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S. Morris

London, UK
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  • Mavericks

  • Expeditionary Force, Book 6
  • By: Craig Alanson
  • Narrated by: R. C. Bray
  • Length: 17 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,255
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,209
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,207

The remnants of the Expeditionary Force stranded on the alien-controlled planet "Paradise" get a chance to prove themselves, in a simple off-world training mission with a ship full of teenage alien cadets. When the mission goes horribly wrong and the survival of everyone on Paradise is at risk, the Merry Band of Pirates may have to come to the rescue. Unless they get killed first.... 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Skippy Shandy?

  • By Simon on 28-09-18

Another Winner

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-12-18

It's taken me a very long time to get around to putting together a review of Mavericks. The main reason for this is that I didn't know what to say about it. This series has been so consistently excellent that pretty much all I say here will be essentially repeating myself. However, I shall try.

OK, some have suggested that readers of this series may not like this book quite so much as the main focus of it are the second group of humans based on the planet known as Paradise. This group had their own shorter story written about them in book 4.5 of this series. In my view, this book was excellent and this group of characters are written just as well as our main band of merry pirates. Further, in my opinion the author has been able to create two separate character groups because his overall stories are so good. Plus, there is always some form of connection to the plights of the two groups which Allenson is able to write for each equally well.

I was so pleased to see the return of the lovable Nurt, the teen age furry alien member of the Paradise team. Some of his antics made me laugh out loud and he has become a firm favourite with me.

If I were to offer any negative comments on this story then it would only be to note that in all the book there was just one part where the pace felt slow to me. This was the section of the book dealing with the characters moving to their training ship assignment. However, this was only a minor element which I only mentioned to provide some balance to my otherwise positive opinion of this book.

I'll say it again, Allenson is such a natural writing talent and his words are perfectly conveyed by the superb R. C. Bray. So glad to find he has been doing all these books. A good narrator can lift a fair story and a bad narrator can make an otherwise good story unlistenable. Combine a great story and a superb narrator and you have a fantastic story which must be viewed as the definitive version rendering the mere Kindle or paper versions inferior.

What bodes even better for this series is the ending of this story that begins the setup phase of something even bigger so I really look forward to that.

This is another winner from the amazing Craig Allenson and a great addition to the series.

  • Earth Fleet

  • Rebel Fleet, Book 4
  • By: B. V. Larson
  • Narrated by: Mark Boyett
  • Length: 10 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 110
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 104
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 104

At long last, Earth has a handful of starships. Surrounded by Rebel Kher, Imperials, and the mysterious Nomads, humanity dares to assert our right to independence. The interstellar community reacts harshly. In the eyes of our neighbors, we’re upstarts, dangerous beings who don’t know our place. For the Kher, freedom can only be won through battle. War fleets arrive to instruct us, and Captain Leo Blake is again sent out to voyage among hostile stars.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • And then there is a time to move on....

  • By adele on 18-09-18

Unsatisfying

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-10-18

I like Larson's work but I have to say that apart from the first in this series, the Rebel Fleet books have been somewhat disappointing to me. The premise started well and I found it nicely paced and above all a page turner. It had mystery, action and was full of interesting character dynamics. However, once that first book was out the way I feel that the following instalments have been far less appealing with this and the previous in the series being below par for Larson in my opinion Sure, they are fine as basic stories go but they lack the punch and interest I've come to expect from this author. For all of this story's 60 chapters, I feel that not an awful lot happened. In other words, the overall plot was pretty thin and basic even for a Larson science fiction book. I do like Larson straightforward approach to his stories but this is a little too far in that direction.

I much prefer his Undying Mercenaries saga which is far more appealing to me with its visceral life and death struggles and complex political machinations. In the Star Force, Undying Mercenaries and this Rebel Fleet series Larson's central character is very similar. He is both a ladies man and a trickster able to bluff his way out of dire situations. I suppose this might give his books a somewhat unpolitically correct alpha male lead character more reminiscent of the old Captain Kirk in his 1960's TV adventures which can be refreshing if rather simplistic in our more complex times. The Star Force and Undying Mercenaries books, however, make lesser use of these fundamental traits and so it makes it look as if Leo Blake is pretty much a one trick pony with little in the way of real depth. In itself this might be acceptable but what this story lacks is any real personal danger. I liked the first in this series and to a lesser degree the second as they presented Blake with personal danger having to use his wit and guile to fight off multiple foes. Not so here which is a shame.

