Synopsis from Goodreads: Faith is the name humanity has given to the unknown, seemingly invincible alien ship that has begun to harass the newly emergent Commonwealth. 300 years earlier, the same ship destroyed the Sakhran Empire, allowing the Commonwealth to expand its sphere of influence. But now Faith has returned! The ship is as devastating as before, and its attacks leave some Commonwealth solar systems in chaos. Eventually it reaches Sakhra, now an important Commonwealth possession, and it seems like history is about to repeat itself. But this time, something is waiting: an Outsider, one of the Commonwealth”s ultimate warships. Slender silver ships, full of functionality and crewed by people of unusual abilities, often sociopaths or psychopaths, Outsiders were conceived in back alleys, built and launched in secret, and commissioned without ceremony. One system away from earth, the Outsider ship Charles Manson makes a stand. Commander Foord waits with his crew of miscreants and sociopath, hoping to accomplish what no other human has been able to do – to destroy Faith!
The reviewer is obviously stuck on this review. He even used a ‘Goodreads’ summery to start the review, and he never does that. He has been staring at the opening to his review of ‘Faith’ for so long he has started talking to himself. Worse, some kind of internal narrator has turned on. Let’s zoom in closer and see if we can listen in.
The worst part is I don’t even know if I liked the book or not. On the whole I mean. Obviously I liked, even loved some of it, but did I enjoy the whole? A book that certainly didn’t deserve to end up forgotten as it seems to have been, but perhaps not as good as I had hoped based on others glowing reviews.
Ah, a rough start, but he seems to be falling into a familiar rhythm.
For over a hundred pages I was completely hooked. One hundred percent sucked in, near perfection in the form of a space battle. Pick your metaphor, Ahab and his whale, the Bismarck and the Hood, whatever you want; a cat and mouse game with two cats. Every move countered beautifully, an unknown chess master against a genius madman. This is not a low rent space battle where ship X shoots lasers at ship Y then describe the explosion. This was a tactical masterpiece. Loved it.
The beginning of the book was pointless. Completely pointless. I spent forty pages reading about the captain’s trip from a crewmembers’ house back to the port in a horse drawn carriage (well, some kind of sci-fi stock animal anyway). In a sci-fi book. For no good reason. It wasn’t exciting; it showed us nothing about the captain that wasn’t shown better in other places.. I kept waiting for it to prove important later, but it didn’t. Really, outside of the amazing long term battle much of the book was self-indulgent.
Really Nathan, you’re going to call someone else’s writing self-indulgent?
Take for instance the insertion of sexual metaphors into the battle. Nothing wrong with that, but the way it was handled didn’t really work for me. Some authors may have snuck it in artfully so I might not even catch it on the first read through. Some may have tried to do so, but handled it clumsily. The author here put it in, and then seems to have felt a need to put up giant signs pointing out that he did. ‘Look at this, over here! It is a metaphor for sexual penetration! Get it!?’ Here is a quote from when they penetrated a breach with a warhead.
“She never cared about it exploding, She just wanted it inside Her. And we gave it to Her. Part of us is now part of Her.” Pg288
His head sinks back down, deep thought or perhaps he is falling asleep. Must be some heavy thinking going on in that simple brain..no wait, his head is back up and the fingers are reaching for the keyboard…
To be honest the ending kind of lost me too. It all got a bit too, meta. May be more a reflection on me than the book but once the two ships hit a stalemate in which their course was locked together some typical sci-fi ‘weird shit’ slowed the book down dramatically for me. Perhaps I just don’t get it, or it proves that this book just isn’t for me, but it killed the momentum that was working so well.
So what do we have? I am of two minds. A whole lot of potential and certainly a book that should be read by a lot more people who like the genre. Notes should be taken by future writers on how to do a space battle right. But this crazy short book could be even tighter without some of the frivolous stuff taken out.
We wait with bated breath young man, what is your final verdict going to be? Does the book rise above your issues? Is it sunk completely? What are you going to do?
Screw it, I’ll just give it three stars and go get a beer.
Bravo! Beer is always the right choice when the going gets tough. Well done old boy, well done.