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Summary

USA Today Best-seller Rhett C. Bruno's debut sci-fi series is a gritty, space-opera epic perfect for fans of The Expanse!

Earth is a dying planet. To survive, humanity founds the Circuit, a string of colonies across the solar system, dedicated to mining resources vital to preserving what remains of mankind. Here there are no heroes or villains, only those willing to do what's necessary to survive.

The New Earth Tribunal, a powerful religious faction, has risen to rule the Circuit. They believe a Spirit within the Earth will one day appear and welcome humanity back home. Following a string of seemingly random attacks, the Tribunal suspects its mortal enemy, the Ceresians, have again rallied to challenge their absolute rule. But a new, sinister threat has arisen - and it plans to bring down the Tribunal once and for all.

Join an unlikely band of would-be saviors - the Tribunal's best spy, a roguish Ceresian mercenary, a subservient android, and a disgraced general - as they are drawn into a conspiracy destined to change the Circuit forever.

"Bruno has crafted a complex, multi-dimensional story that combines the best of his genre with age-old truths - and quandaries - about humanity, politics, religion, family, and, yes, love." (Portland Book Review)

©2017 Diversion Books (P)2018 Podium Publishing

Critic reviews

"All the distinctive voices carry a complicated, ultimately very human, story to a powerful conclusion." (Audiofile Magazine)

What listeners say about The Circuit

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Intelligent Science-fiction

There’s intellectual thought behind this book is it All for the greater good for humanity to move forward ? To become the villain to force change ?

Good read and believable futuristic tale

And the narrator is brilliant one of the few American narrators I can listen to in science fiction

5 people found this helpful

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This unit does not bleed.

Several centuries before, Earth had finally succumbed to mankind's abuse, killing millions and forcing survivors to find new homes in space, only made possible by the mined gravitum. The Circuit connected, protected and made travel possible between the numerous colonies. Many clans and factions had grown up but, after war, the Tribunes dominated with the religious beliefs about Earth itself and a far crude revival when the totally inhospitable homeworld would again be welcoming, green and filled with life, the atmosphere breathable, the ground not giving to ferocious upheavals. One man, Cassius Vale, had been instrumental in winning the war and had been rewarded by being made a Tribune, so becoming one of the four most powerful beings in the universe. However, the death of his only son so grieved him that he left his exhausted position and determined on a very different way forward. And he built a different son, ADAM.

Skillfully world building and breathing life into his characters, Rhett Bruno has written an enthralling story of the struggle to survive, political intrigue and double-cross, familial love and hate, friendship, courage, battles, murder, the threat of renewed war, new technologies and an android's coming of age. Narrator, Jefferson Mays, gives a pleasant, clear and well modulated reading, filled with understanding and giving differentiated voicings for all of the protagonists. His narration at first is in slow motion, which adds even greater strength to the action and emphasises the power of ADAM. However, this reader later increased the playback speed to 1.25, which in no way diminished the excellent performance.

The Circuit includes all three full length novels of the Circuit Trilogy - nearly thirty hours to explore the worlds, the people and their motivations as terror once again sweeps over the inhabitants inside the Circuit. Intriguing as well as exciting, and even better in audio, his book is not to be missed.

4 people found this helpful

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Jefferson mays!

Mays was the selling point for this book. Never heard of the author but needed to fill the void left by the expanse. Mays is a great narrator and I hope he gets more releases on this genre soon!

Regarding the story being too long, noted in some reviews, just want to point out that this is a trilogy. Quite short in comparison to the expanse.

I enjoyed the story, so much that I’m writing the review before finishing the last book. There may have been a lack of depth and absence of scientific explanation, but the story, in my opinion, makes up for it.

A lot of plans within plans, taking lessons from other sci-fi writers. Not sure where it’s heading for the climax but I have some ideas and I just hope the author goes Down the path I want.

Give it a go, it’s not the expanse, but it’s not trying to be either.

On another note, I listen at 1.5/1.75 speed and Mays is still perfectly clear.

