My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Review: A Diplomat of Mars: War in space

A Diplomat of Mars: War in space A Diplomat of Mars: War in space by Stephan Bellesini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book: ***
Performance: ****

A Simple [Christian] Space Opera

It’s a space opera, so the normal science rules do not apply (except where convenient). The story really revolves around a few [earth] warships out by Titan and a mysterious girl at the center of a conspiracy that strains credulity … but it’s an opera, so that is ok. In fact, this is really a mash-up with the Christian fantasy genre, and it you judge it strictly on that, it was actually a pretty good story. The good guys are really good and the bad guys are really bad and there are a handful of traitors just in it for the 30 silver. While there is a little preaching here, it is generally not forced and logically fits in the storyline … so kudos for that; however, like many in the genre, there really isn’t a lot of constancy here (or if there was, I missed it). The warships are armed with cannons … which seem to actually be mass projectors (eg. canon balls?) with segregated gun decks (one side for women and one side for men … and not patty fingers if you please, at least without a chaperone. Acceleration and maneuver are done via magic hand waving and comms are instantaneous using EM tech.

Basically think "Master and Commander" in space and you get the feel. Of course the whole watch bells was way off with a bell system that was totally incomprehensible even after it was explained. For the record, in naval terms a watch would generally be 4 hrs with one bell each 30 mins (so 8 bells is the change of watch). A dog watch is designed to sift the watch rotation … and is half a normal watch (you could also go the other way a lengthen the watch (sometimes know as a Swedish watch rotation). Of course the is a limited cast of characters driving these capital ships, so when one character is assigned as the cook for the entire crew, she whips up burgers and fries in a fry pan all by herself … learning how to do this from scratch in a little less than 2 hrs. Refer to rule 1 … it’s a space opera … learn to let go (still working on that myself).

The audio production is actually pretty good … with sound effects and good voice differential. In fact, it is the narration that pulls this book up from a slightly subpar feel good story filled with mary sues into the realm of being a fun, if fairly silly, listen. The background music can get a little over dramatic and annoying at times, but it does help take you mind of the speechifying and moralizing goin’ on (sure … I have a quirky sense of humor and this just tickled it all the time … no sure if that was intentional so YMMV). It was really only a problem during the long stretch where the hero catches up on family emails that droned on so long I almost started skipping sections until it got better. Over all, I enjoyed it enough to round up a star.

I was given this free advance review/listener copy (ARC) audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#ADiplomatOfMars #FreeAudiobkFacebkGrp

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.