One thousand years after Earth was destroyed in an unprovoked attack, humanity has emerged victorious from a series of terrible wars to assure its place in the galaxy. But during celebrations on humanity’s new homeworld, the legendary Captain Pantillo of the battle carrier Phoenix is court-martialed then killed, and his deputy, Lieutenant Commander Erik Debogande, the heir to humanity’s most powerful industrial family, is framed for his murder. Assisted by Phoenix’s marine commander Trace Thakur, Erik and Phoenix are forced to go on the run as they seek to unravel the conspiracy behind their captain’s demise, pursued to the death by their own fleet. What they discover about the truth behind the wars and the nature of humanity’s ancient alien allies will shake the sentient galaxy to its core.
©2015 Joel Shepherd (P)2015 Audible, Inc.
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"Wow. Really great. Some different approaches"
In Renegade, Shepherd starts a new series that should be classic space opera. It's not. Strong characters, both male and female are a welcome highlight here. On top of that, his space battles rock. His descriptions of the movement of the ships, the punishing forces and multiple directions of force, and the way it might be to try to be a human amidst all of that are brilliant and refreshing. This is the second series I've read from Shepherd. His first book, "Breakaway" was a fast and fun but a bit juvenile. That series got better and more mature as the author did and by the end of the series was some of the best science fiction I've read in a really long time. "Renegade" starts off with that maturity of skill and subject matter and combines a really well considered world. I loved it.
"Made me fall in love with Sci-Fi all over again!"
I took a chance when I got this book as it was brand new and not yet reviewed. Sometimes when you take a chance you come up empty, other times you strike gold. This was one of those golden moments.
This book captivated my imagination and really made me remember why I love Science Fiction.
The characters were excellent, the plot was great, but most of all, the world was immersive and beyond interesting. The universe Joel Shepherd created is intriguing and it has left me wanting more!
Can't wait for the next one!
"Ooh-rah! Love the Marines!"
"We come in peace. Please ignore the bloodstains."
The story is not bad, being the question of what does a huge, influential military do once they have won the war, and now there is no need for them? Do they just retire and play golf? Not bloody likely.
The story takes a long time to rev up; in chapter 4 we finally get enough conversation to get relief from pure, mind-numbing narration, and then this is so full of the "F" word that it is a shocking eye-opener. Didn't see that coming. Finally around chapter 6 something starts happening and we keep going into 5th gear from there. After the exciting escape from jail, things move along pretty well and in the last third of the book there are some great battles and some high action.
The best part? The brotherhood of the Marines. And the best one among them is a woman, and she's believable. She provides the best action, the best camaraderie, the most emotion. You will want to rush out to the Marines recruitment office if you can only become like these fighters!
Our hero, the Lieutenant Commander, has a lot of stereotypes going against him, but he does manage to overcome them and become a distinct personality. There aren't many others.
This would have been a lot better if read by one of the usual space opera narrators. John Lee's speaking style is so overly stuffy and prissy, it infects everything he says. It is a relief when there is conversation because his voicings are not half bad, but still infused with that over-the-top public school accent. "Parallel" becomes "paddle-el" and "her eyes," "heh dies." I thought they were all calling Eric, the Lt. Commander "Elsie" until I realized it was "L. C." Something wrong with the inflection there.
This does not stack up with the great of the genre, but it's not bad, and there will be sequels.
"Perhaps this Year's Surprise 6 -- but stealthy"
Let me begin by saying that John Lee could read a cookbook and give it the subtle impact and nuanced inflection of Richard !!!. So part of my reaction to this book is a result of his performance.
That said, my favorites are Neal Stephenson, Peter F. Hamilton (Void Series), Dan Simmons (Hyperion), Alastair Reynolds (Revelation Space Trilogy, Terminal World), Richard K. Morgan (Altered Carbon) and Charles Stross. (Halting State and Rule 34. -- also Corey's Expanse series.) Although the plot mechanism here is not a complex revelation (no pun intended) the execution is really good.
