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This blog was started as a place to post book reviews. The books reviewed here will be mixed. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, General Fiction, NonFiction and more. Both positve and negative reviews will be posted, as well as reviews for books written for all ages and all reading levels.

Many of the books reviewed here are ones that I have purchased for my own reading pleasure. Some, I receive free in exchange for reviews. Beginning in December, 2009 you will know which are the free ones if you read the final paragraph of my reviews.

Also of note: I choose what I will read, attempting to avoid the books on which I would end up writing a negative review... but I have been known to make mistakes. Thus you see some one and two star reviews here. Since I don't enjoy writing negative reviews, I only write them if the review was promised, or if the book was so exceedingly bad, I just had to say so. Regardless of the percentage of positive to negative reviews on this blog, I give my honest opinion each and every time, and have never received financial compensation for posting my reviews.

Note that, except for fair use portions quoted from some of the books reviewed, all copyright in the content of the reviews belongs to Lady Dragoness.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Epic Within an Epic

The Asteroid Wars
By Ben Bova

The Precipice   (2001) 352 pages; 5 stars
The Rock Rats  (2002) 384 pages; 4 stars
The Silent War  (2004) 384 pages; 3 stars
The Aftermath  (2007) 400 pages; 4 stars

Publisher: Tor Books
Series rating: 4 stars of 5 possible

The Precipice: Two very rich industrialists believe they may have the key to the Earth's salvation and embark upon a partnership with the goal of moving Earth's heavy industries into outer space... but only one of the partners really has Earth's best interests in mind.  Mr. Bova highlights current environmental issues and creates an intense if somewhat traditional good-guy, bad-guy space opera with compelling characters that made me want to continue reading beyond the ending of The Precipice.

The Rock Rats: Taking up right where The Precipice left off, The Rock Rats continues the story of good versus evil, albeit with a change of characters - some of the characters in the first novel of the series gave their lives for the cause in which they believed. I dropped one star from the rating because this second novel suffers from "middle novel syndrome." The Rock Rats carries the burden of sustaining the reader's interest while allowed to provide few resolutions to the questions left open by the first novel... and the characters here (most of whom were continued from The Precipice) are less affable than characters no longer present in the story.

The Silent War: The third novel begins about six years after the end of The Rock Rats. The strange interlude where Martin Humphries visits the artifact on a distant asteroid doesn't make sense here, but provides some foundational information for later in the story. After this interlude, the story resumes from the point where it left off six years earlier. A good bit of the length of this third entry in the series is marred by a plodding pace that could have been vastly enhanced by some objective editing. The problem with "middle novel syndrome" continues from The Rock Rats... and, well, this part of the story is just plain less interesting; however it is still worth reading because it provides some of the background needed to fully understand the concluding novel in the series.

The Aftermath: A family of four Rock Rats out prospecting for valuable ores to bring back to their habitat for processing is attacked by a maniac. Their space ship disabled and rendered both deaf and blind when the main fuel tank is punctured, the radar and antennas destroyed. One family member, in an effort to distract the attacker, separates himself from the others using the control pod to abandon ship.  Predictably, the remainder of the story becomes one of searching and survival, with some surprising twists. Mr. Bova manages to bring the interest level almost back up there with The Precipice, yet his slow-paced beginning to the concluding novel of this sequence earns a one-star drop in the rating for this part of the over-all story.

Conclusion: If you're a Ben Bova fan, the series is a must-read. If you like space-opera type stories, with compelling characters, you'd probably like The Precipice, which does well as a stand-alone, and perhaps The Aftermath too. The middle novels don't stand too well on their own so I can't recommend them unless you're into the entire series as I am. Not recommended for readers under age 15 due to sensitive subjects being addressed. If you like these and still want more, this epic is just part of a larger epic known as The Grand Tour.

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