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Of Treasons Born (Treasons Cycle) Paperback – April 5, 2016
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“A roller coaster ride of a story which is one of the best books I’ve read in years.” —SFFWorld on A Choice of Treasons
About the Author
Born in Seattle, Doty lived most of his life in California but now resides in Arizona with his wife Karen and their three cats.
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This book serves as a prequel to 'A Choice of Treasons',a book I feel is one of the finer space operas written. Perhaps not as powerful its predecessor 'Of Treasons Born' still does a more than adequate job of building a raw child into a non cliche of a hero that is very easy to root for. Doty sets up lots of delicious scenes as he takes young York Ballin thru childhood and leaves him a formidable young man just in time for the book to end,but ready to take on all comers in the next episode of a series with serious legs. Recommended.
It has a sympathetic protagonist; it's a decent space yarn with a fair amount of action; the book develops along interesting lines and, as the first in a series, establishes a fairly good foundation for the story to develop in the future.
Here's what's wrong with it:
The author has set the entire story in an environment he seems to have no feel for. Not the environment of outer space or foreign worlds (I don't have a feel for them either, never having been off Earth). It's the space-faring navy Mr. Doty sets his entire story in that just does not work. I'll limit my criticism to just a few points, but they’re representative of the entire feel of the story. (Note: small spoilers required here).
His participation in a mugging gone wrong, following other petty crimes, gets a young hoodlum named York Ballin pressed into service in the Imperial Navy. The problems with the story start to develop as soon as Ballin arrives aboard his first ship. He receives nothing that resembles even the most rudimentary military training before being assigned to a petty officer who’s supposed to make a sailor out of him but who instead just sets him to swabbing decks and bulkheads, generally without supervision. Unsurprisingly his ignorance of Navy regulations or even basic military behavior soon land him in trouble. As a result of ‘assaulting’ (really shoving) his petty officer – who incidentally had made a habit of hitting him regularly – he’s disciplined at a hearing he doesn't understand, in which he's not allowed to present a defense, and which sentences him to fifty strokes of the lash. He's twelve years old.
I'm afraid that by this point in the story its logical weaknesses began to detract from my ability to enjoy it. Pressing a twelve-year-old into service without training him makes no sense; punishing him for violating rules he was never taught makes even less. No legitimate military organization would operate in such a haphazard manner. Mr. Doty seems to have no understanding at all of military training or discipline, and yet the plot of his story relies entirely on them to carry it along.
There’s also a very unfortunate section of the book in which Ballin attends the Imperial Naval Academy. The less said about the inconsistencies, both physical and philosophical, in the make-up and administration of that institution the better. Midshipman Ballin’s time there is one long, painful example of how little the author understands even the most basic aspects of a military education environment.
Mr. Doty shows little if any understanding of tactics either, which makes the story very unbalanced when he strays into that area – which he has to do from time to time, since Ballin’s space navy is at war (no, we never learn why; they just are). The only description we get of early battle scenes is that Ballin hears sounds his shipmates tell him are the ship’s main batteries firing, and others that mean defensive guns are engaging incoming enemy fire. Later, Ballin becomes a gunner (yes, he finally gets some training!) but all we learn of this is that he spends his time firing at blips, which are said to represent incoming torpedoes. He’s very good at it though, so I guess that makes it better. By the end of the story my head hurt from my effort to suspend disbelief and keep up with him (J.L. Doty that is, not York Ballin – none of this is his fault).
I paid $2.99 for the Kindle version of this book, which was about a dollar too much. That was a Kindle daily deal; I see now it’s back up to its regular Kindle price is $9.99. DO NOT buy this book at that price!