Military space opera with a pretty standard lead in -- junior command officer has to take over valiant ship and fight his way out of big trouble. A slightly slow start but oddly akin to the beginning of Hamilton's Void. I was totally unprepared for this being so much fun. Don't read it for the new ideas, read it because it is well done. The dialogue, pacing and characters are just that.... a lot of fun. I really hope that this is the first in a series.
(When I read the first book in the "Galbraith" detective series, I almost remarked that it reminded me of another, more sophisticated writer. When I read The Martian I almost stopped because it seemed so simple at first. So this time I'll ask even if it sounds odd....has anyone seen Joel Shepard, Alistair Reynolds and Peter F. Hamilton together in the same place ????)
And by the way, speaking of Richard III -- keep in mind the scene where, left alone with his executioners, the stunned Hastings slowly realizes that Stanley was right all along. Richard is a manipulative, power-hungry traitor, and Hastings has been dangerously overconfident. Always a risk.
"Reminded me of "A Mote in God's Eye""
It reminded me of the SF classic "A Mote in God's Eye," not so much for the details of the plot but for the classical sea-novel flavor of starship-naval life, the brisk pace of development and vivid characterization. The opening scene had me concerned it might end up being just a gung-ho space opera shoot 'em up, but it developed in a very unexpected direction that introduced all kinds of fascinating tensions and ambiguities, which the author handles extremely well. I only wish the series were already finished so I could binge-read it to the end.
My one complaint is the same one I always have with John Lee. To wit: there are very few Brits who can do a convincing American accent (and vice versa), and John Lee is not among them. He keeps attempting "southern," too, which resembles nothing spoken by any human being anywhere, ever. Southerners actually *soften* their "R's" guys, not lean on them so hard it practically makes your teeth hurt.
I don't know where they get this idea that the hard "R" is an indispensable requirement to do "American" but if even the magisterial Patrick Tull gets it wrong I guess Lee shouldn't be too harshly singled out. Fortunately there aren't many "American" characters here and none of them in primary roles, so I cringed through those bits and (mostly) enjoyed the rest of the narration.
"A great grand military scifi story!"
Frankly, I had never heard of the author and only decide to buy and listen when there was nothing else of interest... But, wow!
I was surprised at how interesting the story was and how enjoyable a listen it was. I honestly can say it was in my top 5 of new scifi military books for 2015. John Lee as always is great!
I really look forward to the next one.
"Book two, please."
Really enjoyed this story. It has some of the same old military sci-fi and it has some good twists to enjoy also. The story is fast paced and the book was over before I new it making me beg for more. The narrator was hard to get used to. He seems to have the same matter of fact tone for all the characters and his voice seemed to trail off at the end of each sentence. Toward the end of the book I ether got used to him or he got better. The story made up for it though. I'm really looking forward to book two and have checked for it on Audible several times already.
"Very good writing but very thin on believability"
First, the author writing style is very good and John Lee narrates the story superbly as one comes to expect of him.
After a well-respected and highly honored captain of the starship Phoenix is covertly murdered and the command is transferred to somewhat inexperienced Lieutenant Commander (LC) Erik Debogande who is then framed for the captain's murder. He is saved, single-handedly, by the Phoenix's well respected marine commander, Major Trace Thakur after she divines that the fleet high command is behind the subterfuge. This is the start of where the story becomes less interesting, predictable and treads clumsily into Social Justice Warrior (SJW) territory.
Not only is Erik's family mega-company run by his mother and sister, leaving him to pursue a military career, but he is then led around by Major Thakur pretty much calling all the shots. Additionally, most of her reports are portrayed as brawny, one-dimensional soldiers (grunts), even though she often tells them otherwise. Just when I thought it couldn't get any more farcical, the author matter-of-factly expects us to believe that this lowly ranked marine major is so well-respected, that the entire fleet marine corp will side with her against fleet command.
Disappointingly, except for the luckless murdered captain and the green LC, all the other male command rank characters are the evil villains behind the conspiracy.
