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Title: Conventions of War
Series: Dread Empires Fall #3
Author: Walter Jon Williams
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
Caroline Sula survives the destruction of the secret government and the Naxid takeover. She begins the counter-insurgency which leads to her becoming planetary governor of the former Capital World of the Praxis Empire. She leverages that to get a promotion and to get her own spaceship command. She uses the new tactics and does well in battle. She still has feelings for Gareth but in the end loses out to Gareth’s new wife, who has given birth to his son. She decides that the military life is the life for her.
Gareth Martinez does “fights in space” and wins and stuff. The Naxid’s end up unconditionally surrendering. Gareth doesn’t so much choose his wife and son over Sula as much as he is ambushed by the family and given no choice. Really pulls at the heart strings /sarcasm.
The Empire is at peace but everybody knows that it is only a matter of time before another war breaks out as each species tries to figure out where it stands now.
This book was almost 700 pages and it shouldn’t have been a jot over 300. It was simply too long without enough real story to fill it up. I found myself skipping whole pages of descriptions of almost everything and I didn’t miss one part of the essential plot. So much of the writing just felt unneccessary and almost filler-like.
The fighting, whether with Sula planet side or Gareth in space, was good stuff. However, there was zero tension and you knew they were going to win in one way or another. When you read about their second battle and you’re only on page 300, you KNOW they win. Instead of the Batman roller coaster from Six Flags (where you go upside down multiple times and do all sorts of twisty turny, stomach churning twists), this was much more akin to the Pirates of the Caribbean kiddie ride at Disneyworld. Slow and sedate and enjoyable. But not thrilling by any stretch of the imagination.
There is a whole murder mystery sub-plot that occupies most of Gareth’s time and once again, it felt like padding. You have a whole Space Empire in turmoil and we get a murder mystery? It made the Naxids seems like caricature bad guys since Gareth was able to spend so much focusing on a mystery rather than fighting against them. Once again, it totally destroyed the tension.
The whole Gareth/Sula thing. That really bugged me. I mean, really bugged me. Gareth made his vows to Terza, his new wife and she is now pregnant. Tricked or not, Gareth said the vows and made the decision. Then when Sula decides to pursue him and it appears that he might divorce his wife to be with her and the whole Family ambush right at the end of the book where he decides to stay, it felt like I had eaten one of Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler’s Mystery Sausages (Discworld reference there btw).
Each book in this trilogy dropped a half star for me. I think the quality and style of the writing was exactly the same for the whole thing whereas I was expecting improvement. So it’s not that each book gets worse, it’s that each book doesn’t improve in any way or live up to the premise held forth in the first book.
The cover is the best part of the book and that is a damning indictment no matter how you look at it. * very sad face *