To me, it feels as if these series of books have become a labour of love for Larson perhaps as a result of some contractual commitment to complete a set minimum number of these, I don't know. Things feel a bit lacklustre as if Larson is on autopilot and is churning out something to be able to move on to something else. He is a prolific writer for sure but it can make for some sloppy errors in is writing such as near the start of chapter 41, I believe, where a nomad dissolves onto the deck of Devilfish when in fact they were aboard Hammerhead. Just a few sentences later it is mentioned that they are on Hammerhead so this, in my opinion, is unacceptable carelessness. I think there may have been another error but in fairness I cannot say for sure. It seems to me s if an injured bridge officer by the name of Ensign Costa was knocked out when her head hit her console but eventually awoke and remarked upon the situation at hand. However, in the following chapter she had died without mention of any complications as a result of her injuries. As indicated, I may have got this wrong but it felt that way to me and I have come across one or two other such similar types of fundamental errors in Larson's books. Having said that, it's not all his fault. Where were the proof readers here? Surely manuscripts are sent to publishing houses, read and edited or corrections made as required.

Anyway, I'm rambling as I so often do. Suffice to say that Earth Fleet felt rather unsatisfying to me and it was a book I could pick up and put down for days before reading more which might indicate my thoughts better on it. Not a terrible story but a bit too simplistic for me.

  • Never Call Me a Hero

  • A Legendary American Dive-Bomber Pilot Remembers the Battle of Midway
  • By: N. Jack "Dusty" Kleiss, Timothy Orr
  • Narrated by: Mike Ortego, Cassandra Campbell, Patrick Lawlor
  • Length: 9 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1

An extraordinary firsthand account of the Battle of Midway by one of its key participants, timed to the 75th anniversary: American dive-bomber pilot "Dusty" Kleiss helped sink three Japanese warships (including two aircraft carriers), received the Navy Cross, and is credited with playing a decisive individual role in determining the outcome of a battle that is considered a turning point in World War II.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazing Man

  • By S. Morris on 14-09-18

Amazing Man

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 14-09-18

N. Jack "Dusty" Kleis may never have wanted to be known as a "hero" but he comes just about as close to one as you can find. So many of his generation that fought hard and died even harder in that war were men of a breed apart. What amazes me is their modesty and their view that they were just doing their jobs. In a modern world full of narcissism and self absorbed people, it's refreshing and humbling to read the personal story of such a man.

This book is read beautifully by Mike Ortega who was the perfect choice given the age and gravitas his voice has. A younger sounding narrator would not have given the impression of an old man telling his story and so we get the sense that "Dusty" is speaking to us directly. The book is as much a love story interwoven with his wartime recollections as anything else so it's not all Midway by any means. Still, the way this book is written gives us a real sense of the man, his life before and after the war and thus what kind of a person he was. It is sad to know that he didn't live to see this book in print. However, his legacy lives on in his telling of his part in the battle of Midway.

Kleis's candour is also refreshing as he actually remarks upon elements of a book written by one of his colleagues which was interesting. None of us in our modern day world can truly ever know what it was like to live from day to day not knowing whether you'd survive another sunset but this book does give us glimpses into that world.

Sadly, I have to wonder what these men that fought so hard for the freedoms we enjoy would think of the world we live in today.

  • Alien: River of Pain

  • An Audible Original Drama
  • By: Christopher Golden, Dirk Maggs
  • Narrated by: Anna Friel, Philip Glenister, Colin Salmon, and others
  • Length: 4 hrs and 52 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,893
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,714
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,708

Ellen Ripley finally returns to Earth, only to discover that LV-426 — where the crew of the Nostromo first came into contact with the deadly xenomorphs — has been renamed Acheron. Protected by Colonial Marines, the colonists seek to terraform the storm-swept planet against all the odds. But in the face of brutal living conditions and the daily struggles of a new world, there is humanity and hope.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Out of this World!

