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Well, I've finally reached the end of the main Star Force series of books
with the twelfth title, Demon Star. As with pretty much all the books in the
series, this one continues right on from the previous which sees our hapless
hero arrive in a star system with three races which are all very different
from each other.
In a way, this story is less satisfying than the previous one and for
reasons I cannot put my finger on precisely. I don't know if the general
undertone of the narrative was a little different in subtle ways perhaps due to
a greater majority of the writing work being handed over to David Van Dyke
now collaborating on the third book with B V. Larson or perhaps some other
reason. Maybe it was just my personal impression that there was something
not quite up to the standards seen before or maybe it was just a getting
used to Larson's exciting prose and plot that I had acclimatised to and
therefore felt I needed more. Either way, Demon Star didn't quite work as
well for me as the previous two Cody Riggs Star Force books.
In my previous reviews of the Cody Riggs stories I had been dubious of how
the character had been written in that he seemed far too clever considering
his inexperience and youth. He would often seem to exhibit wisdom well
beyond his years as a matter of course in the most stressful of situations
and come up with the right decision pretty much all the time it mattered. I
had critiqued this character trait in the other two books but rather
strangely I found that in Demon Star almost the reverse was now the case.
Some clearly odd and ill judged decisions were made often against the advice
of others which placed his crew into situations that could well have been
easily avoided. Had this character flaw and inexperience been part of the
first Cody Riggs story, Outcast, then it would have actually worked much
better as it would have been far more realistic for a young freshly
commissioned Ensign to be making such errors of judgement.
On the positive, Larson has always excelled at his depiction of alien life
and comes up with clever and different traits for the various species
encountered in his books and we have three of them feature in this story.
However, I would have liked it if Larson had developed the "Demons" a little
more and gave us more insight into their motives and mindset. I felt there
was a lot left unexplained as to why they did what they did and there
appeared to be a hint at more to them given the fact they attacked the other
two species on an annual basis and took lots of prisoners during the attack
depicted in the story. I think an opportunity missed and something that
would have been of great interest and added to the fabric of the story. We
do see a prisoner taken and interrogated but other than a brief scene
depicting this we hear nothing else of this captured alien at all thereafter
which I feel was another wasted opportunity. In addition, the whale aliens
described sound almost exactly the same in their appearance as those
described on the water moon where Valliant's crew hid during Outcast as I
recall and yet nothing was mentioned of this. This and other aspects to this
story lead me to conclude that Demon Star was much less Larson lead or that
it was a somewhat hurried project by the two writers.
Still, in the Larson style, the combat scenes are well written and quick
paced in a way that it seems clearly only Larson can write and this helps
keep Demon Star moving nicely. Cody Riggs eventually gets his man in terms
of the long running thread throughout the trio of Cody Riggs stories that is
a "Who done it." sub-plot. The person responsible had been on my short list
from the outset actually but the true nature of this individual and the
extent to which their influence had spread like a cancer was a real surprise
to me so hats off to the authors for pulling this off so well.
We are left with a tantalising possible continuation to the Cody Riggs story
but as yet, Larson has not chosen to go down this route - or not that I have
yet come across. There are some spin-off or stand alone stories set in the
Star Force universe but nothing I've seen so far to extend the series. The
idea we are left with for the next possible chapter in Cody Rig's
adventures would make for very interesting reading I'm sure.
A few anomalies I found in this book spring to mind. A clear error was made in the writing when 40 light years was written when it should have clearly been 40 light hours based on the context of the distances within the star system. Also, I was rather confused by a statement at the start of this book that seemed to suggest that Hanson was not the XO or first officer despite him being promoted to that rank at the end of the previous story. However, he appears to be firmly in the role of XO thereafter so perhaps this was just me being confused in some way. For some reason the Valliant's AI voice is now female where as before it was always rendered as clearly male in the previous stories. This last oddity may be explained by the fact that it was alluded to that the ships AI was exhibiting learning traits and more personality but then why not clearly state that it had chosen a female voice now as part of that evolution?
I also found this book to feature more obvious audio editing than the last in that we can clearly hear distinct differences between the main dialogue track and the inserted edits which is rather clumsy production in my opinion but to be fair, this is just me being my usual nit picking self when it comes to how I review a book.
Despite plenty of action as is usual with Larson novels, I did find Demon Star less enjoyable than the previous two books featuring Cody Riggs. It still stands as a good read and by no means a poor story. Just not one of the best I've read from Larson and in no small part to the sudden rashness shown by the formerly insightful Riggs. Other plot elements were not explored as I've mentioned above which did reduce the depth of the story to my mind so not a five star effort I think in overall terms.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
The saga that began after book ten of the “Star Force,” series, the beginning of the Cody Riggs odyssey, finally reaches some closure in book twelve, “Demon Star. I found the first part of the series with Cody’s father, Kyles, a more compelling story but Cody’s “Lost in Space” adventure trying to find his way home after inadvertently going through a worm hole and encountering many different alien life forms while trying to find out who tried to murder him a story worth listening to. There are some interesting surprises while questions are answered and the ending leaves the door open for the series to continue.
Mark Boyett is still consistently great as the voice of this series.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
I can't wait to see what happens with Cody Riggs next . dose he get his command and go after the ships .
4 of 4 people found this review helpful