- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 9 hours and 20 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Audible Studios
- Audible.com Release Date: November 18, 2014
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00PURTV9E
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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In the Hall of the Martian King Audiobook – Unabridged
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In this novel, Jak is working for the Protectorates Administrative Services Corps as vice-Procurator of Deimos, the smaller and outer moon of Mars. The most exciting thing that has happened is welcoming Uncle Sib to Mars during his two-hundredth birthday Big Circuit. He has just seen his boss off for a vacation on the Hive and has barely settled into the expected boredom, when he receives a "For Your Eyes Only" message from Hel Faczel, the head of PASC, telling him that a extremely important religious artifact has been found on Mars.
Jak is instructed to turn over his duties to his staff and to go to Mars as soon as possible. His vacationing boss also calls to congratulate him on the assignment, to remind him that he is well prepared, and to request that Jak take Pikia, his great-great-granddaughter, on the mission with him. Jak and Pikia fly down to Mars together in the warshuttle John Carter.
Jak is head of the mission to Red Amber Magenta Green, the Harmless Zone kingdom where the artifact was found, but Hive Intelligence wants him to defer any credit for its success to Clarbo Waynong, a scion of a famous family slated for high office. Unfortunately, to say that Clarbo lacks proficiency as a agent is more than an understatement; it would be totally misleading. Clarbo is so narcissistic and self-absorbed that he can't even understand why people don't always follow the script that he has provided them.
Jak is determined to do everything he can to complete the mission successfully, for Hive Intelligence has promised to completely de-condition him from Shyf's influence if he succeeds. He suppresses his good sense several times to keep Clarbo in the mission, thereby really irritating his friends. However, Jak knows that he is only being a good citizen of the Hive, following the dictates of the Wager.
This novel takes Jak's alienation from his friends even further, causing him even more mental pain. However, he receives unexpected help from a little known Martian kingdom, Paxhaven, that provides him with an additional source of strength. Moreover, he discovers a new friend and competent ally in Pikia.
Once again, the reader is agitated at the machinations of Hive Intelligence and its manipulation of Jak and his friends. Although Jak does everything he can to achieve the goals set for him, the game is rigged against him. The artifact, an old-fashioned lifelog, provides an explanation for some of the Machiavellian maneuvering of the Hive and other human polities as well as the problems that Jak has keeping "toves". This installment suggests the possibility of some redemption of Jax later in the series.
Recommended for Barnes fans and anyone else who enjoys tales of intrigue and adventure in the far future.
The crisis driving the main action of In the Hall of the Martian King is the discovery of a lifelog of Paj Nakasen, the originator of the "Wager", a quasi-religious set of principles that lies at the heart of 36th Century human society. This lifelog was discovered at an archaeological dig in one of many tiny Martian nations. Many entities want this document, and such people as Jak's much-loved Uncle Sib; Princess Shyf; and a silly but highly placed fellow diplomat are all involved in the search.
All this leads to an amusing series of comedies of errors, as various attempts are made to obtain (by fair means or foul) the lifelog. Much of the book is rather funny, and much is quite exciting. Barnes gives us an impressive set-piece or two while the McGuffin is tussled over. But it's not all funny -- there is serious speculation about the proper organization of society, and there is some wrenching tragedy as well. Good people die. And the information in the lifelog itself turns out to have potentially catastrophic repercussions for Jak's society.
As with all the novels in this series, the wheels-within-wheels of the plot are almost exhausting, and not quite believable. But Jak is an interesting and ambiguous character, well worth reading about. The action of the books is quite enjoyable, even if not always what it seems on the surface. Barnes tackles some interesting ideas, though I think he stacks the decks of his arguments on occasion. The background details of the social order, the technological underpinning, and the varied cultures of the 36th Century Solar System are just delightfully presented. I'm really enjoying these novels.
Barnes' world building is still very good, and the likeable cast of characters returns. He doesn't pull punches either with major and minor characters subject to terminal events.
Though I vehemently disagree that this series is satire, there was some mild humor with the incompetent hereditary politician that Jak is assigned to make shine.
However the strengths of the work are overshadowed by the bleak and cynical way Jak is used and abused by his teachers, his government and his "friends" as well as the way Jak is forced to use and abuse his friends as well.
I give this one a 3.5 that I round up to 4.