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The Elysium Commission Hardcover – February 20, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Modesitt's action-packed space opera–cum–hard-boiled detective story (after 2006's Soarer's Choice) stars Blaine Donne, retired special operative who solves problems for the wealthy by day and fights crime by night on the planet Devanta. While tracking down missing heiresses, checking on a pal's patent infringement case and doing a background check on a client's granddaughter's unsuitable fiancé, he discovers connections among several commissions. Blaine's pal ends up dead, and Blaine realizes that he's also been hired to look into the project that's illegally using his friend's technology for momentous purposes. Even as several attempts on his life leave him more curious than ever, the political situation on the planet Devanta destabilizes, and he makes full use of his special ops skills in a final caper to save the planet. Modesitt cleverly weaves together disparate threads of information to form a complete tapestry. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

A brilliant scientist on the planet Devanta has created a small universe with a utopian city, Elysium, on one of its planets. Why? For whom? And why is an exceedingly dubious entertainment mogul subsidizing him? Special-ops-soldier turned analyst-detective Blaine Donne is hustling along, trying to keep commissions ahead of expenses. A series of apparently unrelated queries he is hired to handle all points to Elysium and the entertainment consortium Eloi Enterprises. Then there's an attack on his life. With a well-realized world, an original plot twist, and a cliff-hanger ending--space opera by a first-class librettist. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (February 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765317206
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765317209
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,386,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

After spending years writing poetry, political speeches and analyses, as well as economic and technical reports on extraordinarily detailed and often boring subjects, I finally got around to writing my first short story, which was published in 1973. I kept submitting and occasionally having published stories until an editor indicated he'd refuse to buy any more until I wrote a novel. So I did, and it was published in 1982, and I've been writing novels -- along with a few short stories -- ever since.

If you want to know more, you can visit my website at

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By James D. DeWitt VINE VOICE on March 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I like Modesitt, despite this unfavorable review. A prolific writer, he has invented a variety of universes, each a bit different, and he writes good economic- and politically-based science fiction. The quality of his writing can be pretty variable, and he cannot write a love scene to save his soul. But I still enjoy most of his books.

But I had to work to even finish this one. The premise is promising: a male private detective in a society run by and whose royalty are women. But that premise is never fully developed. The private detective/protagonist also has a Dark Knight role, but that's never developed, either. He doesn't take assignments; he takes commissions. Hence, the title. And he does, indeed take the Elysium commission, even if he only figures it out afterwards. The rest of the novel is similarly fragments and undeveloped. The protagonist, as another reviewer has noted, is yet another iron-grey-haired guy who wears black a lot.

And when the plot drops into military action at the end, you won't be the only reader who wonders wear that came from.

Modesitt has written far better books. For example, the recent "Eternity Artifact" is superior in every way. This is a clunker.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Indy Reviewer VINE VOICE on March 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Elysium Commission is not one of L. E. Modesitt's better novels. I take a star off each for POV storytelling that is confusing, a plot getting wildly sidetracked for 80% of the book before making any sense, and a protagonist that seems to be a composite of any of his other science fiction standalones. I'm going to be generous and add back one star for some fairly interesting concepts in worldbuilding, so three stars.

The world he creates is certainly different. Protagonist Blaine Donne lives in what seems to be a terraformed future world based roughly off of Italy and France that is dominated by the rich, ruled by women, and where nanite technology and societal acceptance allows routine enhancements ranging up to sex changes to those who aren't comfortable being themselves.

Unfortunately, that's the only good part. The narrative is both confusing and badly developed. Donne is yet another one of Modesitt's repetitive retired Special Ops types (of course, also a pilot) who has become a private investigator in his medical retirement. Modesitt makes an unusual mistake for a writer of his experience in spending most of the book away from the main plot of what exactly the Elysium project is by investigating Donne's other cases, and then compounds it by throwing in occasional POVs from the nominal villain that make utterly no sense until he finally reveals at the conclusion what the villain had intended all along.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
L.E. Modesitt has been on my short list of authors for 20 years and I'm always willing to read anything he writes. Mr. Modesitt's strength is creating political/economic environments with strengths and weaknesses. He then sets his characters within these worlds as they approach a crisis. The Elysium Commission follows this formula.

I enjoyed this book and recommend it. The main character, Blaine Donne, is a retired special operations agent/soldier who's been medically discharged after a botched mission. The book begins on his home world of Devanta where he now acts as an investigator/fixer for the rich and well connected. He accepts a mysterious contract to investigate the connection between a scientist, an entertainment mogul, and something called Elysium. Intrigue, murder, and political brinkmanship follow from there.

The minor issue I have with this story and others by Modesitt are the main characters are almost always quiet, effective, have gray hair and green eyes, and typically dress in dark gray or black. Typically, the main characters will miss or misunderstand some salient point about his foes up to the point that it's almost too late, then they are forced into action to save the day. I've also come to the conclusion that Modesitt either doesn't know how to write a love interest into a story or always does the same variation on a theme here too.

Don't get me wrong, I can easily overlook those points listed above because the political/social/economic parts of the books often provide that 'hmmm, I hadn't thought of that' moment.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By kris stadelman on April 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Don't expect regular fare from this one! From the hero's name comes the first clue- think John Donne. Lots of literary references with an emphasis on Donne's work. This book is a sort of "time out" piece- having fun with English lit history. I think he's just having some fun, but it does create a lot of strain on the story. To really enjoy this work you had better have a pretty good grounding in Classical English Literature. Think of it more as James Bond meets John Donne. I got a kick out of it. How about doing Shakespeare next?
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