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Personal Agendas: Babylon 5, Book #8 Mass Market Paperback – April 7, 1997


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Product Details

  • Series: Babylon 5 (Book 8)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Dell; 1ST edition (April 7, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440223512
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440223511
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 4 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,602,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Seventy-five human light-years.

When G'Kar thought of it in those terms, as years made of pure light, it somehow didn't seem so far.  It seemed...almost elegant.

But still depressing.

Seventy-five human light-years.

The distance from Babylon 5 to the despised planet Centauri Prime.

And how far was Narn from Babylon 5?

G'Kar knew this intimately: a little over 10 Narn light-years, which equaled...yes, 12.2 human light-years.

He distracted himself with other problems: the calculation of distance in Narn light-years from Babylon 5 to Earth, from Earth to Minbar, from Minbar to Narn...

And then there was another thought that distracted him:

How far was it in light-years from Narn to Centauri Prime?

G'Kar found himself gritting his teeth.

Not at the mathematics, which involved simple calculations and conversions that the former Narn ambassador to Babylon 5 knew all too well.

The problem of the distance between Narn and Centauri Prime was the easiest of all to answer, because the answer involved no mathematics at all.

In fact, G'Kar was able to calculate it now, as he gritted his teeth in pain as the latest lash of the whip (a conventional one, the "electro-whip" being reserved for "special" occasions) held by one of Centauri Emperor Cartagia's pain technicians bit into his back, as the evil emperor himself sat looking at G'Kar with fading amusement from a resplendent red throne.

As the emperor let out a full-fledged yawn, not bothering to cover his mouth, the whip cracked once again, driving hot pain into G'Kar's raw back and making him try even harder to take his mind from the agony by thinking of mathematics problems.

How far was it from Narn to Centauri Prime?

Answer: The distance of hatred.

*  *  *

In the torture room, Emperor Cartagia was bored.

Stifling yet another yawn, he waved his hand at the pain technician and the lashing of the Narn G'Kar immediately stopped.  The proud savage tried to show no emotion, keeping his eyes fixed on the emperor, but Cartagia noted a slight relaxation in his frame, which momentarily lifted the emperor's boredom.  He made a slight motion with one finger, hoping G'Kar hadn't seen, and the torturer immediately cracked his whip once more, making the Narn nearly cry out in pain.

So he hadn't expected it!

Splendid!

But now the Narn stood proud once more, needing no pillory post, merely shackled, refusing to collapse after a solid hour of conventional lashing, and Emperor Cartagia felt boredom crawl into him to stay.

Not bothering to stifle his biggest yawn yet, he waved the prisoner away.

"Take him back to his cell--and don't feed him today," the emperor said, thinking perhaps to drop by later to see how the Narn was faring.

If he wasn't still bored.

As the pain technician bowed and backed away, two imperial guards immediately flanked the former Narn ambassador to Babylon 5, and led him away.

He wouldn't allow himself to be dragged, even with the whipping he had sustained.

Catching sight of the blood lines on the Narn's back, the emperor was suddenly shaken out of his boredom.

He thought of calling the guards back--perhaps even rising from his throne to administer a lashing to the Narn himself.

He began to rise--but then another yawn rose into his throat and he dropped back into the throne.

Bored.

Thirsty.

"More wine!" he cried, as a half-dozen retainers scrambled for flagons to attend to him.

The latest yawn was replaced by a chuckle.  He thought of his uncle, the late Emperor Turhan, who had always seemed so stern in the job.  Why, the old fool had even, on occasion, removed his wig and conducted business in front of others without his hair!

Scandalous!

And stupid!

As if he didn't care about what others thought of him, or the trappings of his exalted position!

As his glass was filled by a lackey, the emperor brushed a hand over his own beautiful and stylishly short (he knew it was stylish because he had come up with the idea himself) fringe of hair.

Why, this was power!

And what good was power without...amusement!

He brought the wine to his lips, tasted, then drank it down.

"Bring me...amusement!" he cried.

And waited for the next act in his daily play.  

*  *  *

A slave is not always a slave.

Five Narns, newly arrived slaves from their mother planet, were led with the ninety others from their slave ship through city streets unfamiliar to them. The manifest that had accompanied them said that all of them, the full ninety-five, were accomplished tunnel workers, good at laying water and sewer lines, but this was only true for ninety of them.

