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Deathstalker (2006)

Deathstalker (2006)

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3.91 of 5 Votes: 3
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0575601604 (ISBN13: 9780575601604)

About book Deathstalker (2006)

DeathstalkerBook 1 of DeathstalkerBy Simon R. GreenA Deathstalker Retrospective by Eric AllenWelcome to my new retrospective series. We've looked at Science Fiction series in retrospective, and we've looked at Fantasy series in retrospective. Now, let's take a look at something called Science Fantasy. Science Fantasy has elements of both Science Fiction and Fantasy in it that prevents it from being readily assigned to either genre. A Science Fantasy story will typically make use of both futuristic and archaic weaponry, such as swords alongside laser guns, and will usually have some sort of mystical power, be it magic, "the Force" or some other sort of inexplicable power. A good example in the mainstream world of Science Fantasy would be the Star Wars series. This time we're going to take a close look at Deathstalker, the Science Fantasy Series series by Simon R. Green. Green is best well known for his Urban Fantasy Nightside series, but his less well known Deathstalker is the far more entertaining of his works in my opinion. Owen Deathstalker is the latest in a long line of warriors. The problem is, that he just wants to be left alone with his work as a historian. But Empress Lionstone the XIV, A.K.A. the Iron Bitch, has other plans. When she outlaws him, Owen must flee his quiet life of studying the history of the Empire on a quest left by his father after his murder, seeking out a motley crew of expatriots, bounty hunters, and mercenaries. Together they set out in search of the legendary Darkvoid device, secreted away long ago by Owen's distant ancestor, the first Deathstalker. With its power, a thousand suns were extinguished, and billions killed. His aim is to use it as leverage against the empire, and keep it out of the Iron Bitch's hands at all costs.The good? The characters and dialog between them are by far the best part of this book. Each character has a unique and likeable personality, and they say the most entertainingly hilarious things to each other through out the book. The sarcastic humor that the author employs in pretty much every single scene, along with the completely ridiculous insults that the characters continually hurl at each other make this book a whole lot of fun.The world in which this book takes place is pretty interesting. Green has created a great corrupt empire ripe for the overthrowing, with numerous factions of rebels, nobility that is constantly at each others' throats, and a bunch of really sadistic people out for themselves. Though the history of this universe is very fluid, changing to fit whatever is happening in whichever book in this series, a lot of it is pretty awesome as well. There's a lot of mystery surrounding the past, and what things were originally made for, and if the backstory does tend to change to fit the situation every now and again, it's not too big of a distraction.Green has created a pretty realistic scenario for why people use swords and such when they've also got laser guns. Projectile weaponry has been outlawed, and the lasers have a recharge time of several minutes, after which time people must still be able to fight and defend themselves. The fact that there is an explanation behind it at all shows that Green put some thought and effort into it. Most authors don't ever bother to explain why their characters, in possession of futuristic weaponry, would bother picking up a sword to fight with. *cough*George Lucas*cough*The bad? As I mentioned before, Green is very big on the fluid backstory. I mean, even here, in the first book, the history and reasons behind things change visibly once or twice, contradicting one another. And on top of that, the book is not very well written. Green has a habit of taking a handful of phrases that he thinks sound really cool, and using the hell out of them, repeating them over, and over, and over again to describe things. They were cool sounding the first once or twice, but after the seventeeth time someone's grin is described as a "death's head grin" or two people fight "both masters of their art, neither asking for quarter or giving any" it gets a little old. The descriptive elements are a little lacking as well, but the personality and humor more than makes up for these shortfalls.This book is called Deathstalker. This series is called Deathstalker. Owen Deathstalker... is in less than a third of the page count. The main character of the series, the one that both the series and the book are named for, is actually a minor character in this book. The vast majority of this first volume in the series is setup for infighting amongst the nobility, and introducing other conflicts and aspects of the empire that Owen will eventually go on to overthrow. He basically takes the back seat to his own story while the author builds up the world and situations that will impact him in future additions to the series. Normally, an author would find a better way of introducing all of this stuff than completely ignoring their main plot and characters. I know several people who never read past the first book in this series because of it.In conclusion, this book is not very well written, and does have its share of problems. The backstory is very fluid, frequently changing in contradictory manners throughout, and the author has a bunch of phrases that he uses with highly annoying repetition. However... sometimes a book is so incredibly entertaining, that none of that really matters. It's a rare thing, but it does happen. Take Harry Potter for example. TERRIBLY written series, but it is still a lot of fun and very entertaining. It's the same with Deathstalker. I find that the characters and the dialog are so much fun, that I don't even care that the writing is crap, or the continuity is all over the place. If you don't care how well written a book is, or can look past bad writing to the story and characters, and don't mind that the main plot of the series doesn't really get going until book two, you'll probably have a blast with this one. I highly recommend picking it up. Next month we'll take a look at the second book in the Deathstalker series: Deathstalker Rebellion. As always, thanks for reading. Check out my other reviews.

