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VINE VOICEon May 17, 2010
. . . to "The January Dancer" -- and a terrific story in its own right. As I've indicated in other reviews of Michael Flynn's novels, he writes Story -- in the best possible sense of the word. His writing is intense and tightly written, and honestly, not for the faint of heart. If you're going to invest time in a Michael Flynn novel, you need to be prepared to "get into" his world.

"Up Jim River" picks up where "The January Dancer" leaves off, with the Harpist and the Scarred Man once again playing prominent roles -- only now, the story is in "real-time" and not told in the flashback of the previous book. The novel answers several questions deliberately left unanswered in "The January Dancer" only to ask several more (one of which being this: Will there be more volumes to follow?) One can only hope that the answer to that question is "YES"!

No spoilers -- but one teaser! Readers of "The January Dancer" have wondered if the novel was set in the same "Universe" as Flynn's four-volume "Firestar" series -- only thousands of years in the future. The answer is "yes" -- and the avid Flynn reader will appreciate discovering this fact.

A truly tremendously enjoyable read. I highly recommend this book.
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on July 23, 2011
Such a good story. Even better than the starter, The January Dancer, it's the sequel to. I got a little tired of the byplay of Donovan's multiple personalities, but there turned out to be a meaningful point to them, after all. Flynn's universe is always intriguing. The idea that millions of descendants of colonists from Earth would have mixed up their races, ethnic groups and even their languages to the point of near unintelligibly (until you stumble over phonetic insights such as the Murkans and the Yurpans) after a thousand years is intriguingly plausible. Although why they all choose, amusingly, to pretend to be Irish (except for the fact that the author is) is unclear. The ending is worth the price of admission all by itself.
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on April 17, 2010
The Kennel of the United League of the Periphery assigns top Hound Bridget ban to obtain an artifact on the frontier planet Dangchao Waypoint that allegedly will help them remain safe in their galactic war against their enemy the Confederate of Central Worlds. Bridget ban knows the Confederacy will go all out to possess or destroy the artifact. Arriving on the planet, she begins the dangerous trek up river only to vanish. The Kennel conducts a quick inquest before deciding all beginnings and endings are with Jehovah; as Bridget ban obviously is.

Outraged with the instant official write off of her mother, who was a loyal hound, Bridget's daughter Mearana rejects the notion that her mom is dead. Mearana decides to rescue her mom, but knows she needs professional help so she chooses her mom's former lover, Donovan, who is insane so Mearana believes he might agree to do the job with her at his side; though he also could get them killed as the Confederacy Those of Name tortured him into seven distinct personalities. He agrees to take her to Dangchao Waypoint along the river of death.

Returning to the far future universe of The January Dancer, Michael Flynn provides an entertaining search and rescue mission science fiction thriller as the location of a remote lethal sector of the human dominated galaxy comes across as powerfully vivid. Enhancing time and place is almost mythological use of references and "archaic" vernacular dating back to twentieth and twenty-first century earth that focuses on a presupposition of knowledge and understanding of previous civilizations. More traditional in outlook than its predecessor, Up Jim River comes across more like a series of TV episodes along the line of Lost or 24, but with an unhinged hero. Readers will enjoy this fast-paced S&R quest on a planet filled with wilds.

Harriet Klausner
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon April 7, 2012
A continuation of the series started in the author's The January Dancer. This particular volume continues the quest of one of the main characters to find her mother. The plotting of this book is not as interesting as The January Dancer and somewhat predictable. The best feature is the continued articulation of Flynn's version of the distant future. The quality of writing is solid.
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on January 21, 2011
Up Jim River (2010) is the sequel to The January Dancer. In the previous volume, the Hounds met on Forsaken and found the Circuit. Fudir coldcocked Hugh and infiltrated the ICC base. Donavan stole the Twisted Stone and took it into the Rift.

In this novel, the Scarred Man sits within the Bar on Jehovah. He has tales to tell. Once he had been an agent of the Confederacy of Central Worlds, but now he has multiple personalities in his head.

Mearana of Dangchao -- AKA Lucia D. Thompson -- is an ollamh, a master harper. She is the daughter of Bridget ban.

Bridget ban -- AKA Francine Thompson -- is a Hound of the Ardry, an agent of The Particular Service of the United League of the Periphery. Donovan -- the original personality of the Scarred Man -- had met Bridget ban twenty years ago.

In this story, Mearana comes back to Jehovah to talk to the Scarred Man. He is eating and drinking breakfast, but is pleased to see her. She tells him of the disappearance of Bridget ban.

Her mother had come home from a voyage and then left two weeks later. She wrote that she would be back soon. But it has been almost a metric year.