The special five were good at other things.

For a while, the ninety-five stayed tightly together, herded like cattle through unknown streets under light from a strange sun.  Some were spat upon by passing Centauri and crude jokes were directed their way.  At one point, one of the five who were not in truth tunnel workers was hit with something thrown from a building, which hit his cheek.  He did not flinch, and the object did not cut the skin.

The slaves' overseers, looking forward to rest and relaxation before returning to Narn for another shipment of slaves, did their duty just before arrival at the tunnel site where the slaves were to be turned over, but were lax in their count; they counted ninety-six and, fed up with the exercise, decided to wait until after lunch for a second count; after all, one of them laughed, if it turned out there was an extra slave how could they get into trouble?

But when the second count was made an hour later, it was found that there were only ninety slaves, and that five were missing--five whose names somehow turned out to be impossible to trace...

*  *  *

So this was Centauri Prime.

L'Kan was not impressed, and, he knew, neither were his companions.  Compared to what the Narn homeworld had been before the Centauri had first come, the lush forested beauty of a world that was only a memory now, this world was...decadent.

As he walked through the streets in his ragged slave's robe, his tall, burly build making his head stand out over his fellows, he took in the world of Centauri Prime.  The overstated architecture, the rich adornments, the flowing robes and other overdone styles of dress, the flaunting of abundance--all decadent.

L'Kan imagined that it had always been this way.

There was not, however, much time for sight-seeing.  Five Narns unattended by a Centauri slave master would quickly be noticed and reported.

It was time for them to make themselves...disappear.

For they had a mission to accomplish.  

*  *  *

Complications, complications.

Sometimes, even Londo Mollari got tired of complications.

Life, of course, was complications; Londo knew that.  There were the complications of rank, and status, and power.  And there were the complications of dress, and presentation, and cunning.  And there were social complications, of marriage (Londo made a face, thinking of his three wives, Timov, Daggair, and Mariel, whom he referred to as "Famine, Pestilence, and Death").  And there were complications that all of these complications seemed to create.

And then there were the complications that seemed to wait on his breakfast plate each morning: the new complications.

Like today's, for instance.

Like Vir.

"Drinking your breakfast today?" Vir said, not hiding his disapproval.  Londo's protege never failed to annoy him, yet Londo never failed to feel a certain sense of...comfort, almost, when the younger man was around.  He had no idea if his instincts were truly paternal--or if Vir's underlying honesty and decency were merely useful on occasion.

Probably the latter.

With a sprinkle of the former.

More complications...

"Yes, Vir," Londo said, raising his glass in a sarcastic toast to the younger man, "I am drinking my breakfast.  And I may drink my lunch and dinner also--with a few snacks in between."

Vir fairly clucked.  "You need all your wits about you, Londo.  You know it may cloud your judgment--"

"My judgment is fine with or without imbibing!" Londo remarked testily.  "And I do not need you to lecture me!"

Vir gave a disapproving frown.  "It's just that--"

"Stop!"  Londo pushed his glass aside, noting with some satisfaction that it was nearly empty anyway.  "There, I will not drink any more of it.  Does that make you happy?"

Vir, letting his frown soften a bit, responded, "Yes."

"Good.  Then now we can get down to business.  What is it that is so important?"

Rubbing his hands nervously, Vir said, "G'Kar needs to see you in his cell. Immediately.  And alone.  I've taken the liberty of checking his cell for listening or recording devices, and made sure guards loyal to you will be placed around it when you are there."

"And what is so important that I should deign to visit G'Kar in his cell?" Londo asked.

"He said it was very important.  That..."

"Well?"

Vir looked very worried, which was always a clue that further complications were about to emerge.  "He said your plan might be in jeopardy."

"What!"

"H...