Great laser-mounted cannons of excess! What is this nonsense?In one first volume of a space opera we have, in no discernible order: Mob-style family feuds! A merciless and corrupt ruler! A hope for the future of Humanity* macguffin! Imprisoned empaths! Clones! A lecherous old woman-hater in charge! Two ninjas who both disguise themselves as Emo Philips! A reluctant hero! A rag-tag band of sidekicks! Killer whores! Naked assassin sex-slaves! Gay assassins in love! Rooftop-guardian-angel-assassin! A washed-up ex-hero who comes out of retirement To Do the Right Thing! A washed-up dead hero who comes back to life To Do the Right Thing! Lesbian polyamory which everyone goes out of their way to point out is icky! Flying bouncy castle!Now, all of these things are fine by themselves** and I could, I think, see them working together in a much better book. Think, for instance, what they might be like all together in a Discworld book. But here, they not just beggar belief but strip it of tickets, money, passport, clothes and dignity. What. In the everloving fuck. Owen Deathstalker (historian, no death-stalking thank you very much) is mysteriously and suddenly outlawed by Empress Lionstone and very much a persona non-grata in the Empire, with a very big price on his head. He teams up with another outlaw on the run, who mysteriously does not turn him in for the reward, and they put together a band of ragtag sidekicks, none of whom turn Owen in for the reward because apparently no one in this book is into food*** or paying rent. The sidekicks go on a macguffin quest put in place by Owen's dead father, and somewhere along the way Owen quits being a historian and is all OH TOTALLY I DEATHSTALK, THIS IS WHAT I DO and is naturally a bamf despite the fact that on the cover of my copy, he is portrayed as cross-eyed and kind of skinny, wearing a jester-style catsuit (none of which says bamf as much as it says "escaped from an institution"). Meanwhile, in a whole other part of the book, there is lots of court intrigue, starring many Mob-style families who vie for power. Which is all fine and good, except that Green likes to go on at length about the rules of vying, and then halfway through the book one of the families blatantly ignores all those rules and goes batshit on another with exactly zero consequences. Plot wherefore art thou. This could've been a fun romp. But instead it's just a mess. Green writes his characters out of way too many tight spots by introducing new mythology or a secret weapon CONVENIENTLY HIDDEN RIGHT HERE and immediately deploying it, or having characters step...out of character for a moment. FOR PLOT! (Huzzah).It's hacky. It's clunky. It's sad. And they're really bad Emo Phillips impersonators. No love.*Yes, capitalized. Which always tits me off sideways. **Except the lesbian polyamory-shaming, which can just foad, thanks.***Seriously. Not one meal is eaten in 550 pages. Including, at one point, when Owen and friends have been on the run, bopping bad guys on the head for like, two days. Without eating.

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This is very middle of the road for me - it is entertaining enough for me to finish and to read at a good pace - the learning curve is low so the reader does not get tripped up on too many out of place names or places, however, I also feel that the names were - cheesy - Owen is easy to remember, but Deathstalker - Noun-Verber it is - John Random? - Hazel Dark? sorry, I mean, D'Ark - remember, when you use an apostrophe, replace it with a *cough* - The story is very straight ahead, and each chapter follows a single character and a third person point of view - the downside on this is that more pages are devoted to the enemy than the supposed hero, who really, he is a hero because the author makes it so, not because he does anything heroicSimon R Green has a writing style that I enjoy, and I fly through his pages, and the characters are not horrible they are just - there - I wait patiently for more substance, but this is a high sugar and caffeine rush with no substance, and I am left hungry when the pages close - I did finish, so that places this as a three star minimum, but I cannot give it anything higher, because as the first book in a series, it is the only one I will read - and I will likely trade it in for something else the next trip to the used book store.

For the most part, this is a rollicking space opera, clearly (and admittedly) inspired by Star Wars. An evil empire, a fledgling rebellion, casual planet-hopping in a galaxy full of strange powers and stranger secrets... it's hard not to imagine Lucas filming it. The whole thing feels half-improvised, though, with a few outright contradictions in its own plot by the end, not to mention a few too many out-of-the-blue twists. I also tired of the colloquial English-based narration, particularly Green's frequent use of "bloody" (in the British slang sense.) If Goodreads allowed it, I'd tack an extra half-star onto the three, here - when it works, it's actually rather fun, just not fun enough to convince me to read further.

Dreadful. Repetitive language and tropes ("lithely muscular" over and over again, exploding heads, about 5 mysterious master swordsmen), stiff and stereotypical characters, a plot that doesn't really make much sense, "political intrigue" that's completely unconvincing, villains with the sophistication of Skeletor...Yeah, the popularity of this book baffles me. If you want space opera, there are authors out there (Alastair Reynolds for one) who can actually write it in a manner which resembles literature, not a random scrawl which reads like its never even been edited by the author himself, never mind a publishing house.

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