3 people found this helpful

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shocking

Bought this as recommended for readers of the Expanse...the algorithm is clearly not working...what a load of generic, unimaginative twaddle. Audible doods....what are you playing at?! Hard science was clearly having the day off. Poor characterisation, terrible dialogue and story telling, and a lot of it did not make any sense with characters acting "out of character" withen the same paragraph they were "in" character....if that last sentence didnt make sense try listening to the first chapter....the great Sci-fi authors are rolling, while probably laughing, in their graves. Hard Science
? Hard avoid.

2 people found this helpful

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  • MG
  • 21-12-18

Exceptional

An utterly brilliant, well written, superbly executed adventure. I wasnt expecting much from an author Id never heard of - but now Rhett C.Bruno has another fan.

If you like Political, but action packed Sci-fi - listen/read/ingest this

2 people found this helpful

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Writer probably has OCD!

This may have a plot but I think it is hidden behind the endless detail. World building requires some detail in order to paint a realistic picture. What I don't need is enough detail to paint a world. Combine this with what I choose to call effluent dialogue (like fluent, but shitty), and you have a tedious listen. The narrator was doing his best. I didn't get past the first few chapters.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent !

High Octane indeed!, Jefferson Mays delivers a great performance. Great characters and lots of interesting plots. highly enjoyable

1 person found this helpful

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Space Fan-Tas-Tic

What a great book the circuit is full of an all to believable world with characters that appeal to the reader, or in this case the listener.
Who would think that a robot would be one you can feel for or that those who think there doing good can make us really think what would i do? and how I would feel. Rhett Bruno is starting to become a household k own popular sci fi author with good reason and this show cases why.
Although I think this worked better as a book rather than an audio almost 30hrs of a deep political epic is great and the skills of Jefforson Mays does great with his sonorous take on Cassius and Adam especially.
Some of the female characters i would of thought sounded different in my own head but he does a good job I think and i can see why he is so sought after.
For me the real skill is the political landscape and the insights into the characters that really grip you, something i think Rhett excels at.
For those new to his work then this is a great introduction to his work on audio and I'm sure will be the first of many as his name gathers followers and fans. Hopefully some of his other books follow suit as i think a lot of his work and characters need Audio and as an avid fan of good narration this is all good for us Audio fans.
This audio was requested and i have chosen to leave my thoughts on this.

1 person found this helpful

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Complex human drama set inspace

I struggled with the first few chapters . So many characters and places to wrestle with quickly . I nearly gave up . Glad I didn't ' t . This is a book you have to actively LISTEN to . Numerous threads and agendas .
Interesting premise .... humanity's progress and expansion into space stifled by a tyrannical quasi religious elite . A sadly recurring theme throughout history .( Galileo ? ) . Exciting story with moments of real tension and pathos . Bittersweet ending . Could there be a sequel ? Excellent narration . Distinct voices for each character . Recommend .

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This was no good

Narrator is good, actualy the only reason I finished.

After chapt 14 if the first book I knew it was a story about pinocchio turn Frankenstein monster in space.

I did not expect the end; I did not think the author was so stupid.

The book is poorly written, all the tech an physics are glossed over and totally out anyways.

The author really needs a physics class.

crap on a cracker

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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-09-18

If you liked The Expanse, walk away.

If you came here from the Expanse and want another thrilling space opera, this isn’t it.

Jefferson Mays is fantastic, granted. But even his performance can’t save this.

25 people found this helpful

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  • Christopher
  • 21-07-18

An Epic Trilogy

I thoroughly enjoyed all three of the Circuit novels. As a huge fan of sci-fi, it is a real treat when I find a new author and series to get into. The universe that Rhett Bruno has created here is astounding. Each book builds up to an epic crescendo, with plenty of twists and turns throughout. This is one of those series that leaves you depressed when it is over, as you really feel like you are part of the world and you never want it to end. The character development is amazing, in particular, a certain non-human is probably one of my favorite characters in any sci-fi universe. I can't wait to see what else Rhett Bruno has in store for us!

