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Along the way It took a little too long for things to really catch on in this one. Along the way, there are several other mysteries un-earthed, and it became too much for a small page paperback I'm pretty sure the first mystery, of why the Capella disappeared, was never clearly resolved, just chalked up to "these things happen". The premise is reminiscent of what many recent books have tried since "The Da Vinci Code" hit, namely, a historical thriller think also "National Treasure" , which I think also soured my taste on it as a whole.
Transferred to a sci-fi setting made it more palatable, but it wasn't terribly engaging to me especially since the first bit of true action doesn't occur until Chapter 17 or so. The main character, Alex Benedict, didn't really capture me, either, not in a way you would hope seeing as how I saw him often described as an "outer space Indiana Jones".
His later relationship with his companion, Chase, also rang false to me, and never felt very fleshed out. I was hoping this would turn into a new series for me, but I'm not in a hurry to try the sequels, despite being written some 15 years later. It must take a particular type of reader to enjoy this book. I found it unutterably boring. The story is a not-really-murder mystery, although people do die. I enjoy mysteries, but only when the plot and characters are engaging. Here, they are not.
There are two principal characters, and dozens of secondary characters.
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You never learn enough about any of them to care about them. The story itself is the main character's journey though a long line of faint clues, starting with the disappearance of It must take a particular type of reader to enjoy this book. The story itself is the main character's journey though a long line of faint clues, starting with the disappearance of a ship, and its eventual discovery. When the reason for its disappearance was finally revealed, I was left with two significant negative reactions: - It made no sense to me why the people worked so hard to keep the secret.
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Another major event - the destruction of a star, is thrown in for no apparent reason. It seems to have no relation to anything else. Maybe I'm just not smart enough to follow the subtle details that might make this book interesting. If that's the case, my bet is that I'm not alone. Based on the reviews, I'm hoping for more from book 2. Jan 23, Bill rated it did not like it. As most reviews have warned, this story is told in a very dull manner. I bought this and Polaris at the same time so hopefully that one is much better once I decide to get to it.
Disappointing, though. Even with the reviews I had read I still thought this would float my boat. Aug 06, Leather rated it it was ok. This is the first installment of the Alex Benedict series, in which an antiquarian accompanied by his sidekick, the pilot Chase Kolpath, solves historical mysteries. Mysteries that are located in our distant future, thousands of years after human swarming in the stars. But this society of the future looks a lot like ours, it is neither very exotic nor very credible.
It is roughly the society of today: media with long teeth, politicians more or less competent, academia, administrations, etc. At t This is the first installment of the Alex Benedict series, in which an antiquarian accompanied by his sidekick, the pilot Chase Kolpath, solves historical mysteries. At the science level, apart from a few flying cars, advanced AIs and the ability to travel at high speed between stars, there is not much else. This first part foreshadows what will be the series: a mixture of space aventure and Easter egg hunting with here and there long boring parts false tracks not interesting led at snail's pace, detailed description of trivial situations without real interest, defects that can be found in all the books of the author.
The main plot of the book is investigating the figurehead of the war that pitted humanity years earlier against the Ashiyyur, the only alien species humanity has ever encountered in thousands of years of exploration. As usual the treatment of the story is sometimes captivating, sometimes soporific.
The book concludes very weirdly, abruptly. Again, nothing unusual, McDevitt cultivates his reader's frustration as others grow potatoes or carrots.
A Talent For War by McDevitt, Jack
But the plot is intriguing and I enjoy reading the book to the end, despite its flaws. Some books of the series are much better Seeker, Eye of the Devil and I strongly suggest to read those before this one. There are no real links between the books. Notes: - This first part is almost 30 years old, and some aspects of the book are not completely connected with the rest of the series, but only on a few details. In all the following to date it is Chase Kolpath who tells her adventure. Sep 20, Richard added it Shelves: read-in I'm pulling out of this one at the halfway point.
I like the pitch - a "historical mystery" set in the future, but the character development just isn't there and god it's boring. That said, it seems like this was the author's first book and some of his fans find it dull and atypical of McDevitt's work, so I wouldn't completely rule out giving him another shot in the future. Apr 24, Lars Dradrach rated it it was amazing Shelves: e-book.
