REVIEW: The Deacon's Tale

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REVIEW: The Deacon's Tale

Post by Superbun270 » Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:40 pm

(Repost from the Lost Connection Blog, read the original article at:

To start this, I’d like to say that I’m a huge fan of the Sword Of The Stars series, i’ve racked up over a hundred hours of playtime in Sword Of The Stars 2, and credit to Arinn Dembo, the author of this book and chief lore-writer for the games. I love all the SOTS lore, I think the universe is really unique and interesting, with intriguing technologies and alien cultures. So, you’d think that with such a detailed and original universe, the logical next step would be to write a novel set in the universe. However it seems the skills of writing background fiction do not necessarily transfer to writing science fiction novels.

The story follows the tale of Cai Rui (Or Rui Cai, his names seem to switch order randomly) commander of the black section of Sol Force intelligence, responsible for investigating unexplained phenomena in the galaxy, through the events surrounding the discovery of another sentient race in the galaxy - the Zuul horde of the video games.

Strangely enough, I would recommend reading the appendices of the book, or swatting up on the Lore section of the forums before reading this book, unless you happen to have a working knowledge of Latin, and the languages of the various races in the SotsVerse. The author seems to use other languages all over the place in the story, most of the time without giving a translation within the prose. This felt as if somebody was reading the dialogue down a telephone, and I could only hear half the conversation. The book also references events and relationships between the characters that happened before the book, without explaining them to the reader. Which gave me the feeling of reading part of a series without having read the previous instalments. Aside from these issues, the book is otherwise competently, but not exceptionally written. That said, however, the book has a large cast of characters, and frequently switches between perspectives even within chapters. In some of the more chaotic scenes, these frequent changes in perspective can be disorientating, and leaves the book with a disjointed fleeing.

At the end of the day, this book was an enjoyable read, and I don't regret purchasing it. However I feel that my enjoyment of the book came more from me as a fan of the Sword of the Stars universe than any of Arin Dembo's efforts when crafting this tale. Ishii - a member of the psionic cetacean species, the Liir - was a favourite character of mine. However the Liir were already one of my favourite races In the SotsVerse before reading this book. Finally, for a book called "The Deacon's Tale" I was expecting to hear the story of the events after the Deacon's capture, namely his escape from Sol Force custody and the Origin of the Prester Zuul. However the book ends pretty much right after the Battle of the Jade Mirror and the Deacon's capture. Maybe it should have been called "Cai Rui's Tale" instead (although that doesn't make as good a title!).

In conclusion, as a fan of the Sword of the Stars universe this book was a bit of fun, however as a stand alone work of fiction it doesn't stand up quite as well.

Rating: 7/10
The Verdict: An enjoyable, competent read, but more for fans of the series than the general science fiction readership.

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Re: REVIEW: The Deacon's Tale

Post by Erinys » Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:38 pm

Many thanks for the link!

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