  • By Simon on 26-04-17

Hadley's Hope: The Untold Story

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-09-18

Alien: River of Pain is another excellent Audible originals production. So far, all three in this series that also include Alien: Out of The Shadows and Alien: Sea of Sorrows have all been of very high quality.

This story cleverly weaves some of the early events seen in the Aliens sequel movie by James Cameron with a new sort of immediate prequel to the main events of that film. Namely, the story of the colonists on LV426. This briefly introduces us to the Jordan family via the birth of their second child, Rebecca AKA Newt. We then pick up 6 years later which are the preceding two or so weeks that encompass the discovery of the alien derelict and the subsequent alien infestation that takes hold of the doomed Hadley's Hope colony.

We are introduced to the various colonists with the plight of the Jordan family playing a central role. There's a star studded cast at work here delivering this immersive story and it's nice to see that there was some thoughtful consistency here with the likes of Mac Macdonald reprising his excised colony administrator role. Those of you who saw the Aliens: Special Edition will have briefly seen him chiding some playing children and will recognize him as the Captain of the Red Dwarf as seen on the comedy TV show.

The mix of events seen in the Aliens movie such as the salvage of Ripley's shuttle are extended in a very consistent and credible way and the story as a whole really does a great job of completing some of the Ripley narrative prior to her departure to LV426.

What River of Pain does so well is to give us greater appreciation of the doomed colonists plight. We witness their fight for survival and see that they were real people instead of "Just a bunch of colonists". Strong and diverse characters allow us to emotionally connect with the Jordans as well as other members of the colony which gives a great foundation to this poignant tale.

There is plenty of action to be had here too and it is well written and superbly produced to put you right into the heart of the action. Sound design is also top notch with plenty of atmospheric effects including original effects from the movie such as the pulse rifles, motion tracker and even the doors used in the colony. In my opinion, this could've made an excellent movie. However, it seems that Hollywood within the last 20 years or so has failed at coming up with solid stories like this so it is left to these productions to take up the slack.

Another word on the sound staging; careful attention is placed on dialogue clarity and how this is balanced with background effects and music. So many multi-million Dollar movie productions over the past decade or so as well as TV have been plagued by poor sound design with respect to dialogue. We so often have actors who insist on mumbling their lines, have poor diction and when that isn't a problem, dialogue is drowned out by music or background effects rendering use of subtitle options in my own case. Here we have the opposite and every detail is carefully balanced to give the listener the ultimate audio experience with clear dialogue, atmospheric effects and a great music score to boot. Just a shame that the movie world just seems incapable of figuring this out.

Most reviews of mine wouldn't be complete if I didn't at least mention a gripe or oddity I came across. A couple of things stand out here but neither of which detracts from a great story. The first is that I do not ever recall marines being present on the colony before Ripley's marine contingent was sent out. Second, there is a timeline error I feel in that it is stated that about a month has elapsed between Newt's escape in her hiding space when all colonists appear to have been killed or taken by the Aliens and Ripley discovering her. In the movie we see a scene where the investigating marines find a living colonist about to give birth to a gestating alien. However, I was puzzled by this as it seemed to me that no colonists - if any remained alive - would survive long enough to have only been captured a day or so earlier as the usual gestation period was around 24 hours. Very minor point, I know and it could be inferred that someone survived long enough to have been recently cocooned but I think it might have been an oversight in the telling of this story.

Alien: River of Pain is a five star production in my view and well worth a listen.

  • Alien: Sea of Sorrows

  • An Audible Original Drama
  • By: James A. Moore, Dirk Maggs
  • Narrated by: John Chancer, Stockard Channing, Walles Hamonde, and others
  • Length: 5 hrs and 7 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,291
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,200
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,195

Set 300 years after the events of Alien: Out of the Shadows and Alien: River of Pain, Alien: Sea of Sorrows deals with the rediscovery of dormant Xenomorphs (Aliens) in the abandoned mines of LV-178, the planetoid from Alien: Out of the Shadows, which has now been terraformed and renamed New Galveston. The Weyland-Yutani Corporation, reformed after the collapse of the United Systems Military, continue their unceasing efforts to weaponise the creatures.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Drowning in Aliens!