"Military sci-fi thriller"
Renegade is Joel Shepherd's Book 1 of the Spiral Wars series. Lt commander Eric Debogande heads 3rd shift on a storied warship that is just coming out of long war with an alien foe that permitted a prior alien race, since defeated, to destroy Earth and rule humanity's diaspora. Even before the cleanup for the ticker tape parade, Eric finds his captain in jail for treason and is subsequently framed for his murder. What follows is a race for the basis of a highly placed cabal cleaning house in space command. Eric and his warship must piece together clues while staying one step ahead of fleet on their tail, along with various alien races with dubious intentions and buried secrets.
The sci-fi elements display faster than light drives necessary for interstellar interactions, while the multiple alien cultures are the main attraction with variety and diversity evident. The real appeal is the complex "geopolitical" intrigue without resorting to the more typical monolithic alien mindset. Under these conditions, old allies and adversaries don't always align correctly leading to confusion, uncertainty, and unique, creative situations. At the same time, humanity is also dealing with internal, divergent interests between "spacers" and "worlders" that is partly the driver for the "evil" cabal Eric is facing off against. One final noteworthy aspect is that while humanity is relatively speaking, the "new kid on the block," they are regarded as one of the more formidable races in the galaxy.
John Lee's narration is another gem of a listen. The range of characters of both genders is excellent, as is both his pacing and tone that meshes well with the back and forth between military action, both in space and marine infantry and political intrigue.
"Amazing. Far more than I expected."
Given the cover art, I was expecting little more from this book than the usual space opera heavy on space battles, and character development consisting of the usual unbelievable success after success.
This book was so much more than that. The world the author builds is deep and creative, defying just the sort of stereotypes that I had resigned myself to at the outset. An involving, believable and epic political backstory, characters who draw introspective insight from their experiences, and aliens that seem all too "human."
The voice talent is top notch too. If you've listened to any of Peter F. Hamilton's books on audible, this is the same narrator.
This was all so much more than I was expecting from what had been a quick purchase to kill some time. In the end, I believe I have found a new favorite author.
Excellent listen. More volumes please. I need to know what happens next. You can't leave the story unfinished!
"Very little happens"
Despite looking forward to a John Lee reading, this was tough work, and I probably paid close attention to only 10% of the story.
The vast majority of the book described in detail the camaraderie of the military folks or plodding action sequences, which don't touch on Neal Asher, and didn't feel relevant to any clear plot.
The main characters are a kid who unconvincing becomes a military genius and his comically competent commando sidekick. Any growth is happenstance and not through described events.
Tantalising tidbits come from the aliens, but that's all left for another book while all we get simple and unimportant human politics.
Boring and I won't listen to the next.
"John Lee is excellent"
None of them
John Lee's narration
I think I will have to change my genre, I'm finding most the science fiction books I bought have become the same old, same old. Space warring is now boring. I keep falling asleep.
a good story with well developed characters and plenty of action! really enjoyed it, kept me hooked throughout
"A proper ripping yarn"
great escapism, ignore those who talk about the slow start. The author is setting the scene.Sometimes when a friend says don't read the synopsis it will spoil it, just read the book it's great. Well for me this is one such book.
Reminds me more of the latest Star Trek films, all impossible but fun to watch and in this instance read
Just going to buy the next in the series, Can't say better than that.
Good story, thought I was going to struggle with the narration but after a couple of chapters I got used to it.
"Brilliant story, great characters."
Great story with brilliant characters that you can really connect with. superbly performed really bringing things to life.
"One of the best audio books ever."
It's been years since I enjoyed an audio book this much. Amazing SciFi story and John Lee is the best as always. Easy recommendation.
could not stop listening. looking forward to book two. some say it started slow but it gave time to invest in the characters.
"Slow start, awesome climax"
A narrator I was familiar with and who always gives good performances.
Story was a little slow to get started but it set the scene for a brilliant climax
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