the four that I've read. I put "Helm" off until last after seeing so many 4-star reviews of it. I was concerned that it wouldn't be as good, so I read the others first. It turns out there was no need for concern, as to me it rates right up there with the others.

"Helm" contains the same great character building, same light touches of sci-fi technology (enough detail to explain, not so heavy as to bog it down), great pacing, a good mix of heroes/villains, and the same creative vision.

There were some loose ends left at the end. Not major items that leave you feeling like you missed something, but enough to easily build into a sequel - which I hope happens at some point!

Great read - go get it!
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