The Engines of Dawn Paperback – April 21, 2008
"The Fifth Doll" by Charlie N. Holmberg
The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Paper Magician Series transports readers to a darkly whimsical world where strange magic threatens a quiet village. | Learn more
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- Item Weight : 10.9 ounces
- Paperback : 240 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1604501901
- ISBN-13 : 978-1604501902
- Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.55 x 8.5 inches
- Publisher : Phoenix Pick (April 21, 2008)
- Language: : English
- Customer Reviews:
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Hardly seems like the best premise for an action novel. You'd expect a bit more of a politicial thriller.
Fortunately, this is a rocking action novel. The type is a bit bigger than normal, so you can easily zip through this book. The fact that it is clearly written, and flows well from event to event only heightens the speed.
The downside is that reading as quickly as I did, I sometimes got a bit confused on which faction was in favor of what. Luckily, the alliances were straightforward enough, until they weren't. And I had sorted out the main factions by then.
The only downside, if this is a downside, is that the main character is obsessed with female breasts. Not that this is a bad thing, but having a detailed analysis of that feature of each female character for the first 50 or so pages did begin to wear. Luckily, by that point, things were happening, so it became a non-topic until the denoument.
It seems that some of the other reviewers were not taking into account the perspective of the novel while reading. While the political infighting seems minor next to the threat to humanity from the Enamorati Compact, no one outside of a half dozen characters fully understands the threat, and so it does not influence their actions. This is actually a plus to the novel, as agendas are advanced in ignorance. Only the reader can understand how the big picture fits together - and that knowledge is incomplete.
Of course, as befits a good action novel, the good guys win, the bad guys get beaten for being stupid and lose to boot. Girl beds boy and all are happy.
Obviously, this is not a novel that plumbs deep intellectual depths. It is suprisingly well thought out for a "simple action novel", and represents some of the best entertaining science fiction that one can read.
Enough fluff for entertainment, and enough meat for thinking. A good balance, and a book and author destined for my must read chart.
The writing is often awkward and cliche-ridden ("He sported a black mustache of military smartness, and his snappy gray tunic had nary a crease"), and the characters are largely cardboard cut-outs, their actions and emotions changing from moment to moment according to the demands of the plot rather than any plausible inner motivation.
The editors seem to have skipped the continuity-checking phase, and problems abound. In the book's first pages we are told that the characters' clothing is a smart nanotech construct that can be made to flow on and off of their bodies at will. But that fact is never mentioned again, and by the end of the book we have someone in "a torn tunic". While orbiting a planet, someone mentions casually that because of the topography there are probably "surface winds in excess of two hundred miles an hour"; but when they go down to the surface they take no precautions against such winds, there are in fact no such winds, and no one comments on the fact. On one page we are told that there are only four known Earthlike planets; later we are told that a particular kind of ivy is found on "a number of worlds". And so on. Much of the technology is quite implausible also.
More seriously, the books' basic plot device is equally shaky: a Good Alien has an important secret that the humans must know, so he concocts an elaborate, dangerous, and utterly implausible plot to strand their ship in space in hopes that they will take refuge on and explore a word that contains vague hints about the truth (hints that, as far as the alien could have known, were utterly unlikely to actually reveal the truth to the humans). Rather than, say, writing the secret down and slipping it under someone's door.
Which isn't to say that it's a totally awful book. The awkward writing was only irritating, and I was interested enough in what the big secret was that I stayed up late last night to finish it. But there are lots and lots of better books out there...
What really does for me in this book is seeing man face a mortal enemy, who could well turn into the species nemesis, and having as main obstacle their own political infighting and quest for power. _That_ is rendered perfectly in this book.
Also, I must admit that the university background setting is familiar and comfortable to me. It's not every time humanity is saved in a university campus, and very rarely as convincingly as in this book. :-)
If you are put off by plot holes, stay away from this one. If the way personal agendas and egos can get in the way of our own good does it for you, though, this book is for you.