First in a brand-new, thought-provoking space opera series.
The lines. No ship can traverse the void without them. Only linesmen can work with them. But only Ean Lambert hears their song. And everyone thinks he's crazy.... Most slum kids never go far, certainly not becoming a level 10 linesman like Ean. Even if he's part of a small and unethical cartel, and the other linesmen disdain his self-taught methods, he's certified and working. Then a mysterious alien ship is discovered at the edges of the galaxy. Each of the major galactic powers is desperate to be the first to uncover the ship's secrets, but all they've learned is that it has the familiar lines of energy and a defense system that, once triggered, annihilates everything in a 200 kilometer radius. The vessel threatens any linesman who dares to approach it, except Ean. His unique talents may be the key to understanding this alarming new force and forever reconfiguring the relationship between humans and the ships that serve them.
©2015 S.K. Dunstall (P)2015 Recorded Books
I really enjoyed this, and I’m not much of a SF reader on the whole. This was waved in front of my eyes by Audible at some point, and the reviews persuaded me to give it a go - that’s the good side of a subscription, for £7.99 you’re more willing to take a punt of something unknown.
Anyhow, this is set in classic Sci-Fi territory, space ships, military, unknown aliens, super fast travel, courtesy of ‘the lines’, but has a very human heart in Ean (spelt that way apparently) Lambert. It is mostly narrated by him, but about oh, I don’t know, 20%, maybe less, of the chapters are narrated by Franco (can’t remember if he’s a Frank, or a Franco…) Rossi.
Interstellar travel depends on the lines, and the lines need Linesmen to keep them serviced and reliable. There are, at the start anyhow, 10 known lines, with lines 9 and 10 responsible for travel through the void - a sort of hole in time and space that lets ships travel vast distances in no time. Lambert and Rossi are both Line 10 linesmen, as senior as you get, but Lambert is considered a weird misfit, ridiculed and dismissed by his peers, while Rossi is a politicking, patronising, arrogant so’n’so poised to take over his guild.
The book contains some politicking, but not too much, and there were times when I wanted Ean to grow a bit of backbone, but he is who and what he is, so I settled and came to like him! There are a host of supporting characters, generally well fleshed out, some backstabbing and derring-do, a nice developing mystery around the lines and the alien ship, and the last quarter or so was really gripping.
Well read with enough difference between the main characters, and with the women as well voiced by the narrator as the men. There’s a sequel due out February 2016 that I will be buying, with a third planned according to the writers’ web site. Recommended.
"Absolutely Excellent Story - Sci-fi Meets Fantasy"
This book was one of the better audiobooks I've listened to this year. It was well written, well narrated, and had a very original and unique concept.
Although difficult to explain in a quick summary, the "lines" are lines of energy that control various ship systems. The "line" technology (we find out later in the book) was actually reverse engineered from an alien ship discovered hundreds of years before the events in the storyline. Many aspects of the technology are not completely understood, and two of the lines (7 and 8) have no apparent purpose. The lines can only be fixed by a select few people known as Linesmen. These people have a type of extra sensory perception and are able to sense, manipulate, and fix the lines on ships. Linesmen are rated from 1-10, with their number depicting the highest line that they can manipulate. Level 10 Linesmen can manipulate all 10 lines, and are few and far between.
The story is told primarily from the point-of-view Ian Lambert, a Level 10 Linesman. Raised in the slums of a backwater world, he is considered an outcast by the other Linesman. He is also the only Linesman who senses and manipulates the lines with sound (by singing) and not with his mind, further convincing his peers that he doesn't belong. When he is accidentally hired by a high-born noble for a critical mission, his value and uniqueness as a Linesman become more apparent. He joins a ship full of government and military officials to explore a new alien ship that has been discovered in a remote area of space. The ship itself has defenses preventing anyone from reaching it. When it is discovered that only Ian can reach out and communicate with the ship and its lines, he becomes the most valuable resource in the galaxy, making him the target of multiple governments and military factions.
It isn't very often we see a truly unique story such as this. The book contained everything from alien ships, space battles, and a dash of fantasy with the Linesman concept. This was one of my best spent credits in awhile. The narration equally top notch. I would recommend this one for anyone looking for something new in a sci-fi story.
I loved it, this is one of my favorite series. I am looking forward to listening to book 2.
There are many good reviews for this book, but I found it BORING. Reminded me of my attempt to stay conscious during a course I took in college “The History of Medieval Expansion in Europe”.
"Exceptionally Enjoyable Energy"
Linesman is a 5-star General for Overall/Performance/Story.
Inventive writing and good storytelling- and what else is there to want? These are two entirely different creative faculties, and by no means always found together.
