Humanity's last encounter with aliens saw 16.2 billion people killed in a war with the Merkiaari that had spanned decades.
Two hundred years later, the Alliance is cautiously exploring beyond its borders again, but the survey corp is considered a mere gesture by some. General Burgton of the 501st Infantry Regiment believes a lack of expansion is leading the Alliance into stagnation. So when one small ship discovers a new alien race, it should be an easy decision to make contact, but what if the aliens are like the Merkiaari?
Captain Jeff Colgan of the survey ship ASN Canada is at the tip of the spear. His ship made the discovery, his crew's lives are on the line, and his decisions will decide the outcome. Will the Alliance make new friends or will he be responsible for another 16 billion deaths? When the aliens discover his ship and begin hunting him through their system, his mission changes from one of study to one of survival.
©2012 Mark E. Cooper (P)2014 Mark E. Cooper
This is the second time I've listened to this book, I enjoyed it as much as the 1st time, now onto Book 2!
Up front, no mind-twisting serious depth here, and many plot and execution flaws... but somehow it kept me smiling and listening. I hate to say I keep thinking of it as "Young/Juvenile Science Fiction", but that's how it feels to me. Part of me wants to say "Shallow", but a bigger part enjoyed it. I've bought Book 2, So I guess buying the next book in the series is proof that there is enough here to keep me listening, while hoping the story line matures.
"good space opera that will keep Scifi fans..."
When you start reading “Hard Duty: The Merkiaari Wars, 1” you know you are in for a large and complex story over many light years of travel, across various planets and alien races. The human race has learned the hard way that the murderous Merkiaari are out to exterminate them. After many lengthy and devastating battles, the humans have pushed the enemy out, but not defeated them. Humanity is now cautious and wary about aliens, hiding their many planets through cloaked communications and other means. So when they discover the Shan, a newly discovered alien race with limited space capability, the human explores are unsure whether to warn them about the Merkiaari or simply stay hidden and let fate run its course.
The Shan are a feline alien race which Mark Cooper develops well. He creates interesting characters that the reader will identify with and care about. The Merkiaari on the other hand are not described much at all, just blood thirsty aliens with an unknown agenda. Without listening to the sequels, it is hard to say how this will develop, but by the quality of the story, it should be worked out to the reader’s satisfaction eventually.
This is a solid listen, good characters, and mostly good hard sci-fi. The exception is a long section about making the ship’s voice recognition device small enough to be portable. Really? You mean in 500 years no one will improve on my already outdated iPhone. On the other hand there are lots of cool tech ideas like anti-gravity, nanotech, plasma rifles, etc.
The narration is excellent. Mikael Naramore has narrated dozens of sci-fi novels and is a true pro. He puts some cool sound effects in when one of the characters is listening to his own computer voice. You know who is who, but Mikael doesn’t overdo it. As close to perfect as narration can get.
Hard Duty is good space opera that will keep Scifi fans entertained for many hours. Well worth listening to.
Audiobook provided for review by the author.
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"Very appropriate to call this a 'space opera'"
So why do I think it was appropriate to call this title a "space opera?" Unless you're a huge fan of opera you'll likely find the experience somewhat tedious intermingled with moments of brilliance. That's about how I felt about "Hard Duty." If you're a fan of the series or the author (it turns out that although this is called book 1 it was actually written as a "prequel" after book 2) you'll likely love this book - just look at the number of positive reviews. If you're just reading it as a stand-alone book you might be less than satisfied, which would explain the rest of the reviews.
The overall storyline is good - two alien races nearly wiped out by the evil Merkiaari meet for the first time. Can they see past the terrible scars those encounters left to make a peaceful first contact, or will their justifiable mutual distrust doom the attempt? I loved the first face-to-face meeting of the races - let's just say it doesn't quite go as planned. Narration is good as well - no monotone recitals and good differentiation of characters. There's a lot of characters, so if 1 or 2 of them sound alike that's okay.
The bigger problems really come from the storytelling and progression. There are multiple storylines here. One of them gets dropped 1/3 into the book and doesn't show up again until the very end, and never gets tied to the rest of the plot. The other storyline is more cohesive, but it is difficult to gauge the passage of time and what happens in parallel with what. Both stories end abruptly and not particularly satisfactorily. Probably this is less apparent if you are familiar with the other books in the series. Knowing then what I know now, I might have started with book two.