  • By Simon on 26-04-18

Excellent!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-09-18

Being thoroughly impressed with the first in this Audible originals series, Alien: Out of The Shadows, I picked up Sea of Sorrows. Actually, I didn't realize this was the third in the series and missed book 2, River of Pain which I shall get now.

Not only is the voice acting, atmospheric sounds and effects top notch but the story itself is also excellent. These productions are so good that they really are like a movie in the mind as the Out of The Shadows ad touted.

Ironically, even though this is the third in this series, it is more of a follow on from the first and so I was already familiar with the LV178 location. The story takes a few minutes to get up to speed but you will soon find yourself immersed in the vividly depicted narrative. All the classic elements to an alien story are there, of course but it is not dull at all.

I really enjoyed this production and it begs the question as to why Hollywood with their millions of Dollar budgets cannot come up with something as entertaining as this.

Loved it and will listen to this again along with Out of The Shadows such is their quality.

  • Welcome to the Universe

  • An Astrophysical Tour
  • By: Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michael A. Strauss, J. Richard Gott
  • Narrated by: Michael Butler Murray
  • Length: 17 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 227
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 207
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 205

Welcome to the Universe is a personal guided tour of the cosmos by three of today's leading astrophysicists. Inspired by the enormously popular introductory astronomy course that Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michael A. Strauss, and J. Richard Gott taught together at Princeton, this book covers it all - from planets, stars, and galaxies to black holes, wormholes, and time travel.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Graphic!

  • By polestar on 07-03-17

Not For The Masses

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 31-08-18

I've tried a couple of books like this from Audible in the past without much in the way of success as far as comprehension of the material was concerned. I guess I am one of those very average people who has a deep interest in the workings of our universe but just is unable to grasp the full picture due to the way such books are written.

However, this title was in a two for one sale and so after listening to the sample, I decided to have another go at one of these types of books. The opening chapter or two started well for me when easy to understand analogies such as how many McDOnalds hamburgers would it take to go around the Earth and to the Moon etc. That's easy to grasp as it uses very ordinary examples of things to demonstrate the notion of larger numbers. All good so far and the book was on course to deliver its contents in a way the majority of people could digest and understand. Alas, from there on and throughout the book the method of explaining concepts and especially the excessive amount of complex mathematical equations cited just went way above my head. To be fair, the start of the book does say that the material within was originally designed for a Princeton University series of lectures and so perhaps I was given fair warning. However, despite this, I was hoping that the source material might have been "dumbed down" for the masses. I guess I was hoping this book would be edited in a way that delivers the basic concepts without the maths and in a way most people could understand - rather like many of those immersive Discovery channel documentaries.

For those of you out there in the middle of a quantum physics degree or similar then knock yourself out. This book will explain so many amazing discoveries and concepts concisely using the universal language of mathematics. For those "ordinary" folk such as me then not so much. I doggedly went through each chapter hoping against hope that there would be one free of all the algebra but things only seem to get more complex.

The other aspect to this audio book that is not so helpful is that it relies on a highly visual supplement in the form of a downloadable PDF file you will see next to the book in your library should you purchase it. As I am blind, this PDF is useless and so a major element to this book is rendered moot unfortunately. However, even if I was able to read some of the described diagrams and graphs, I think I'd still be none the wiser. Especially difficult to visualize and even conceptualize was the World line 4 dimensional models used to demonstrate effects of time and space with relation to objects. I think my head began to ache trying desperately to fully grasp the idea.

I'd have to say that if you're like me that you'll be able to comprehend a very high level general notion of many of the ideas described but lack the low level deep appreciation of them. This is OK if you're willing to plough through the entire book skimming a small percent of comprehension off the top of the massively complex topics discussed. I really wish I could fully appreciate everything in this book but I am not a PhD student so have failed miserably. Still, despite the small amount of new knowledge gained, I still found the book of interest to me. I was able to expand my understanding - such as I am able - to a small degree so it's not all bad.

The narrator did a fantastic job of reading this incredibly complex tome and he must get huge credit for being able to tackle this intensely difficult subject matter with aplomb.

