Reviewed in the United States on December 21, 2012
Because Rome's Revolution and The Ark Lords are both part of the Rome's Revolution series, I'll write a joint review about them.
I have to confess that I'm bit hard to please when it comes to science fiction, because I tend to read only "good stuff" (a.k.a. quality science fiction) and entertaining science fiction, but I'm always willing to try new books, because there are lots of good books out there. Because Michael Brachman's books seemed to be entertaining books, I was eager to get my hands on them.
I was positively surprised by Michael Brachman's Rome's Revolution and The Ark Lords, because the author has interesting ideas and he writes about the characters and happenings in an entertaining way. There were a couple of rough spots (I'll write more about them later), but I enjoyed the story. In my opinion both books are good and enjoyable entertainment for adult readers.
I think it's good to explain certain terms before I write more about Rome's Revolution and The Ark Lords, so here's information about the terms:
- The Vuduri are humans of the future. They have 24 chromosomes and they're mind-connected to the Overmind.
- The Essessoni are humans from the 21st century. The Vuduri hold the Essessoni responsible for the near extinction of the human race.
- The Erklirte or The Ark Lords were ruthless and cruel people who reintroduced slavery and tried to rule the Earth.
- The mandasurte are people who are mind-deaf to the Vuduri and can't connect to the Overmind.
- The Overmind is the collective consciousness of the Vuduri.
And here's a bit of information about the main characters:
- Rei Bierak is an engineer who was one of the frozen passengers aboard Ark II which was launched from Earth. The Ark was discovered 1400 later and Rei was the first human awakened. He was awakened by the Vuduri.
- Rome is a beautiful Vuduri woman. She falls in love with Rei and becomes a Cesdiud (she is cast out from the Overmind).
In Rome's Revolution Rei Bierak has been asleep for 1400 years and when he wakes up from the cryo sleep, he finds that humankind has changed quite a lot. He was supposed to travel to Tau Ceti, but ended elsewhere. He is awakened by the Vuduri and learns things about them.
Rei feels a bit disoriented and lost, because he is the only human who has been awakened. The Vuduri are totally different from Rei - their way of life differs greatly from Rei's way of life (for example, they don't eat spicy food or wear beautiful clothes). The Vuduri are connected to the Overmind and share thoughts through the link. They have no conflicts and they live in peace.
Rei falls in love with Rome. Because they fall in love, Rome is cut off from the Overmind and can't hear what the Overmind is thinking. Although becoming mandasurte feels bad at first, Rome begins to admire the ability to think for herself. She thinks that the Vuduri lost something when they joined the Overmind and now she has found what they have lost. Rome begins to think that having independent thoughts and feelings is a good thing for the Vuduri. She finds out that she is able to change things by talking to the Overmind and other persons.
Rei and Rome soon finds out that a separate section within the Vuduri wants to kill all the mandasurte to maintain ethnic purity. In other words, they want to perform a genocide. But what is really happening...? (The readers will find out what's happening in the books, but in order to avoid writing spoilers I won't write more about the happenings here.)
In The Ark Lords the adventures of Rei and Rome continue in a fascinating way. They have to deal with the possible return of the new Ark Lords. This threat causes them lots of problems, because they have to save the human race from extinction. In other words, they have to find a way to defeat the Ark Lords. Rome also wants to build a library of history.
In these two books Rei learns many things about mankind's history and learns to know that his generation is considered to be a murderous generation who was responsible for the almost near extinction of mankind. He is treated differently and with fear, because the Vuduri fear that he will cause them harm.
As Rei and Rome journey through space, they face several problems and threatening situations. For example, they have to deal with Rome's pregnancy, oppressed mandasurte people, the VIRUS units, Stareaters, the Vuduri Overmind which is different from other Overminds etc. Their adventures are entertaining and there are lots of small surprises in store for the readers.
Rome's Revolution and The Ark Lords are clearly hard science fiction, but they aren't your usual kind of hard science fiction, because there's a bit of humour in them. What I liked most about these books is that the science is interesting - the new scientific wonders are truly fascinating. The author has spent quite a lot of time developing the scientific elements and it shows in the story arc, because each elements seems to fit into the story. (There are a couple of things, which are a bit difficult to imagine to ever be possible to achieve, but the author writes about them with passion.)
