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Showing 1-9 of 9 reviews(2 star). Show all reviews
on January 25, 2008
Ringo uses a premise familiar to any fan of S.M. Stirling: take a bunch of civilized people from a hi-tech culture, take away their fancy toys, and watch how they adapt. Stirling did this via time travel (Island in the Sea of Time) and a mysterious alien intervention that disables high-energy tech (Dies the Fire). Ringo is more ambitious than that. Unfortunately, he's a lot less skillful at fleshing out his story.

This version is set thousands of years in the future. Earth is a paradise and a playground, where the nastiest problem for most people is finding new and exotic ways of enjoying life. Government has mostly vanished; the notable exception is The Council, which controls the computer ("Mother") that controls everything.

Things fall apart when a group of Council members attempt to impose their own fascistic vision of the future on human society. Their attempted coup fails, and suddenly all of humanity is caught up in a civil war. This struggle quickly sucks up all the power required to keep this post-industrial paradise functioning; in the blink of an eye, civilization vanishes.

This is where we get into the meat of the story, as people struggle to re-invent civilization based mostly on medieval-level technology. And this is where the story loses its credibility. Even by the standards of Science Fiction (a genre not known for sophisticated character development) the people in this book lack credibility. They've lost a civilization where nobody has to work, and where lifetimes are measured in centuries; now they have to work until their hands bleed, and are likely to die an early death due to warfare, banditry, disease, and malnutrition. You would think they'd be a little bummed out about it.

To some extent they are. But, hey, they're heroes. Pull Yourself Together. If You Don't Work You Don't Eat. Insert Moral Cliche Here. In spite of the far-future apocalyptic premise, everybody acts like a square-jawed inhabitant of a 20th-21st century industrial civilization. We're Faced With Difficult Choices, But We'll All Pull Together. Except for a few lazy people, of course.

The big problem is that Ringo is not that interested in the human side of his story. He's a military history buff, and primarily wants to write about how people re-invent warfare to suit their new predicament. So the cast includes a lot of military re-enactors who get to teach everybody else How To Fight. A nifty excuse to re-stage the boot camp scene from Full Metal Jacket.

But of course to have a boot camp, you have to have recruits. Somehow, all the recruits are teenagers instead of the centuries-old people who ought to dominate the refugees.

Ultimately, the story is just battle porn. But of course there's a big market for that.
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on June 6, 2015
The premise, while lacking originality, could have been intriguing: A future where humanity has no wants - where force fields and nanobots have essentially turned the whole world into a giant Holodeck from Star Trek. When the machines running everything lose power, only the few who had avoided technology know how to survive.

But the execution is terrible. The humanity addicted to technology does not feel particularly different than the humanity today. There is nothing about the people themselves that make me feel like I'm reading about people in the future. I've read novels that really examine what humans in the future may become, how society may change and evolve - this is not one of them.

And when people do show up at the doorsteps of the few who had been living without technology, they learn the 'old ways' far too quickly. These were people completely dependent on technology for even the most basic needs. But there is very little complaining, very little time spent on how difficult and different their lives are now. Changing your lives completely like that isn't something you pick up overnight!

The final nail in the coffin that lead me to call this 'Renaissance Faire fan fiction' is when, later in the book, there is a huge party and everyone participates 'in garb'. That means, they were all wearing Renaissance Faire clothes. Working in Ren Faire clothes... the whole day. I've worked at the Faire myself for a couple decades, and I know from experience that NO ONE (especially women) in their right mind wears and works in garb the whole day if they don't have to!