The one thing that did amuse me about this book was given how unbelievably complex the subjects were discussed by the three co-authors, they cited an example several times of a 6-inch hard drive. The problem is that there is no 6-inch hard drive to the best of my knowledge. Instead the 3.5 inch drive is perhaps the most common. In all that complexity of the subjects being discussed, a simple error like that was indicative of just how detached from the everyday world they can be sometimes.

So, in summary, this is not a book for everyone. It is massively complex and relies heavily on mathematical formulas. In addition, it isn't suited to a purely audio experience given the reliance on supplementary visual material. It's a well written book no doubt and imparts a huge amount of knowledge but not in a way most can appreciate.

Sadly, this book falls into the same trap as some others I've tried to read here on Audible in that the authors are so close to their study matter that they seem incapable of simplifying it sufficiently for a mass audience. Either that or I am plain stupid which is also a strong possibility.



  • Planetside

  • By: Michael Mammay
  • Narrated by: R.C. Bray
  • Length: 8 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 157
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 152
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 152

War heroes aren't usually called out of semi-retirement and sent to the far reaches of the galaxy for a routine investigation. So when Colonel Carl Butler answers the call from an old and powerful friend, he knows it's something big - and he's not being told the whole story. A high councilor's son has gone MIA out of Cappa Base, the space station orbiting a battle-ravaged planet. The young lieutenant had been wounded and evacuated - but there's no record of him having ever arrived at hospital command. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Distinguished Butler!

  • By Simon on 01-08-18

Now Waiting For Part 2!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 29-08-18

While browsing the new releases section on Audible, I came upon a new science fiction novel by an author I hadn't heard of. I was unsure whether to check this book out but as soon as I saw that the narrator was the superb R. C Bray I immediately clicked on the "Play Sample" button. Within 30 seconds of listening to this I decided to use my last credit to purchase this title. The little I heard convinced me that it was worth a punt. R. C Bray is one of those rare breed of narrators who has just about everything. His delivery is unmatched and his reading style is so fluid and natural you'd think he was just telling you his story from memory. Any half decent author's work is greatly enhanced and brought to life by having Master Bray narrate it and it was this that got me to read this excellent book.

Bray is so dynamic that he could make a shopping list sound good. This is not to say that Michael Mame's writing is lacking in any way. No, on the contrary, he is an excellent writer with a style that is brought out to its best with the likes of R. C Bray reading it.

Michael Mame appears to be a new breed of sci-fi author that has a brilliant writing style that feels so natural and effortless but stands testament to the raw skill required to put together such fluid, dynamic and flowing prose. He doesn't waste pages on uninteresting elements to pad out his story nor does his pace fall off. Suffice it to say that I am very impressed with what I assume is either his first or one of his first books.

So, what about the story? Well, Planet Side is essentially a "Who Done It" type mystery where our protagonist is sent off to a far flung outpost to investigate the disappearance of a high level official. Sort of a Magnum P.I in space. That analogy might make it sound somewhat cheesy but it isn't at all. It is an entertaining page turner that will keep you interested all the way. I did have my suspicions as to what may have happened to the missing man by chapter 15 and I was close to the truth so was pleased with myself for that. That's not to say the plot was obvious so don't be put off by that remark.

There is a few twists and turns here so nothing is predictable in that way. One element to the story that puzzled me though was the lack of co-operation and downright hostility our protagonist met while investigating a lead that took him to the base hospital. Given this was a military and not civilian base complex and so too was the hospital contained within, that I do not understand this. Surely a high level officer sent by a higher level authority within the military would garner full co-operation from all departments of the base? I feel this aspect was somewhat contrived and can see no reason for it.

Minor plot oddities aside, this is an excellent read with real three dimensional characters and leaves us with the prospect of a sequel to this unfinished story. I, for one, will be adding that book to my basket as soon as it is available.