The Hounds have tracked her as far as they could. Now Mearana is going to search from her mother. She asks the Scarred Man to accompany her.

Naturally, he tries to talk her out of following the trail. Since the Hounds cannot find her, the Scarred Man thinks that Bridget ban is probably dead. Yet Mearana refuses to consider that possibility.

Later, the Hound Greystoke and the Pup Little O'Hara show up on their travels. They too think that Bridget ban is dead, but they assist the two with Hound chits and transportation. Along the way, Mearana also acquires a Confederate agent and a couple of Wilders.

This tale takes the group into the Wild, following clues left behind by Bridget ban for her close associates. Eventually, they leave the Circuit and are unable to contact anyone within the League. Now they are beyond help.

The Scarred Man is having problems with his multiple personalities. The various personas are breaking into the controlling personality -- usually Donavan or Fudir -- and causing the body to freeze. These episodes are becoming more obvious to those around him.

This story shows more of the League and beyond. Probably there will be another volume, but it has not yet been announced. Worth waiting for!

Highly recommended for Flynn fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of political intrigue, exotic quests, and determined harpers. Read and enjoy!

-Arthur W. Jordin
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on September 25, 2012
One cannot speed-read through Michael Flynn novels. The imagery is to complex and unconventional. The dialogue is often obscure. The settings are way too bizarre. But isn't that why we read Sci-Fi in the first place? Up Jim River is a quest that brings to mind at times The Hobbit, Candide or The Wizard of Oz. Donovan is a psychologically damaged agent of the shadowy Confederacy hired by a young lady harpist to find her mother, a Hound, agent of the shadowy Kennel. If that is a bit confusing wait until you meet the rest of the accumulated gang. In the far future following the diaspora from Mother Earth the Spiral Arm is populated by a bewildering array of strangely familiar but mixed, upside-down cultures. There are no alien monsters or extra-dimensional entities. The only beings to fear are far worse, people who want something you have or know. Sometimes when we are looking for something of great value, the most dangerous outcome is to actually find it.
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on April 28, 2010
Michael Flynn is the most unique writing style in SF. Beyond his stories and inventivness, which he shares with other writers, he stands out in a special way for putting the words together that describe the human condition. Over and over again he expresses in beautiful prose the double meaning that the events the character is experiencing have. In a single sentence he can show how the action of an event can mean one thing when observed from the outside and the very opposite when observed from inside the character. Marvelous!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon October 17, 2010
In this story we are reunited with the harper and the scarred man from The January Dancer. But there are two differences. First, we know who they are. And they leave the Bar on Jehovah to look for the harper's mother, the Hound Bridget ban who has gone missing. It turns out that this was a reason the harper sought out the scarred man in Michael Flynn's last book.

As the two follow Bridget ban's trail, we learn more about these characters and the universe Flynn has constructed around them. The scarred man's mind is fragmented into a handful of personalities that quarrel and occasionally cooperate. He and the harper find allies among the Hounds, the citizens of diverse worlds, and Wild barbarians who honor the harper's music. The level of hospitality they encounter ranges from Far Gatmander, where "guests happen," to Enjrun's Oorah, who treat guests "as their most precious treasure." As they draw nearer to their quest's end, they encounter enemies and allies, old and new. More need not be said.

Flynn continues to build the universe that holds his stories. We learn more of the League, the Confederation, and how humans were scattered from Old Earth. There are playful references to our current culture made through planetary customs, names, and snippets of language. (I'll admit to laughing out loud when learning that the planet "Boldly Go" contained only women.) This playfulness doesn't get in the way--much.

There are a few negatives. One is the more pedestrian pace of this book compared to The January Dancer. There is less mystery about the characters and their motivations. And some of the book's twists are the same kinds of twists as in the previous book. You don't necessarily see them coming--but in their aftermath they feel less surprising. Let's hope the author has some new tricks for the sequel. There will plainly be at least one.

This book is recommended for space opera fans, readers who enjoy playful use of language, and those who have enjoyed Flynn's previous books.
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on June 8, 2013
Purchased this book based on reading Firestar, loved that one. I am not an experienced reviewer just have read Science fiction for the last 20 years or so. I found the book confusing in trying to follow characters, and tedious as I had to refer back to the beginning of the book for character descriptions, and maps! To me you just had to read through about page 50 and then skip to page 290, for the whole story, sorry. This is how I feel after first reading it. I will start the second book in the series, but after seeing characters and maps in the front of the book, do not hold out much hope.
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on June 18, 2014
Good story, Nice continuation of Jan. Dancer. Flynn is a joy to read and I would recommend this book to any SF fan.
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