10 people found this helpful

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  • Tm
  • 19-08-18

Arrrrggghhhhh

I just can’t continue. How did this book get so many 5 star ratings? The other critical reviews are 100% correct in my opinion. I’m about 4 hours into this book a could not care less what happens next. I am sending this one back. Btw Mays did a fine job. I don’t think he was a good choice for this book. His performance didn’t help or hurt this book it just is.

20 people found this helpful

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  • Alan McDonald
  • 03-07-18

An author who understands science fiction and true story telling!

I truly don’t know where to start in reviewing this tremendous work of sci-fi art. Because that’s what it is.
The narration is flawless! The narrator makes it seem like I’m really in the story.
This is truly a pure understanding of how to compose a story with rich characters along with intricate yet totally understandable backstories, unbelievable, but realistic environments, wonderful awe inspiring action at every turn, but I personally think that the real treat is the lesson the author and narrator have shown humanity.
This tale exposes all of our very real flaws as a supposedly civilized species.
It’s a mirror image of today’s horror here on Earth.
We lie to each other, cheat each other, kill one another and at the same time we’re destroying the only home we have.
Mr. Bruno, I hope I’m not reading more into your stories here than you wanted, but for me it was an exciting lesson.
I can’t give out spoilers, so all I can say to others is to read and or listen to this trilogy and if you love science fiction then this is for you.
Thank you Mr. Bruno and thanks to the narrator, Mr. Jefferson Mays.
Sincerely,
Alan McDonald
(note: my vision is impaired, so I was helped by my daughter to read this wonderful tale and I’ve managed to read most of his other wonderful works as well. The audiobook version provided me with no restrictions and was simply wonderful)

28 people found this helpful

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  • arinc429
  • 07-08-18

Excellent performance undercut by a poor story.

Hearing all the great reviews for this title and being a fan of Jefferson Mays’ narration from The Expanse, I had high hopes for The Circuit. Unfortunately, I have to say that the story is just plain juvenile. It indulges in some ridiculous tropes that would be shameful in a B-movie Hollywood production. The characters tend to be painfully one-dimensional retreads with hardly an artifice of humanity or believability (some much, much worse than others). When it comes to the settings, their scientific and technological premeses have an ounce of potential here and there, but Bruno just fails to sell it to my suspension of disbelief.

Let me put it this way: If you approach The Circuit as a YA novel and aren’t prone to cringing over simplistic and fantastical storytelling, you’ll do fine. For the rest of us, Mays’ superb narration skills just can’t rescue the underlying material.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Norma Carroll
  • 09-07-18

Wonderful

I liked the narrator. I loved the story. I carried my device around the house with me and listened while I made dinner, checked emails, etc. Wonderful!

8 people found this helpful

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  • Peterson
  • 24-11-18

Tedious to the end

I will admit I went along for the ride for the entire 28 hours. It seemed like an obligation towards the end. The first few hours were quite enjoyable. Compelling characters and interesting (if not flawed) world building. And, as is usual, Jefferson Mays skillfully voiced the many characters in the story.
Ultimately, the early momentum was lost and the character flaws became more apparent. The Evil Genius of the story was only a genius relative to his Idiot Opponents. The Nobel Mercenary wasn't that bright either. The Beautiful Spy/Assassin also turned out to be a bit dim as well. I stopped caring about the narrative so much that Solar Genocide was boring.
Early potential squandered.
Sigh.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Daniel O.
  • 13-07-18

Surprised and disappointed (in a good way)!

I hadn't read or listened to any works by Rhett C. Bruno before this title nor have I listened to any works narrated by Jefferson Mays. I was happily surprised at how much I enjoyed this book (compilation) and was disappointed when it finally came to a conclusion (I wanted more!). The publisher's summary compares it to The Expanse and I can see some similarities but I also got a slight "Red Rising" by Pierce Brown vibe (books 2+). I feel like if you enjoy either of those series this book would be a great addition to your reading/listening library.

The story took a bit to get going while it introduced characters and the universe (i'd say about 20 chapters or so before I was moved from interested to thoroughly hooked) but once it hooked me I couldn't stop listening! I think what I found most interesting about this book was that, despite some pretty clear indications that some 'bad' decisions were made (i.e., serious negative consequences for many), I really liked all of the 4 main characters! It was (for me) a unique experience where you start rooting for the 'bad guys' alongside the 'good guys' and find yourself at odds with who you really want to 'win'.