Simply amazing that this little masterpiece is so relatively unknown, it belongs up with the bests. The story expands slowly but at the same time builds a very convincing atmosphere of old empire mystic which are slowly revealed, there's a certain Star Wars feeling about it. I simply have to pick up some of the other books in the series. Jul 05, Scott Holstad rated it really liked it.
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A Talent for War is an excellent mystery for a sci fi novel. Jack McDevitt has a real talent for creating new worlds, alien species, archeologies, suspense, and science fiction in general. I really like his books. In this book, Alex Benedict finds out that his uncle Gabe dies, or rather disappears, in a star ship and leaves his estate to his favorite nephew. Alex moves home -- he grew up with Gabe -- only to find the house has been broken into and a few things have been stolen, including an impor A Talent for War is an excellent mystery for a sci fi novel.
Alex moves home -- he grew up with Gabe -- only to find the house has been broken into and a few things have been stolen, including an important file Gave wanted him to have. Gabe left him a holo telling him he was working on a project and that Alex should find it and continue on, that he would know what to do. And so the mystery begins.
A Talent for War (Alex Benedict - Book 1)
With the help of the house's AI, Alex starts researching various things. First of all, the entire human universe worships the legacy of war hero Christopher Sim, who while getting killed in the process, helped to beat an invading alien horde that had been annihilating human worlds. Sim, and his brother, an orator who also died, has shrines dedicated to him on virtually every world you visit. Then there's Tanner, a woman who wanted to make peace, then war, with the aliens and who wrote extensively about her experiences. There's also a poet whose writings seem to have codes in them, if only they were understandable.
A woman shows up at Alex's house named Chase. She's a pilot and she had been hired by Gabe to take him way out in space for a couple of months and she wants to get paid. She ends up being a big part of the story and ends up helping Alex out with his research and travels, because he starts traveling to other cities and planets as the mystery unfolds. He finds out that a ship has been out to a distant part of the universe, come back, but can find nothing about it as everything is classified, including even the crew list.
However, he finds out who one of the crew members is and starts trying to track him down. And it seems everywhere he goes, this guy, Hugh, has already been there, one step ahead of him. Why is everything classified? Sim died in a glorious way with seven volunteers he brought up from a planet to fight with him before his ship was blown out of the sky. But things are strange.
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Turns out his ship makes appearances at this planet one day and then at another planet that should take 11 days to get there some four days later and so on. How does he accomplish this? And who is Matt Olander? How does he figure into this? How exactly is he a war hero? Alex's home is broken into again and then, when he and Chase are on another planet, a woman Alex has gone on a few dates with comes up to him in a restaurant and tells him she's planted a bomb on his skimmer, which Chase is using, and to get her out of there.
He's dumbfounded. Turns out she's the one who's been breaking in, stealing stuff, and trying to kill him. Cause he's getting too close to the truth. Whatever that is. He radios Chase, but it's nearly too late, so he and this woman take off to go save her and find her in the ocean due to a blown up, disintegrated skimmer, where he rescues her, but the woman dies. Stranger and stranger. I could keep going on and on, but I'll just say it's a fascinating history that McDevitt constructs and a wonderful mystery that he creates and while it can get a little dry at times and while there are too many city and planet names, and people for that matter, to remember, it's a great story and as you build to the climax, it becomes a real page turner and I couldn't put the book down over the last 75 pages.
The last quarter of the book is shocking, starting with the truth about Olander and Sim, then with the remainder of the novel, followed by the epilogue. This is the first in a series and now I want to read the others. I guess I'll have to put them on my Amazon Wish List. The only reason I'm not giving this book five stars is because it does drag and there is a lot of monologue and history and poetry and mythology and it can get pretty dry for extended periods of time. But I still enjoyed it and heartily recommend it. The novel takes place about 9, years in the future. Space travel has been perfected enabling human civilizations to expand through a large part of our galaxy.
However, unfriendly alien civilizations are also encountered.
The message mentions an unfinished project that would be extremely lucrative for Alex to pursue. He eventually begins to unravel the mystery, but the closer he gets to the concealed information, the more nefarious the plot becomes. Alex and his collaborators encounter frustrating, difficult and very dangerous circumstances as they close in on the prize.
This is a very complex book with a multitude of characters and long detailed descriptions of the history of this future world. Many of those characters and historical descriptions are not important to the story, but they do reveal a richer ambiance for the reader.
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