Book Review: “The Seafort Saga: Children of Hope” by David Feintuch

Children of HopeTitle: The Seafort Saga: Children of Hope
Author: David Feintuch
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication Date: January 8, 2013
Length: 624 pages

Obtained: I received my copy of Children of Hope through the Cyber Monday sale on Amazon a few months ago. It is a reprint from early 2013.

The Plot: Randolph Carr has been stewing for a long time over the fact that his father was killed because of the friendship he had with Nick Seafort. He knows that his father, Derek Carr, idolized Seafort and would do anything for him, so when news arrived that Derek was dead and that Nick Seafort had let it happen he begins to harbor a grudge the size of a mountain. Then, Nick Seafort sails into orbit around Hope Nation and Randy has the chance to go up to the ship.

Randy sees the visit to Nick’s ship as the opportunity of a lifetime and when he takes a chance on trying to kill Seafort, things get pretty dicey. He spends some time in the brig, winds up back down on the planet, gets rescued by Seafort, enlisted into the Navy, removed from the Navy, re-enlisted once again, and ultimately claimed as Seafort’s new adoptive son. If that sounds like a lot of plot to wind through in one book, it’s because it was more to wind through than any of the books in the series to date.

Along the way through all of these events, Nick and Randy find a way to communication with the beings that use the fish from previous books as transport around the galaxy.

The Commentary: The final step in Nick Seafort letting go of his past, all of his guilt, and finding some peace for the rest of his life is the underlying theme of Children of Hope. While Randy Carr is the viewpoint character for the book, he does spend a lot of time in the presence of Nick and we get to see the changes take place through Randy’s eyes.

I’m not sure how I feel about Randy as a plot-driving character. His motivation for the attempt he makes on Nick’s life was kind of tenuous in my opinion. I had a hard time believing that was the course of action he would take. He is also a bit of a punk most of the time and I don’t believe that Nick would be as willing to overlook as much as he over the course of events.

The big moment in Children of Hope deals with the fish aliens returning to Hope Nation and this type trying to communicate with humanity rather than destroy them. Over the course of the book Nick and Randy, especially Randy, devise a rudimentary system of glyphs and images that they use to communicate with the outrider that the fish delivers to the system. The outrider reveals that they really don’t want to be enemies, that they have a much more benign reason for coming back after all the years since Nick defeated them near Earth. I admit, I was skeptical of this plot twist. One part of me felt like it was a bit tacked on to the end. Another part of me felt like it deserved its own book, but that the idea was solid.

Perhaps that book is the eighth book that the author was unable to finish before his passing in 2006. I’d be really interested to know if it was or not. Well, I’d be really interested to know if the unwritten book had more to do with the new relationship with the fish aliens and where humanity goes from there.

Needs More: Nicholas Seafort front and center. While Nick does take a somewhat prominent role in the story, I wish the book had been written from his point of view instead of from Randolph Carr’s. As the last book in the series it would have been nice to have one more book inside of his head.

Needs Less: Posturing. Towards the end of the book all parties involved with the conflict at hand do an awful lot of posturing to each other. I’m okay with a little bit of that for the sake of the plot, but it got a bit repetitive when it was all said and done. Most of the posturing came from the Church representatives in the final showdown with Randolph Carr. The Church folks really got under my skin by the time I was done.

Worth It? As the last book in The Seafort Saga, Children of Hope is probably worth it to anyone who has read the previous six books in the series. Is it the strongest of the books? I don’t think so. I’d say it’s 50/50 on whether or not the read was worth it.

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Book Review: “The Seafort Saga: Patriarch’s Hope” by David Feintuch

Patriarch's HopeTitle: The Seafort Saga: Patriarch’s Hope
Author: David Feintuch
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication Date: January 8, 2013
Length: 496 pages

Obtained: My version of Patriarch’s Hope is a reprint from last year that I grabbed during the big online sale Amazon had on Cyber Monday a few months ago.

The Plot: Following the events of Voices of Hope, Nicholas Seafort is once again the Secretary General and in full control of the government. He is working towards getting the navy back up and running while at the same time heading off attacks by countless governmental factions. The trouble is, there is a new environmental terrorist group that wants to force Seafort’s hand. They want him to change course on his political agenda and work immediately to restore the Earth and fight back the environmental decay. Seafort’s son ends up making a compelling argument and Nick does change his course, but at a price. The navy that Seafort loves so much revolts against the new politics and he is forced to make a plethora of sacrifices in the name of putting down the revolt and saving the Earth from its terrible fate.

