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Orphan's Alliance (Jason Wander) Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 2008
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About the Author
Robert Buettner is a former Military Intelligence Officer, National Science Foundation Fellow in Paleontology, and has been published in the field of Natural Resources Law. He lives in Georgia, creating the sequel to ORPHAN'S ALLIANCE and snowboarding passably. His website is: www.RobertBuettner.com.
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Jason Wander is a wonderful character though. He was an orphan in a lot of trouble going nowhere fast and was given a choice between imprisonment and the Army. He chose the Army. In the middle of the human fight against the alien invaders, termed slugs, he showed his true character and became a hero. Eventually, Jason Wander finds himself a commander and general, and in this volume a quasi-diplomat.
Buettner has been compared to Robert A. Heinlein, which is not just a stretch, but blasphemy. Nevertheless Jason Wander reminds one of the self-made men that were at the center of many of the Grand Master's works, especially his military heroes.
Orphan's alliance finds Jason Wander trying to pull together the Outerworlds where humans have been transplanted by slugs nearly 30,000 years ago to mine Cavorite, the substance that fuels the light year jumps between planets and universes. They have varying degrees of technological progress, but they are all backwards. It doesn't say much for the human race that they all are very warlike and Wander mostly finds them in near apocalyptic battles against each other.
Jason is assigned to bring peace to the Outerworlds and form an alliance. On Bren, where we last saw Wander broker peace, he is sent to help broker an agreement to offer Bren citizens the chance to develop a space station called The Mousetrap. Things have moved fast in the lifetime of Wander as humans have discovered, thanks to capturing some slug technology, a wormhole nexus (the common name for it among science fiction aficionados) here called a Temporal Fabric Insertion Point (TFIPs). Mousetrap is in the perfect position to defend against any future slug invasions.
The action starts to really heat up as Mousetrap is developed, but I will stop here to avoid spoilers.
At this point in the series it feels and reads like Buettner is writing under a contract. The first two volumes of this series were spectacular. The last two are slightly above mediocre. I love the characters but the story now lacks panache. Orphan's Alliance really suffers in that it is almost a series of short stories strung together to form a whole, and mostly is rather bland and boring. It does pick up in the last third of the book, and brings us to a conclusion and a launching point for the next book in the series. But the writing does not bring out the emotional punch that the story itself should evoke.
But, I will not miss the next volume in this series.
This volume is like one of those punishing Hors d'oeuvres (you know, cheese inside a deep-fried chili pepper). That first taste is good, but it burns going down, then it brings tears to your eyes. Once more, amid victory, our hero endures personal injury and loses close friends. Again the Alliance needs him. So he pulls himself together and ships out. This time, he fails to finish preparations before the enemy blows him away- literally.
Unlike last volume, there are some female characters- still two-dimensional.