Kantovan Vault

Customer Reviews

811 Ratings

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4 out of 5 stars
By Skipper on 08-04-17

Ready for book 4

Contents: PG 13. No sex, lots of F-bombs (marines), no religious cussing, several ship-to-ship battles and close-quarters combat. There is obviously death, but nothing too grisly. The violence does not feel gratuitous. The tone of the series is fairly upbeat and heartwarming, but serious, not frivolous.

I've heard all three books in the series and am looking forward to book four. Sequel or bust! This particular book had fewer ship-to-ship battles than the first two books. Most of the action occurs on the ground, in the various segments of a major galactic-level heist. Crew Phoenix must break into a top secret vault, the titular Kantovan Vault. It's location is fairly extreme and rather hard to credit, but it makes for a good story. There are some poignant scenes in this book, including the death of a lovable character.

Set in the distant future in the far reaches of the Milky Way, Joel Shepherd serves up a solid space-opera populated with humans, aliens (froggies, humanoids, furballs, bugs) and even some robots and drones (various species of cybernetic super-intelligence). The crew of the military warship Phoenix are likable, and the main characters grow on you across the three books published so far. Bonding occurs credibly as this honorable but renegade crew gradually uncovers a conspiracy at the highest levels of authority, a secret terrible and fearful, hidden away for centuries, and protected at all costs. When Phoenix stumbles on the truth, they are forced to make some tough choices, and to engage in desperate missions, driving them further and further from home, into deep space. For the most part, they stand alone, but gradually they do acquire a few allies. I hope to see more alliances, and to see some of the current alliances deepen, and maybe some to be tested.

Spiral Wars feels a little like Sullivan's Riyira fantasy series, because long-believed lies are slowly uncovered, history revealed to be myth. Some friends prove fickle and some alliances false. There is a sense of suspense and intrigue, of holding one's breath for the next shoe to drop.

I've been reading space opera lately, but I tend to avoid tales told in 1st person "i-me-my perspective" because a singular voice gets old fast. This series, told in 3rd person, is better than most I've read. It compares on a par with Bujold's Vorkosigan series. I would rate it higher than Ryk Brown's Enjoyable Frontier Saga, and a little better than Dalzelle's Black Fleet and Omega series. I liked it more than Fox's Ember Wars series, and slightly more than the Expeditionary Force series by Alanson. I also recommend the engaging Linesman series by Dunstall, but it is somewhat lightweight. I also enjoy the Liaden series by Lee and Miller, but it is a very slow work in progress. I also highly recommend The Expanse series, by Corey.

One flaw in Shepherd's writing style is that he tends to slow the pace by stopping to describe things too much — including trivial aspects of the setting, and how the technical stuff works. Some people might like the technical explanations, but I zone out a little.

If the author can maintain this quality of storytelling until the conclusion of the series, he will have created a solid hit. I say quality of storytelling, not quality of writing, because his books are riddled with punctuation errors, resulting in fragmented sentences that hamper reading. I recommend the audiobooks instead of the e-books. He needs an editor.

The narrator John Lee cleans up all the proofreading issues and delivers a value-added and highly enjoyable rendition of Spiral Wars.

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4 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Jeremy Nelson on 03-02-17

Great series continues!

Really awesome continuation of a great series. Wonderful characters and a very cool space heist adventure told smartly here! As always, can't wait for the next one

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Benjamin on 09-01-17

Science Fiction With The Authority Of Shakespeare.

I bought the first book in a whim and instantly fell in love. the characters are relatable and the story while not unique is well constructed.

John Lee delivers the story with the gravitas you would expect from Richard III and it is enhanced by his performance.

the next book in the series can't come soon enough.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By tekone on 04-01-17

This series is so great!

I am not sure if it is due to John Lee or the writing but I really enjoy this series... I really look forward to the next one!

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Michael B. on 31-07-18

still good

I still love this series and I am excited for more. With audiobooks in general I sometimes wish there was a more distinctive way for the narrator to specify a scene change. I sometimes find that I didn't recognize the scene switch to another group until I figure it out after minutes. this is for all audio books so the same thing not really telling the scene switch exists in most audio books.

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5 out of 5 stars
By I Don’t Need No Stinkin Name on 25-06-18

Complexly excellent

Joel Shepherd may very well be the best author of long form military science fiction alive today.
I have read all four books in this series several times, which is quite rare for me, and even knowing their outcomes I still find them engaging.
Narration is excellent of course, and contribute significantly to the staying power in my view. There are a few problems with character voice consistency here and there, and more so in the fourth book and the second book, but it doesn’t really matter—it’s still a five star narration.

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