3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Attack of the Seawolf

  • The Michael Pacino Series, Book 2
  • By: Michael DiMercurio
  • Narrated by: Joseph Courtemanche
  • Length: 10 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5

The nightmare fear of the US had come true. One of our finest submarines, the U.S.S. Tampa, on a top-secret spying mission, had fallen into Chinese Communist hands. The Communists, fighting for survival in a savage civil war, now held not only the sub, the crew, and the gutsy Commander Sean Murphy hostage, but US power and prestige as well. America had one last desperate card to play.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Plenty Of Action

  • By S. Morris on 05-08-18

Plenty Of Action

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-08-18

The Sea Wolf class submarine on which this book is based was not yet built I think at the time this book was written way back in the early 90's. However, it was known that Sea wolf would be the next generation of attack submarines for the U.S navy but scant details about it were available. I conjecture this based on some of the inaccuracies in this story. Nonetheless, this is largely irrelevant but just something I thought I'd mention to those out there like me who are into this subject matter and may be somewhat confused.

Pacino is placed in command of the navy's newest and most advanced submarine, the Sea wolf, in order to rescue the USS Tampa, a Los Angeles class nuclear attack submarine sent out to infiltrate Chinese national waters to gather intelligence.

Pacino has a huge and powerful arsenal at his disposal and this sets the scene for a large scale naval conflict. As ever, DiMercurio's strength is in writing the combat set pieces and there's plenty of action to be had here.

The only negative here is the narration. As covered in my other reviews of DiMercurio's books on Audible, the narration leaves much to be desired and I can think of others that would do a wonderful job of it instead. However, the fact the story is still as good as it is says a lot for the writing of DiMercurio and so if you can put up with the narration then this story is a solid submarine warfare thriller complete with plenty of detail to satisfy those like me that are interested in submarines.

I'd love to have these books re-recorded with the superb R. C. Bray narrating as this would inject incredible tension and slickness into the telling of these stories. Oh well, we can't have everything I suppose.

Attack of The Sea wolf is a solid read that should please any naval techno thriller genre lover.

  • Piranha Firing Point

  • The Michael Pacino Series, Book 5
  • By: Michael DiMercurio
  • Narrated by: Joseph Courtemanche
  • Length: 11 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3

In the East China Sea, six Japanese submarines are attacked and believed destroyed. To the world, it seems like an accident. But to one man, former submarine commander Dick Donchez, it is the first act of war. He alone knows the truth, that the old guard of Red China has stolen the subs to wage a massive attack against the new Free China. Vice Admiral Michael Pacino can't prove Donchez's theory. The US government will not officially retaliate. But when a full-scale battle erupts, Pacino is quickly given command of the Navy's latest undersea weapon.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Naval Carnage On A Grand Scale

  • By S. Morris on 05-08-18

Naval Carnage On A Grand Scale

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-08-18

I've read both Douglas Reeman and Tom Clancy and neither of them are able to pen a novel about submarines like Michael DiMercurio can. Despite Reeman having served in the surface navy in World War 2 and forgetting the fact that i believe Clancy started life as an insurance salesmen, neither have the first hand experience to really put you inside the tense control room of a nuclear powered attack submarine during combat. Well, not so far in my experience but I'd love anyone to correct me on that or point out another author who can.

DiMercurio served aboard U.S fast attack boats during the Cold War so knows his stuff. I think this book is the final in the Michael Pacino series. There is another book not on Audible yet, Terminal Run, that has Pacino's son take up the naval family tradition.

DiMercurio knows how to write a naval thriller and does it well. However, this book isn't without its weaker elements. In order for the writer to contrive the eventual turkey shoot that ensues against the U.S surface task force sent to show intent to the enemy, the President of the U.S is convinced by a top advisor to have their huge fleet assembled in neat lines and ignore the known threat of a number of highly advanced submarines in its path. In reality, no leader would ignore the advice of a highly experienced and decorated submariner in favour of a bureaucrat wanting to wave the Stars and Stripes in the hopes of scaring the enemy away. Doesn't work like that but DiMercurio has to spend all of chapter 10, I think it was, going around in circles with lengthy dialogue exchanges in order to come up with this very contrived outcome. To be fair, I can't think of any writer that could credibly come up with any reasoning that would allow unprotected carriers to steam out in neat columns into the face of an advanced submerged foe. So, contrived as it was, I guess to have the set piece slaughter of the fleet that this was the only way to do it.