Overall it's not a bad book, particularly (I believe) if you come into it with some foreknowledge of what is going on. I may still give Book 2 a try because there is some solid storytelling here, even if the overall book may have benefitted from some additional editing.
"An enjoyable and exciting story"
Hard Duty is a great book, and makes for an excellent audiobook version as well. Mikael Narramore is perfectly cast as the narrator for this series' main character. The performance draws you in immediately, and holds your attention hard and fast. In regards to the story itself, it's choked full of intricate and colorful detail that never feels boring or overwhelming, as well as action and intrigue to spare. Overall I would absolutely recommend this version of Hard Duty, and I myself will be looking forward to enjoying the rest of the series.
"Highly enjoyable Sci-Fi Series"
I received a review copy from the author for an unbiased review.
I'd been looking for a new sci-fi series to get stuck into and I believe I've found it in the Merkiaari Wars series by Mark E. Cooper. The action and build up was great, kept me listening long after I had intended to take a break, I wanted to hear what would happen next, especially when humanity discovered and observed a new alien race. There were times where I felt the female characters all had the same character, although this could have been done to the male narrator's voicing of them! Enjoyed this first book so much when I was just over half way through it I went and ordered the second in the series!
"Gripping sci-fi story"
I received a review copy from the author for an unbiased review.
It's been a while since I read a 'hard sci-fi' book, and I must say it was a pleasant break from all the YA Dystopian I've listened to lately. The narration was top-notch, the characters were interesting, and the whole set-up reminded me a bit of Star Trek (which I'm a huge fan of): an exploration ship that will go where no-one has gone before. If you like classic sci-fi and lots of action and excitement, definitely pick this one up. It's the beginning of an entire series, by the way :)
I have read 1-4, can't wait for book 5.. listening to this has really added to it by bringing out all the names I couldn't pronounce... Thanks Mark...
"Original characters and well developed story!"
The characters are very likeable and portrayed in a very believable manner. I look forward to the rest of this series.
"I enjoyed this novel"
The story here really had be captivated. I really enjoy having a series of books to listen too. I will definitely look for more from this author!
"Ended way too soon!"
I would definitely recommend this story to anyone who loves science fiction. It is well crafted so you can get a feel for the alien culture.
When the Merkiaari landed on the Shan homeworld, bent on destroying it and a humble agricultural scientist becomes something more than she knew she was capable of becoming.
I love the Shan characters. All of them.
Yes. And when it ended, I yelled "noooooo!" Because it was over.
I can't wait to get the next one in the series.
"Gripping and exciting!"
Definitely. Mark E Cooper has written a book that is both believable for humanity's future but also has that sparkle of science fiction that we all crave for. As the story progressed I found myself drawn in and felt almost like a part of the crew hoping that the mission would be successful and Mikael Naramore does such a wonderful job bringing life to the characters that I'm now champing at the bit to see how the story continues in the second book.
Most of my previous science fiction reading has been limited to more battle focused series and this has been a wonderful change of pace for me that I don't honestly think I can compare it to my previous experience.
James grew to be my favourite as the story progressed but Captain Colgan was a firm favourite from start to finish as well. Where James developed into himself and found purpose as his story progressed Jeff Colgan exuded calm confidence and reliability mixed with a compassionate side and a need to get the job done.
Without wanting to post a spoiler(so no names) but the death of a father is always hard especially when he is tring to stay calm for the sake of a young child.
A superlative story well written and delivered I would recommend this book to everyone who wants to escape into the stars and meet new races :)
"A good enjoyable read"
Enjoyed the 1st 2 books and now trying to get the 3rd .but looks like I have to buy the full series just to get the last in the series.
"Weak storyline with wooden characters"
Youngsters starting out on SciFi?
Something more mature and accomplished.
Disjointed even from part of a saga.
More Hard Work than Hard Duty...
"Exciting story, with interesting characters."
One of the top. Its never boring, the story moves along at a great pace. The battles are exciting, the baddies are suitably evil and the story universe is excellent. All the characters make reasonable decisions. I've read several stories recently where somebody does something completely out of character, where its a plot device just to put themselves in danger. For a pleasant change, I never found myself saying "nobody is that stupid" while listening.
Very much like a good Star Trek story arc. With plenty of battles and no holodeck.
James. I thought he was going to be annoying at first, but he turned out to be rather cool.
He made the story very exciting at the right moments, I found myself holding my breath while waiting to find out what happened next. Also, the computer and faulty translator voices were done well, it added to the story.
Great listen, looking forward to the next one.
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