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.