Characters spring to life through his voice and cadences. Yet you are never aware of him personally. That is my standard for real genius in narration. The greatest narrators never make themselves more conspicuous than the story itself: they merely embody it perfectly.
I only wish Brian Hutchison narrated many more audiobooks. For example, he made the Rot & Ruin series by Jonathan Maberry considerably more entertaining than reading the books.
(And they were good books of their kind in the first place.)
No. I didn't want it to be over.
Dear S.K. Dunstall:
You are among the very best writers of modern science fiction. I know this because I have read practically everything, sorry to say.
So please write more.
"Wish it was a series"
Yes it has likeable characters in it.
Marie she has power and no power at the same time.
I don't think I have
Yes I could listen to this book till the end
I like how the author left room to turn this book into a series and also how he made the characters more human with their flaws
This is a confusing book with a ridiculous premise and a confusing plot. I regret that I failed to listen to it in time to get my money back.
Because of the high marks that this book has received, I expected more. The narrator kept putting me to sleep because the story had little going for it.
"Wonderful Characters and Unique Storyline!"
Ean Lambert is a linesman but his skills are different than most linesmen. Lines are paths of energy which serve specific purposes on space ships. Lower lines (1 through 5) control more basic systems not needed for space travel, and these are on planets too. The technology is not completely understood and no one yet knows the purpose of lines 7 and 8. Most linesmen have a special extra sensory perception and have been taught to manipulate the lines by pushing them into place to keep them working properly. The linesmen are certified at the highest level, 1-10, that they can manipulate.
Ean’s contract is with one of the least respected cartels but Ean was glad to sign on for the training and the chance to become a linesman. His boss did manage to get him certified as a Level 10, although it was all a bit unorthodox because Ean doesn’t manipulate the lines like the others. He hears the songs of the lines and sings to them – and they respond. Ean doesn’t get the respect the other high linesmen get, but while other 10s were out at the ‘confluence’ trying to learn the secrets of an alien ship, Ean has been busy fixing lines on many ships and gaining a reputation as a reliable, if strange, linesman.
Ean’s life is suddenly changed when his contract is bought by an angry woman from the Lancastrian Princess. Ean was raised in the slums of Lancia so he doesn’t have warm feelings towards their rulers. The crew doesn’t welcome him warmly, although the lines do. Slowly the crew, especially the ship’s owner, Michelle, her high-ranking bodyguard, Abram, and eventually the ship’s captain, Helmo, begin to appreciate Ean’s unique talents. When they realize that Ean can communicate with the mysterious alien ship, he quickly becomes their secret weapon. He discovers line 11 on the alien ship, learns the purposes of the other lines and realizes that he can use the lines collectively. Which is a big help when enemies first try to attack the alien ship and then try to kidnap Ean.
I really enjoyed the relationship between Ean and the lines. (I suppose some might relate if they have a car or other object they pat and croon too.) The story is told in third person primarily focused on Ean but rotating to other characters too. One of these is Jordan Rossi, an arrogant, rival Level 10 who thinks Ean is crazy and dangerous. Ean is assigned his own bodyguard, Radko, and I like her no nonsense attitude. There is political intrigue that Ean becomes entangled in even though he doesn’t fully understand it all.
The story is full of strong, likeable characters and has a fresh storyline full of action and intrigue. The writing flows well; mostly at a quick pace. When I had to turn it off, I was anxious to get back to listen to more. This book has an appropriate ending but there is clearly more for the next book and I look forward to continuing the adventure. I really like the characters and the unique storyline in this. I’m ready to listen to more.
Audio Notes: Brian Hutchison does a wonderful job with the narration. He gives each character their unique personality, flair and emotions, and his narration flows so well that you aren’t conscious of the reading. There are a few slower points in the story and he manages to maintain a good flow even through those. The narration definitely enhanced my enjoyment of this story and I highly recommend this in audio format.
"So many things will make me like a story"
engaging characters, ingenious word building, an elegant plot, an interesting exploration of an intriguing idea from science, philosophy or economics, elegant phrasing... just one of these would have been enough for me to enjoy this book. As it was, I did not finish. I was unable to care about the protagonist and his angst about having to sing to get his magic powers, and the various plot developments which arose from nowhere and tended to be that the protagonist found a new power because the previous powers were getting boring. or something. At first I found it soporific and would listen to it to go to sleep; but then when it began to irritate rather than lull, I had to stop.
The narrator did a magnificent job given the material.
"Good book, but takes a while to understand Concept"
The book is good, but I think the author could so a better job explaining what lines are earlier in the book. Even after listening to the entire story I don't fully understand what they are. He does tell you and maybe it's just the way my mind works that can't wrap my head around the idea. I will get the second book though.
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