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Customer Reviews

2.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Marc Szeftel on October 25, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Why did I bother reading more than one or two chapers of this book? Same reason I used to sit through Gilligan's Island episodes years ago. But wait --- I'm being far too hard on Gilligan. "Personal Agendas" on the other hand has no redeeming value. Not only is it written in a style aimed at fourth-graders, its subplots are designed so that the status quo is preserved and nothing is changed. This is the exact opposite of what Bablyon 5 is about --- characters growing and developing like real people. Skip this one.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 18, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This isn't a book, it is merchandising, and merchandising of such poor quality that it is an insult to the consumer. I feel insulted that I am expected to buy this simply because it has the magic words "Babylon 5" on the cover, and I feel a complete fool because that is exactly what I did. The worst bit is that we are actually expected to regard this is being part of the B5 "canon" - as "really" having happened in the timeline of the show. Sorry, no way. Ivanova in a wig all through season 4? Don't be ridiculous. Quality-wise, this is on a par with really bad fan fiction - except that I can't imagine even the dimmest fan writer getting the characterisations so wrong. In fact, go look on the Web and you'll find stacks of amateur spin-off fiction which is light years better than this. Oh, and by the way, I only gave it one star because the software wouldn't let me give it none at all.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L Gontzes on December 13, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Personal Agendas is the eighth of the original nine Babylon 5 novels. The story is set in 2261 as the Shadow War rages on and G'Kar is held captive on Centauri Prime.
Commander Ivanova, Security Chief Garibaldi, and Doctor Franklin disguise themselves as Centauri jewel merchants and arrive at the Centauri homeworld in an effort to free G'Kar who is held prisoner and is being tortured by Emperor Cartagia. Meanwhile, Captain John Sheridan and ambassador Delenn go undercover in order to shed some light on some shady dealings taking place on B5.
Al Sarrantonio makes use of existing B5 plots and subplots to write this novel. The book is well written and presented, and the reader feels that they are watching another B5 feature film.
Personal Agendas starts off very well catching the reader's interest and attention, and holding on to it until the end. Throughout the book Al Sarrantonio brings to the forefront characters that we have come to know and love in a way that does not sway from accuracy and additionally introduces new interesting characters.
On the downside, the author includes 67 chapters in a total of 212 pages, which does not make much sense, nevertheless, that is a minor flaw considering the overall enjoyment that one gets out of the book. Other reviewers criticized Ivanova's shaved head (for this expedition) and her wearing a wig once back on B5, however, it should be noted that the author does not specify how long she has to wear it; there must be inducers that allow for rapid hair growth in the mid-23rd century, which would mean that she would not have to wear it for too long.
In short, with the main series over and as we wait to hopefully see some more (and much better) Lost Tales or another B5 spinoff, thank goodness for the novels. More novels please...
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mitch Obrecht on August 3, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In the cosmic scheme of things, this is Babylon 5's "Way to Eden" .... a piece of drivel so profound it should never have even touched paper. The *ONLY* reason to have a copy of this trash is to complete your babylon 5 collection. and even then, put it as far to the back of the shelf as you can.
The longest chapter in the "book" is about 3 pages. The publisher - by formatting the book slightly differant - could have shortened this to approximately 80 pages, just by having all the chapters edited together, so that instead of having a chapter that is about 10 lines long (and I'm serious here) then almost a full blank page, and going to a new chapter on the next page.
The writing is - at best - sophomoric. What was the point of the james bond theme, other than to stretch out what would have made a passable short story into a borefest?
I'm still trying to figure out how someone with the writing style shown here could have possibly won an award for anything ... yet according to the back cover he has won a number of them. Perhaps he was suffering from something during the writing process ... or was pushed for a deadline and only had an hour to write it?
One more thing. What was the point of Lyndisty? <rolling eyes>
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Werrf (Werrf@AOL.com) on June 28, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is not a Babylon 5 book. Aside from the names, locations and background, this has nothing to do with my favourite TV series. The characters are total inventions - I didn't recognise any of them - and it has no regard for the continuity of the series.
It'd be okay as a stand alone novel, totally unconnected with anything else, but as a Babylon 5 novel, it falls down badly. My suggestion: If you're a B5 fan, look somewhere else. If you're just looking for a bit of light entertainment that you can pick up and put down at a moments notice, give it a go.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Geoff Loker (gloker@isgtec.com) on July 21, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Quality control really fell down here. This is only superficially a part of the Babylon 5 universe. There is no concern for continuity with the series, there is no concern for preserving characterization, and the general quality of writing is poor at best. I can't decide if this book or "The Touch of Your Shadow, the Whisper of Your Name" is the worst supposed Babylon 5 book.
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