This omnibus collects all the John Christian Falkenberg novels. It consists of:
Prince of Mercenaries
Go Tell the Spartans
Prince of Sparta
The story ranges from the fall of the CoDominium to the rise of Sparta and the First Empire of Man that replaces it. However the macro story takes a backseat to the battles.
This is solid military SciFi. However, the fact that the first two novels are in fact lashups of earlier works set to a common frame gives the whole story a somewhat disjointed feel. The individual episodes are good though, and so are the characters. Interestingly, these novels are set in the same universe as The Mote in God’s Eye, but centuries earlier.
The story is rather cliche and it has been done before. Alien race kidnaps band of earth soldiers. Commander of band is a student of military history. Band is plonked down on an alien world inhabited by primitive humans. Mayhem ensues.
Nothing like an old seventies classic, down to the black and white illustrations. Pournelle does well when there is a strong military component. I did not have great hopes for this title, but it grew on me. Both the macroplot (the aliens) and the microplot (showing the locals how to use a pike) work very well. As usual, feelings and relationships are almost painfully caricaturised, but I suppose you read this sort of thing for the battles and the strategy. Good clean fun if you like this sort of thing, but hardly a book for the ages.
Set in the same universe as The Prince and The Mote in God’s Eye, this is the story of a human colony planet that has regressed technology wise. It now needs to prove that it can put a ship into orbit in order to gain full membership in the Empire. Mildly entertaining, but not much more.
If you can get past the vintage seventies feel of the book, this is a decent and rather simple story about a young convict who comes to Mars and later leads a freedom fight. Oh, and he also finds love and belonging, of course.
This book has no discernible story. There are some good ideas but they are squandered. I wish these two geniuses would have hired some young fireplug to do the actual writing off their outline. That way their cool concepts would have made for a legible novel. Niven & Pournelle are just not the team they used to be.
While The Mote in God’s Eye is easily one of the best Science Fiction novels of all time, this sequel is barely worth slogging through. All the epic elements are lost, the few good ideas aren’t developed properly and it is just plain boring. Shame.
Note: In the United Kingdom it was released with the title “The Moat around Murcheson’s Eye”.
Slightly bizarre novel about a world where the greens have won and technology is, if not exactly outlawed, at least frowned upon. The lack of industry has brought on a new ice age. As a couple of astronauts (they stayed up there after the revolution) are stranded on Earth, undercover SciFi Fans come to the rescue. A lot of fun.
Author Allen Carpentier is at a science fiction convention when he falls out of the window of his hotel room. He finds himself in Hell. Determined to grasp control of the situation and achieve redemption, he starts on a journey through a slightly modified version of Dante‘s hell, guided by a man called Benito.
The idea behind this novel is classic. A modern retelling of Dante’s Inferno! Great fun despite the subject matter.
Arguably the best story about first contact ever written. A ship comes careening into a human system. The pilot is dead, and strange, and it has apparently traveled for years at sublight speeds to get there. Even more strange is the fact that the ship hardly seems enough to sustain it. Two ships are dispatched to a star system hidden inside a nebula to contact the aliens. The society of “Moties” they find is very strange, and very fascinating, almost as fascinating as the creatures themselves. What they fail to realize is that the truth behind Motie society is deeply disturbing and will be a danger to all humanity.
It has aged very slightly due to the its being written in the seventies, but this hardly detracts from the magnificence of this novel. Manages to capture the essence of encountering the truly alien, and how humans have a hard time not placing their own values and prejudices on that which they do not understand.