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Blackcollar (The Blackcollar Series) Paperback – December 18, 2012
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Allen Cain enters a dilapidated store that deals in old books and music tapes. He quietly wanders around for a few minutes before going through the employees entrance when no one was looking, he goes down a long passageway and finally finds a trap door that allows him to go down into the bowels of the building. He opens a door and is met with a bright light that blinds him. He tells them to turn off the darn light and they do so. He finds himself in front of four individuals, a woman and three men. Instantly he knows something really big is up because these are probably the four most important people of the Resistence. They tell him he will be going to the planet Pliney. He is then given his forged papers showing that he is now Rienzi Allan, aide to Senator Auriol. The only thing they did not give him was a paper giving him authorization to examin the Pliney anchives. They tell him to return at six pm and will have this authorization ready for him. They also tell him about the security code in place and to be sure to check it before entering the shop. When Allan returns at the appointed hour he knows something is very wrong because the security code is not in place. he nonchalantly walks by but is on high alert. He isn't sure if he should go through with the assignment or not but decides to go on with it.
He is uneasy about: he need not only his passport but he has to pass finger print and eye recognition. However he passes without a hitch. he settles down for the journey and begins to relax a bit. He finally arrives at Plinry and is met by Prefect Jamus Galway and his aide officer Ragusin.
These people work for the new power who are described as tall,leathery-skinned bipeds. Galway begins to converse with Allan and finally asks him why he has come to Plinry: vacation or work. Alla explains that actually he is writing a book on the war and thought he would like to interview some of the elder peole to see what they have to say. He says he also would like to check out the Plinry archives. Galway asks him if he has written authorization and Allan feigns surprise that he would need such a thing. Galway assure him that he indeed does. Allan pretends to be annoyed that he wasn't told. Now all he can do is try to talk to the old timers and mentions that he would like to talk to General Lepkowski who was rather famous in the Resistence. Galway tell him that this general was killed during an attack. However, Galway tells him that some of the real old guys from the old Resistence are still around if he would like to talk to them. However Galway thought it wouldn't be of much use.
Allan Cain decides to talk to some people and see what he can find out. In reality he is looking for someone who can put him in touch with the Underground. He is fortunate but at first doesn't think so until he is invited to go away with some of the old resistence (who are considered by the new government to be harmless) on a retreat. Alla Cain is introduced to the fellows and events follow that completely take him by surprise,
The rest of the novel deals with these men, Blackcollars, and that they are anything but inoffensive to the ruling Ryqril. There is intrigue enough to make your hair stand on end and enough twists and turns to keep the reader on hight alert. There is much mistrust and even though the Resistence is sure that there are spies no one is quite sure who they are. All involved seem to be what they should be: very sophisticated and highly trained men who have undergone extensive mind and emotional control training. There are plots and sub-plots and the end is not all all what what you might have imagined. Allan Cain also discovers duing all of this high adventure something disturbing about himself that he has to come to terms with. I loved this book and really had a hard time putting it down. It grips you from the very beginning and doesn't let you go until the very end. A book well worth reading and I intent to read other Blackcollar books. I love a book that inexorable draws the reader into a thrilling experience.
The characters were nuanced and believable, but what made this story great was the plot. All sorts of surprises and the pacing was suburb. One fun bit was seeing how 80's tech (like cassette tapes) was extrapolated to create the future tech options--not poorly done, just amusing.
Zahn will probably never be ranked among the literary lions of science fiction. His sci-fi invention is pretty run-of-the-mill, his characterization is just average and, let's face it, he's a pulp writer. But as long as you're not expecting Great Art a Zahn book is a fun read. He's a good storyteller in the vein of early Robert Heinlein, and he knows how to pen a good action scene (harder than it looks).
I'd never read anything in Zahn's 'Blackcollar' series before. Book 1 definitely gets off to a roaring start.
The setup is this: it's the future, intergalactic space travel is possible, and aliens exist. Oh, yeah, and those aliens aren't necessarily friendly. In fact a warlike race called the Ryquril mercilessly conquered Earth and all her colonies 30 years ago.
We pick up with a young man named Alan Caine, part of the human resistance on Earth. Alan is about to head off-planet to locate some records that might give the resistance its greatest military coup since the occupation began. But just as he prepares to leave things go awry, the local resistance cell is compromised, an Alan finds himself on his own. Now he'll have to make it to the backwater colony of Plinry on his own and attempt to establish contact with the local resistance there: a resistance composed of an aging group of warriors who were once humanity's last and best hope: the Blackcollars.
Recommended if you're looking for a light, fast sci-fi read.
The story is fast-paced and the characters are people you would want watching your back in a fire fight.It all begins with Caine, who was raised to be a part of the underground that is at work to free Earth and the human colony planets that are occupied by an alien race. These aliens do not need to have a large presence on the defeated human planets. Instead, they have programmed a class of humans to be loyal to them, even to the point of suppressing their own people. Caine is sent on a long-shot mission to find remnants of the Blackcollar force and locate a hidden cache of ships that can put humans back in space and give the resistance movement a chance to organize beyond their individual planet-bound efforts. But the mission seems impossible; with only a slim chance of succeeding even if he can locate and recruit some of the famed Blackcollars.
Blackcollar reads like fan fiction. The characters are all one-dimensional, and the entirety of the plot amounts to "look at these people! They are cool! Look at how cool they are!"
I like my books to have at least a little character development, or a plot, or at least something. This book was just a collection of action scenes cribbed from various movies. The action wasn't poorly written, there just wasn't any substance there or anything to make me care about how it all turned out.