Once out of the political back story we find DiMercurio much more in his element and able to drive the story along nicely.

As mentioned in another review within this series, the narrator lets down these stories. He hardly tries to change his voice during dialogue exchanges and we often have no idea who is speaking until the author tells us. This can sometimes make for confusing rapid exchanges where it is not mentioned each time who spoke. However, the reader does make some decent attempts at foreign name pronunciation.

The ending is as predictable as you might imagine with our hero winning out under incredible adversity. That's fine, we expect that but I have to say that so many U.S centric authors tend to overdo the patriotic thing and the closing pages are rather cheesy it must be said.

All in all though, Piranha Firing Point is a good read which really puts the reader into the thick of the action.


  • Dark World

  • Undying Mercenaries, Book 9
  • By: B. V. Larson
  • Narrated by: Mark Boyett
  • Length: 13 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 290
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 272
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 272

Two expanding interstellar powers are about to meet in battle. After the collapse of the Cephalopod Kingdom, Humanity claimed the 300 rebellious worlds it left behind. But light years away on the far side of a disputed region, a rival power has begun to move. They're stealing our planets, one at a time. Earth Command decides to invade the center of the frontier to set up an advanced base. The mission to DARK WORLD is highly classified and deadly. Legion Varus spearheads the effort, and James McGill journeys to the stars again. How many ships do they have? How advanced is their tech? 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Larson Does It Again!

  • By S. Morris on 24-06-18

Larson Does It Again!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-06-18

I always look forward to a new release by B.V Larson and especially so when it's an Undying Mercenaries one. This has been my favourite series of books by Larson with his Star Force saga coming a close second. I have to say that I like writers that can produce a long series like this and keep the quality high. It seems to me that many authors in the sci-fi genre do engage in sagas that run over a number of books but I know of only a few that run to 9, 10 or more. Rather, they tend to produce mammoth works and limit them to perhaps three or four. This is fine but I think I prefer the shorter, more pacey stories such as those in this series as you get more in the long run.

There was a considerable gap between the previous in this series, Blood World and the book before. Usually Larson can crank out these quicker and I think work on his various other projects slowed him down. I felt that Blood World wasn't the best work he has done and got the feeling that it was perhaps a stop-gap story. I am very pleased to say that Dark World is a much better book and is right back up there with his best in this series.

When Larson is on form, as he is here, I find that I lose myself in the world Larson has created. James McGill is once more our hapless hero that thinks on his feet, is a ladies man and the sort of likeable rogue we'd all like to know. Larson doesn't over complicate his characters and thus never gets bogged down with unnecessary plot excursions. His stories are simple and yet compelling and his brand of sci-fi is highly accessible. One has to wonder when Hollywood has clearly run out of ideas as to why they don't mine the vast potential in these and other Larson stories rather than giving us abysmal movies that are totally forgettable.

I was hooked from the get go and my interest was maintained throughout. Larson's efficient and unpretentious prose pulls the reader right into his vivid worlds and he has the ability to come up with interesting and imaginative aliens.

It's a pleasure and a relief to see Mark Boyett narrating again and his consistency in his character voices over the series is fantastic. He is the voice of McGill and company and let this always be the case.

A couple of observations that I noted were that Adjunct Thompson was referred to by McGill early on in the book as Specialist in one scene. Other than that, the only odd thing I felt with the story as a whole was the lack of heavy weapons being used. There were hoards of small flying aliens in a couple of scenes that could've been dispatched easily with a dozen Beltchers set to wide aperture. This powerful weapon was totally lacking on the battlefield which puzzled me as so much more damage to the enemy could have been wrought with far fewer human casualties. Additionally, what ever happened to the "Dragons" or powered exo-skeletons seen used to good effect in Machine World? With more armour like that along with the heavy weapons mentioned, I think the assault on Dark World would have been far more effective. I suppose that might make the story much less interesting and so I sort of understand where the author was coming from. Still, it's a glaring issue.

All very minor observations aside, I enjoyed Dark World immensely and would thoroughly recommend this book.


4 of 4 people found this review helpful