Author: Joshua Done
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: The Zharmae Publishing Press
Before starting this review it is important to know that I’m reviewing this book pre the request of author Joshua Done and the copy I’m reviewing was given to me by the publisher. This will not effect my review in anyway but I feel professionalism in matters like this calls for transparency, so I wanted this to be the first thing you knew.
I don’t read as much as I use too. I’m not sure why this is, as I use to be something of a book snob. But as time has gone on i’ve turned more towards TV, Movies and (of course) Video Games for my entertainment needs. So when I was offered the chance to review Joshua Done’s novel “The Exile Empire” I thought “sure, why not. If nothing else this will give me an excuses to start reading again”. Unfortunately, while I wouldn’t say the book is bad, it just didn’t captivate me the way I need a book too in order to get really excited about it.
The book is set in the 25th century: for hundreds of years Mankind has pushed into the stars, creating innumerable colonies and raising the population to over 13 trillion. But that changed when the Harvesters attacked. When the two spices met war broke out, and mankind lost. For there, things only got worse. In a last ditch effort, the humans staged an attack on the Harvesters homeworld only to find it already under attack. In little time this new combatant, aptly named The Death, put the Harvesters to ruin, and their turned their attention to man kind. In just over three hours the unimaginably large swarm of The Death had over run all human defenses, and sent what little of mankind was left scattering into the stars once more, looking for a new home.
And that was just the Prologue.
The book proper opens with man kind still looking for a new place too call home while also having to deal with the surviving Harvesters. Things aren’t going so well until the humans meet Prince Tinek and his strangely humanoid people, the Illani. They too have been driven off their home planet when a war broke out between them and the Tarin’Tal. The Humans, after learning that the Tarin’Tal are a much more manageable for than the Harvesters, decided to help Prince Tinek and his people in exchange for some land to call their. Does the plain work? Does the human race find a new home, or are we destined to travel among the stars forever, never knowing the feel of grass and a cool breeze again? You’ll Have to read the book to find out.
I said earlier that I didn’t think the book wasn’t bad, and I mean that, but there are some issues I find hard to overlook. The first is the books need for an editor. While this doesn’t read like a first draft, but there are a lot of times where I felt like if some one called up Done and said “this bit doesn’t make a lot of sense, could you reword it” the book would have been better. For example, in the Prologue he mentions how Fleet Admiral Hancock “…tried to console himself with the justifications of war, rationalizing that the authority of the Harvester War Charters validated the slaughter.” This make it sound like he’s trying to justify his actions, but then we latter learn that this is more him reflecting on the brutality of The Death. While I understand that just witnessing something like this can lead to the same level of PTSD Hancock is clearly suffering from, I can’t help but feel that id Done had reworded this, or rearranged the order we got certain information in the book would have benefited tremendously.
The second issue is that, with all the inspirations the book wears on it’s sleeves, it never manages to live up to any of the. There are pretty clear parallels between this and both “Battlestar Galactica” and “Enders Game” and the only real thing this book has above either of those is that Joshua Done isn’t the Homophobic prick Orson Scott Card is (which, to be fair, is a pretty big plus as far as I’m concerned). A lot of the time, after I got done with a reading session I’d head over to netflix and see if they readied BSG because I was so reminded of it, but not as fulfilled as I was while watching the show. In the shows absence I’m glad to have the book, as it does hit the same notes, just not as well. Kind of like a subpar but not unlistenable cover of one of your favorite songs.
The best thing I can say about the book is that i’ve read a lot of first efforts from writers I love that are much worse than this. If you’re looking for some good pulp sci-fi you could do worse. This isn’t in “so bad it’s good” territory, but it’s more a “there’s nothing else on so why not” kind of thing. Personally, I found I’d read a chapter a day or every other day and was satisfied. I do think you’ll enjoy the book, just temper you’re expectations.