Michael Brachman has created a fascinating vision of mankind's future. Several authors have already written about utopian and dystopian societies, but there's something fresh and entertaining in Michael Brachman's world. Although his vision of the future is a bit bleak, he manages not to dwell too much on dystopian things and infuses the story arc with gentle and inventive humour.
The protagonists, Rei and Rome, are interesting characters, because they're totally different from each other. I think that readers wil enjoy reading about the differences between Rei and Rome and how they learn to trust and love each other.
The computers, OMCOM and MINIMCOM, are also interesting "characters". They help Rei and Rome in various problems and have quite a few unusual, but useful ideas. Because I'm an IT engineer by profession, it was nice to read about intelligent computers who were almost like humans and we're able to do all kinds of things. I'm not sure how much I should write about the computers, because I want to avoid writing spoilers, but I'll mention that the computers have interesting personalities and they feel human.
I won't write much about the minor characters, but I'll mention that the evil characters were fascinating. I'm sure that readers will be pleasantly surprised when they find out what's really causing all the problems at the end of Rome's Revolution.
Rome's Revolution and The Ark Lords contain several interesting ideas. For example, the Stareater is a good and original idea, because they're responsible for making stars disappear. The connection between a mother and a baby is also a brilliant idea, because Rome is able to communicate with her child.
I think the author has done an excellent choice by writing about how Rei feels about the new technology and how difficult it is for him to understand all the changes and advancements that have happened during his sleep, because it's a great way to introduce new things and terms to the reader without too much info dumping. There's quite a lot of information - and especially science - in these books, but I'm sure that every intelligent and mature reader is able to understand what's going on.
The author also writes fluently about sexual situations. I especially enjoyed reading about how Rei meets a Vuduri woman in The Ark Lords and what happens to him during the meeting. It was a funny and well written scene.
By the way, the use of the word "sleek" is interesting, because Rei uses it often. (I think it's interesting how certain authors manage to associate themselves with unusual words which make their prose easily identifiable.)
I almost forgot to mention that I enjoyed reading about how Rome was able to learn formal English fast. It took her a while to understand all the words and expressions used in contemporary English, but learning formal English was easy for her.
The structure of this series is interesting: Rome's Revolution consists of three different parts (Tabit, Tau Ceti and Earth), so it can be called an omnibus. The Ark Lords is however an independent continuation of the story arc and can be read after you've finished reading Rome's Revolution. The story of Rei and Rome will continue in the near future, because the author is currently writing more books, so readers who enjoy this series will soon get to read more about Rei and Rome.
Although I enjoyed Rome's Revolution and The Ark Lords, I have to be honest and mention that the prose and the dialogue felt at first a bit awkward and unfinished, because they weren't as good and fluent as they could've been. I'll also mention that the love affair between Rei and Rome felt slightly unbelievable (their romance reminded me a bit of the unbelievable and annoying romances in paranormal romance books), but considering that they both shared a deep connection, it was gradually easy to believe that they truly love each other deeply and were devoted and faithful to each other.
Fortunately the author has developed quite a lot as an author since the first part and has learned to avoid stylistic mistakes. The other parts were much better and more fluent in several ways, because the author concentrated on developing the story arc and took the focus away from the romance. In the later parts the love between Rei and Rome plays an important role, but the action scenes and several happenings feel more epic than before and they act as a counterbalance for the romantic side of the story.
Rome's Revolution and The Ark Lords are delightful sci-fi romps and space opera books for readers who are interested in entertaining science fiction and want to be hooked by a good story. I think that readers who aren't familiar with science fiction will love these books, because they're accessible and fluently written books with lots of science. Experienced readers will enjoy reading about the science and scientific things and I'm sure that they will also enjoy the story.
If you are interested in science and scientific things, enjoy reading sci-fi adventure stories, want a little romance, and like action scenes, these books offer you all these things and more in an entertaining all-in-one package. These books are good and harmless fun!