I have previously written on my favorite science fiction series, Count to the Eschaton Sequence, before. The first book is Count to a Trillion and is an excellent adventure science fiction novel.
This retrospective was a long time coming. I’ve found John C. Wright’s work fascinating, if not a bit verbose in areas, and creative. He’s held up in some circles as a master of the craft, and it’s easy to see why. He throws out so many creative ideas, it feels like God gave him a double-portion of the creativity he gave most.
I would simply say I admire his work.
There are six books in the series and according to the reviews they get better as they go on. However, I’ve read them and I can admit that the journey starts off on a strong foot. There’s an issue with the second book being very different than the first, but the first is a fantastic story.
The third and fourth books are good, but I really feel like the fifth and sixth were the best. The sixth book was actually huge in scale, far grander and stranger than anything else in the series.
Now how do I describe this series?
Let me start with the first book. These books in general deal with transhumanism, the growth of artificial intelligence, and ancient aliens. The main character injects a sort of brain medical solution thanks to the issue of translating an ancient alien message discovered in space. He uses the alien message itself to modify his brain and comes up with a minor version of an improvement to his brain. It’s fascinating. Along with it, though, go echoes of changing history. The astronauts become conquistadors, and the main character becomes a duelist and renegade. He fights the system of technocratic feudalism.
Amidst it all is Princess Rania. She’s the most interesting character to me, and Wright wrote her as a sort of King of Elfland’s Daughter type of character. She’s beautiful, brilliant, and is able to hold her own with the main character. However, she disappears and is seen as a kind of space goddess. It’s fantastic, again.
The biggest complaints people have are the following:
One – The main character Menelaus speaks like a Texan, since he is, and it’s hard to read. Well this isn’t a very good complaint, though I admit his speaking style takes time to adjust to. It’s fine, though. The duels, in particular, are interesting chess matches with high stakes.
Two – The characters are weak. I couldn’t disagree with this more. I get that they are, in fact, archetypes. But that’s actually the point. They become more than they were as a simple individual, and grow insanely. These characters are creatively written and brilliantly grow throughout the six books. It all leads to a fascinating conclusion.
Three – Each book has a cliff hanger, for the most part. This is true, and if you don’t like that, this may leave you with a sour taste. But honestly, it pays dividends.
Read the first book. It’s great and if you like it try the second. If you’re lost then, just drop it. But honestly, the entire series is worth a read and I’m so mad that more people aren’t in love with these books like I am.
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