The Commentary: This is the book were Nick Seafort finally breaks free from the Navy. In all the other books he has been consistent in sticking up for the Navy as the most honorable organization he’s seen, but this book puts all of that on the line. Truth be told, Patriarch’s Hope is really two books, smashed together into one. The first half is a book about Nick dealing with the threat of a terrorist group that wants him to switch from his political stance that favors the Navy to one that favors the environment of the planet. Once Nick makes the decision to make that switch, the second book begins and focuses on the fallout of such a decision and the revolt by the newest naval ship, Galactic. These were to very different stories and they featured two very different versions of Nick Seafort. I really wonder if David Feintuch intended for them to be two separate books at some point but then decided to combine them after the fact.

Patriarch’s Hope also features a much larger cast than the previous books. Nick Seafort is joined by adult version of several young characters from the past books, his wife, his son, his old friends, and even the leaders of the Church he previously held so dear. It’s a massive cast of characters to navigate, but it gave Feintuch the ability to really deepen the development of Nick as a primary protagonist. Seeing all of these individuals from past books convene together was a big catalyst for Nick as a father, husband, politician, commander, and human being. The transformation as he began to realize the impact for good he had on all of their lives was pretty significant.

This is one of the better paced books in the series so far. A couple of the others had portions where the action really slowed down and seemed to drag, but not this one. I was grateful for the improved pacing because this is one of the longer books as well and it had a lot of ground to cover.

Needs More: Derek Carr. He is featured a lot more in this book that I initially would have expected, but I was still left wanting a lot more of him. He was so fiercely loyal to Nick Seafort and he was not afraid to throw things back in Seafort’s face if there was a need. It would have been great if Derek Carr could have had an entire book to himself at some point in the series.

Needs Less: Retaking the Galactic after the Captain of the ship revolts. The act of retaking the ship was fine, but that piece of the story lasted about 30 pages too long in my opinion. It could have been handled a lot more efficiently.

Worth It? I think this was one of the better installments to the entire series. If you have already made it this far into The Seafort Saga then you should definitely keep going with this one. If you haven’t read any of the books in the series, this might actually be a decent place to start if you want to see what the characters are all about. If you like it you can always go back and read the first few books to get the back story, but it isn’t necessary to enjoy Patriarch’s Hope if you just jump right in.

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Looking Back at April 2014

Another month, another look back at how my last month of reading went. April was a pretty busy month for me personally as I made trips to Denver and Los Angeles to see family for various reasons, but thanks to a couple of plane rides, I still managed to stay on pace towards my 100 books read in the year goal. This month I had a book to read provided by a publisher, the chance to finally finish one of my incomplete series, a couple of unknown authors, and a couple novels by a favorite.

The list of books I finished in April:

Somewhat surprisingly, Fortune’s Pawn was probably my favorite book of the month. I love all of the books in The Seafort Saga, but Fortune’s Pawn was an awful fun time while I was reading it. I think I really had been starved for some light-hearted sci-fi action and didn’t really know it. The same could be said for Crimes Against Magic, it was good fun, exciting characters, and off the beaten path for me personally. Looking back on the month, I have to say none of the books were disappointing, which isn’t always the case. Usually I have one or maybe two that really didn’t do it for me, but not this time.

I was really happy that I managed to finish the final books of The Seafort Saga after so long of trying to get that series completed. Those books might not be for everyone, but I really liked them a lot, and now I can say I’ve read them, and that I’ve finished off one of the bigger uncompleted series on my list. It’s all smooth sailing from here now, right?

Book Review: “The Seafort Saga: Voices of Hope” by David Feintuch

Voices of HopeVoices of Hope turns the tables entirely on what a book in The Seafort Saga can expect to be when you read it. The previous four books in the series were all written with a first person point of view, all of them from the view of Nicholas Seafort. With this book, everything is still written in the first person, but there are several different viewpoints, all of which are very central to the events that take place.

Philip Tyre Seafort, Nick’s son, is one of those viewpoint characters. Along with him are Pook, a trannie from New York; Mr. Chang, a neutral trader trannie; and Jared Tenere, the son of Adam Tenere, Nick’s assistant. The chapters written from Pook and Chang’s viewpoint are all written using the very thick trannie accent, which can be a little difficult to get used to understanding.

