There are more head-scratchers amid the mere eight 3-star reviews than a much larger number anywhere else. OK, I get that the 1-star reviewers didn’t like the format. Eh, oh well. Can’t please everyone. But several of the 3-star reviews just leave me confused.
Liking the first half, then complaining that “story then devolved into a drier sort of technical narrative simply describing battle after battle” when it’s a military fiction book (in part)? The whole point is that it’s a man that isn’t looking to be a hero and having events thrust it upon him, and a warship that has a second chance, a shot at redemption as it were, but only by hauling more men to their death first? The first half was setting the scene, but the second half was necessary to open the door to a brighter future by regaining military strength a piece at a time. Taj is first seen not even able to fly, and is one of the most feared ships in human space by the end – that can’t happen in one easy step.
Similarly a complex story that interweaves together the lives of a dozen main characters and gives each one a bit of depth might seem a little disjointed because everyone isn’t in ever scene, but by that token so is Tolkien, when you have hobbits going two ways, humans and elves going in others, etc. All the main characters undergo some change, or at least serious development, from the time the reader first sees them to the end. That requires multiple threads being woven together. No, it’s not perfect, and perhaps not as smooth as some might like, but it’s there. For an independently written first novel by someone more a tech-geek than a language-geek with a tight editing budget, it’s about as good as you can expect.
To be sure, most of these are not total WTF reviews, but they don’t really tell me, or other prospective readers, how the reviewer came to their overall “meh” number. If the two that had nothing but good things to say had given 5 stars instead of 3-star reviews, the book would have shown up as a 4.5-star book rather than a 4-star. Not a huge difference, but a measurable one.
In the end, though, I thank everyone that bought the book and thought enough about it, good or bad, to review it.