I was pleasantly surprised by the wonderful narration by Jefferson Mays and would not hesitate to pick up additional works narrated by him! Excellent performance and character variation throughout!

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Michael C Craven
  • 07-12-19

totally absorbing

This is one space story that keeps you listening. There are no slack spots as you follow Cassius and Sage in their adventure through the circuit.

2 people found this helpful

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  • C.Dale
  • 27-12-18

Middling Science Fantasy rescued by Narrator

So where to start with this smoking, but not quite dumpster fire...

I really can't understand why this has gotten such good ratings... I mean if you don't like serious Sci-Fi, then fine, but any hard Sci-Fi fans are going to be repeatedly and highly annoyed with this book. If you swapped out the Science Fiction terms with Fantasy ones this would be a better book, but by how much is questionable. He would be right at home with Kevin J. Anderson and his Fantasy disguised as Science Fiction tripe.

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

So lets start with the Cons as there are precious few Pros:

Most of these points are all kind of linked as the go back to the authors limited science knowledge:

1. Author is lazy - They clearly did little to no research - on anything-. This reads like someone read or watched "The Expanse" and thought "I wanna do this!" and went to cobble together a bunch of sci-fi tropes into this mess of a story. They clearly have no grasp of space flight, space propulsion, and has a tenuous grasp of basic science at best. There is little description of the ships/space stations or their workings etc.. He uses a lot of high science fiction tropes like space elevators, light sails, etc, but clearly doesn't understand a thing about how they would actually work so instead of actually researching them to make the story more believable and descriptive he glosses over -all of it-. To Sci-Fi fans who are sticklers for your Science you're are you going to be highly, and repeatedly, annoyed by this book. If you're a casual SciFi fan and either don't know the science (Like the Author) or can look past it then carry on, but this was a very difficult story to get through for me.

2. The entire plot is based off a non-sense element called Gravitum to which he gives no explanation... it's just some magical element that defies all known physics yet is somehow mined deep out of the earth and other planets and for some reason caused major planetary upheavals when mined... yet before is discovery subduction, plate tectonics. volcanoes etc. never managed to bring it to the earths surface.... Uhm.. 'kay... Of course he gives no history of how it was found, how it works outside of it somehow creates gravity when an electric current is passed through it... seriously?? *sigh* It's simply a poorly conceived McGuffin to base the entire story on. It almost comes off as some kind of replacement for Dark Matter, but even than falls short given it's ridiculous properties.

3. Author clearly doesn't understand weapons, weapon systems, or military tactics at a basic level. For starters he outright stole "Pulse Rifle" from Aliens, and what's even better is they use 'clips'. Pardon me while I chase my rolling eyes. Anyone who knows anything about firearms knows that a "clip" is short for "Stripper Clip" which were used with old WWII and pre-WWII bolt action rifles like the Mosin Nagant, Enfield, Springfield M1903 etc.. All modern firearms use MAGAZINES. Sure you can get rifles that use clips, I have a Mosin myself, but they're either old military surplus or reproductions of some sort. Also while we're on the subject - Rail Guns don't shoot white beams of light that cut like powerful lasers... they're projectile weapons. Space battles are conducted ah la Star Wars, but not in a good way. I.E. Fighters and capital ships buzzing around at close range like the Battle of Brittan or something. Oh, and he uses "Rockets" and "Missiles" interchangeably... *sigh* What else... His descriptions of small arms firefights are glossed over for the most part - he really needs to go read and take notes from Joel Shepherd or one of the more serious Military Sci-Fi authors in general. There's a scene from the 1987 Movie "Throw Momma From The Train" In the opening scene with Billy Crystal's Character's Creative writing class where a woman is reading the end of her WWII submarine story, and it goes:

"Dive, dive!" yelled the captain through the thing.
So the man who makes it dive pressed a button or something and it dove, and the enemy was foiled again.
"Looks like we foiled them again," said Dave.
"Yeah," said the captain. "We foiled those bastards again, didn't we, Dave?"
"Yeah," said Dave.
The end.