It was rather strange to go from seeing through Nick’s eyes for every book and then switch to the eyes of characters I’d never met before. Voices of Hope takes place about 15 years after Fisherman’s Hope, after Nick Seafort has spent a period of time in various political offices and then retired to what he hoped would be a quiet life out of the public eye. This is Nick Seafort however, so of course he does not get his wish.

Almost all of the action in this book takes place in the trannie world on the surface streets of New York City. Jared Tenere finds himself lost in their world while trying to run away from his father and Philip tries to track him down and winds up fending for himself against the trannies as well. Soon enough they are tangled up every which way with Pook and Mr. Chang and their world. The trannies are losing their source of water as the government routes the water to new skyscrapers they are building. By the end of the book the trannies are revolting against the government, tearing down skyscrapers, and going toe to toe with the military forces sent to quell them.

Nick Seafort is present from time to time for a lot of these events, but he is always shown through the eyes of another character. On the whole I did not mind that approach, but I also was hoping to see a little more of him to observe how he continues to change as a person. In what little interaction there was, the chapters from Philip’s point of view were the most informative. Nick loves his family very much, but he still struggles with the balance between duty and love. Towards the end of the book he is part of the action much more often, almost entirely alongside his son and at that point the author really starts to show how age, time, and being a father has helped change him for the better. He has even added a little bit of sneakiness into his dealing with other powerful figures as a result of his time in politics.

From my understanding, Voices of Hope is a unique entry into this series. The final two books revert back to being from the viewpoint of Nick while staying in the first person. I wonder if David Feintuch made the conscious decision to write Voices of Hope differently because in order to set up the remainder of the story he needed the reader to see things from a different perspective. Hopefully be the end of this month I’ll be able to finish the series and see how everything finally turns out for Nicholas Seafort.

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Book Review: “The Seafort Saga: Fisherman’s Hope” by David Feintuch

Fisherman's HopeI am determined to see Nicholas Seafort become a changed and dare I say, happy individual by the time I’m finished reading this entire series. Fisherman’s Hope is the fourth of seven books, and while Nicholas is not where I want to see him yet, this book gives the largest glimpse that he might find peace yet. He is still a very complicated and emotionally damaged individual, but I think there is light at the end of the tunnel for him by the time the series is finished.

Fisherman’s Hope picks up about two months following the events of Prisoner’s Hope. Nick has been given the position of Commandant of the Naval Training Academy and as can be expected, he is completely out of his depth. He is well aware of the rules and regulations that all of the young cadets should be learning and following, but he lacks the empathy to oversee the cadets during their most vulnerable moments. This causes a major problem as the book progresses. There are several cadets that find themselves directly connected with whatever Nick is involved with, and try as he might, Nick just cannot manage to find the right balance between discipline and care.

A lot of Fisherman’s Hope follows a similar tone as the previous three books. Seafort has a hard time relating to the needs of his cadets and the other officers serving underneath his command. He also finds himself overridden with guilt and fear at times, but he does begin to make progress towards the end of this book. There is a bit of an interlude in the middle of the book when Nick travels down to the surface streets of New York City to where his wife Annie is from to find her after she runs away from the mental health facility that was helping her recover from the events on Hope Nation. Nick is desperate to find her, so desperate that he actually strong arms the Admiralty into reassigning Eddie Boss to assist him on the streets. That’s a big deal after he sent Eddie away in the previous book after he and Annie had an affair under Nick’s nose.

Nick does eventually find Annie, but he knows she’s too damaged to ever love him again, so he arranges for her to stay at his old boyhood home with Eddie Boss to watch over her and then returns to the training academy.

The final act is where Fisherman’s Hope really shines. The fish aliens have arrived in home system and being to decimate Earth with falling rocks much like they did with Hope Nation. The Navy is on its heels and nobody is making good decisions, leading to the fish overpowering most of the remaining ships. Nick makes a daring gamble and loads cadets and midshipman into the training ships from the academy’s orbiting station and plots out a plan to caterwaul their drives to attract the fish so close to the sun that they won’t be able to escape. There is just one problem. It means sending the brave cadets and midshipman to their deaths, something Nick knows is necessary, but hates himself for doing nonetheless.

I think the final action in Fisherman’s Hope is the best I’ve seen in the series to this point. It provided the catalyst for Nick to truly begin to change when he survives after thinking there really was no chance for any of them. It was the first time I really felt like Nick as a character understood the things others were going through in a way that made sense and that he could process. I’m very interested to see what that means for the last three books in the series I’ve yet to read.

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