The whole book is filled with little things that just don't make sense. The characters are bland, I have trouble remembering any of them beyond basic descriptions of 'leader of the Ren Faire people' 'hero of the book', etc. The villains come out of the generic bad-guy factory. In more masterful hands, this could have been a compelling book. But as it is the first book by John Ringo I've read, it is also the last.
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on August 27, 2013
So you are an author in love with military history, reenactors, renn-fests, the second amendment, and the stock fantasy world elf-dwarf-orc-dragon types. Hmmm - hwo to get them all in one book??? The setup is this: Thousands of years in the future MOTHER is a huge AI-computer that provides nearly unlimited energy and computing power to a much-reduced population. Humans live about 400 years and do not have to do much of anything if they don't want to. There are no longer roads or rails or airlines or any other modern transportation because MOTHER will teleport you from A to B. It is no problem to eat lunch in Syndey and shop in Moscow and live in the wilds of Alaska and make it home for dinner. MOTHER allows one to bio-engineer themselves into an elf or a dragon if one so wishes, thus the Tolkein types. Apparently some people, bored with such an easy life, have resurected 20th/21st century reenactor/renn-fest culture and make swords and other medeival pursuits. Why THIS type of nostalgia beats out say year 2250 flying car races is not explained. One faction of the Council, which controls MOTHER, correctly IMHO decides that humanity is becoming lazy and useless. I think this would happen in about 5 years instead of hundreds, but YMMV. They wish to make people work for their luxuries and start a civil war with council members who like the status quo. MOTHER now cannot do anything because the warring factions prevent it or hog all the energy themselves. This causes an instant regression to a 12th century lifestyle. One early casualty is someone on a jet-ski a thousand miles from the nearest land who now has a dead machine and no way to teleport home. IMHO this is where the book starts to really go off the rails. People that have NEVER worked for their survival and have no way to even get to a town would just die. 99% of humanity would be gone in a period of a few weeks. They would be VASTLY worse off than a typical 12th century village. Farms might be 2,000 miles away, but thanks to teleportation the food can move just as easily as moving 2 miles. There ARE NO ROADS. No way to get anyplace but walk through wild forest that hasn't seen a road crew in centuries. The consequences would be VASTLY worse than depicted. Of course in the book the RennFesters now get to be medeival knights and lead troops into battle and otherwise live out 21st century geek fantasy life. I never saw a dragon and I got most of the way through too.
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on May 17, 2015
I initially chose this book because of the author. As expected, John Ringo is a phenomenal story teller. However, the story and characters could have been set up better. You struggle with the plot and characters until the middle of the book. That's is when the characters Herzer and Edmund (Charles) pretty much save the entire project from becoming a total.disaster...
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on January 4, 2014
Gave up on book about halfway through. Great ideas, adequate writing, but it was like reading a textbook with dialogue. I felt no emotional involvement with either the story or the characters. Maybe actual dragons would have helped!
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on February 10, 2015
I really enjoyed this story and found the characters interesting. I was disappointed to learn this is book one of four of in abandon series by the author, that is the reason for two stars.
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on December 22, 2014
Interesting premise ruined by the author trying to shove his political views down my throat despite the fact that they don't advance the plot.
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on September 6, 2004
From the synopses of "There Will Be Dragons," I wasn't sure I'd like it and so decided to wait for the paperback. I then read very positive reviews of "Emerald Sea" (next in the series) and decided I couldn't wait for the paperback. When I received the book, I was first disgusted by the dust jacket (supposed to meet men's sexual fantasies?). I don't know who decided on this jacket, which was illustrated by Clyde Caldwell, not John Ringo. It needs to be eliminated. I'm surprised the dust jacket has generated little comment.

I did start reading and considered the plot so-so (jumped too much from one character and locale to another). I kept expecting to be drawn into the story, but that didn't happen. After Ringo introduced Bast, the wise, long-lived elf, I became irritated by the continued references to her incredible understanding of humans and, apparently, of sex. I definitely didn't like Bast's intimation to Daneh that it's okay to be a submissive and to reach orgasm when Daneh relives (in dreams) her rape. I had to stop reading. I'm not sure what Ringo intended--and am aware that what an author writes does not necessarily reflect his/her views. But, this was too much.

I also felt that the book supported rather right-wing views regarding the environment (mentioned by at least one other reviewer) and the right to bear arms (also mentioned by other reviewers). The gung-ho military aspect comes through in other Ringo novels, but more acceptably--and entertainingly--so (at least for me).

I'm not going to try "Emerald Sea" since I find it hard to imagine that the nature of the series changes that dramatically in the second book.

I've enjoyed John Ringo's Human-Posleen series (although I think the quality of the series has declined in the last couple books); I've especially liked the Prince Roger series co-authored by David Weber and am eagerly awaiting the next installment.
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on December 7, 2004
Ringo ends this book with his heroes battling bandits, but the entire book is a kind of robbery. First come the opening setting, a couple thousand years uptime, a paradise with virtually unlimited energy and computing power available, teleportation, and nanotechnology to build or change anything on command. Then he pulls the rug out from everything with a ludicrous "war" between ruling council members. The entire population is dropped into fourteenth century technology, except for said council members who still have all their techno-magical means. Firearms aren't allowed due to a lame excuse he has, but elves, dwarves, orcs, dragons and unicorns are provided on an equally lame basis. Even Sluggy Freelance gets dragged in! The characters are shallow, and the plot is nothing more than a series of little episodes. Some of the main characters don't even rise to the level of being "shallow". Finally everything culminates in a battle that is so baldly staged and manipulated for the author's convenience that its offensive to the reader.

If you want a sword and sorcery tale, pick one that is at least honest with itself.
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