This scene repeatedly popped up in my mind while listening to this.

4. This is a great one - So there's these 'solar arks' that I assume travel around the 'circuit' at a fraction of the speed of light that I wont go into the purpose of here but suffice to say there little more than cargo ships and are propelled by... get this... Solar Sails... apparently very tiny ones at that given the meager description of them, but they clearly don't seem to be the needed massive size to pull a massive ship around at whatever fraction of light-speed they're supposedly traveling... but here's the real kicker... they're traveling around the 'circuit' in what one must assume is some kind of changing circular orbit as the pass by various planets.... They don't stop, they just fly through more McGuffin Rings that somehow allow them to transfer cargo and people at said fraction the speed of light without everything being turned into a massive kinetic explosion - again courtesy of this Gravitum again. I'd also really like to know how these solar sail ships are going anywhere but away from the sun.. that's how solar sails work.. you can't orbit a star with solar sails, you can't travel towards a star with solar sails... once you hit a systems heliosphere solar.. well.. I could go on but you get the idea. - guy didn't do a lick of research on any of this from what I can tell. It's possible I missed some critical bit.. I missed a little bit in the middle where I fell asleep while listening, and could not be bothered to go back like I normally would, but I'm not putting any money on that.

3. He relies on melodrama way too much - Uses terms like quivering/biting lips, 'sniveled' etc. when they should rely on description to describe the characters actions/state of mind. Melodrama is the crutch of the weak author.

4. Characters are shallow with little depth. One of the main characters is suppose to be this bad-bass spec-ops type but she comes off as a fish out of water most of the time and robot like in personality - They supposedly have this implant and affects them to kind of be this way, but you don't find this out until way later and it's a case of too little too late. Bonus here is the character as a cybernetic arm.. that's all fine and dandy until they start using said arm to hurl things around with no thought to mass/weight/leverage etc.. Don't care how strong the arm is, you try and throw/pick something up that weighs close to or more than you etc. you'll move instead of the object at best, at worst you'll rip the stupid arm off at the interface, or you'll wrench things around looking like a fool when basic physics gets in the way. All the other characters are shallow and simple as well. The main 'bad guy' (If he can be called that... none of the characters are particularly likeable) just comes off as a "Get off my lawn!" angry old man who's obsession and hatred come across as contrived to drive the story.

Part of the problem is this author does something that tends to irk me when it's not done properly - you come into the story feeling like you've missed other books. You're dropped right into the 'action' feeling you've missed critical backstory from other books. This is something that I accuse David Brin of as he has done the same thing in his Uplift series of books.. the difference here is Brin's characters seem lifelike where in here they just seem like cardboard archetypes.

5. This is probably one of the least egregious things, but is still annoying - There's this disease called "The Blue Death" that one of the main characters has that is caused by exposure to this mysterious Gravitum... again no explanation of what is is, what it exactly does other than make you waste away etc.. Funny... stuff is in the earth where it's supposed to mined out somehow, yet nobody is all of recorded history has encountered it and contracted the disease etc... See previous comment regarding authors lack of any grasp of Planetary Geology. This is again a poorly conceived McGuffin that seems to serve no purpose other than to generate more melodrama and drive the story along a certain path for that character.

There are other things I could gripe about, but these cover the main issue I have.

So.. Onto the single Pro:

1. Jefferson Mays was amazing as usual (Thankfully he didn't have to pronounce Gimbals in this book, which he for some inexplicable reason continues to pronounce as "JIM-bals" in the Expanse books). The only other narrator who could have pulled this off and made it a decent listen would be John Lee IMO. A bad narrator can ruin a good book, but a great narrator can make a bad book at least tolerable and that's the case here. Thanks to Mays he kept me engaged enough to want to see it through to the end to see what happens, but it was difficult all the same.

I really can't recommend this book to hard sci-fi fans. If you're the type that likes "Battle for the Stars" over "Interstellar" you'll probably enjoy it, however.

5 people found this helpful