Orphan's Triumph (Jason Wander) by Robert Buettner

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Orphan's Triumph (Jason Wander) by Robert Buettner

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Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Iain Wear
Reviewed by Iain Wear
Summary: A fast paced romp through space, in keeping with the rest of the Jason Wander series, helped along by a wonderful ending and some fun twists along the way.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: June 2009
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: 978-1841497624

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One of the major problems with science fiction series is that the titles aren't always terribly imaginative. At first glance, the cover of Orphan's Triumph gives away exactly how the story is going to turn out. It's great credit to Robert Buettner that what I expected wasn't what happened.

The war between humans and slugs has now been raging for more than four decades. As in any war, there have been countless deaths, strong bonds formed and even love blossoming. But for the first time, there seems to be an end to the war in sight, as the humans have designed a weapon they think can finish things. The one problem with the plan is that they don't know exactly where to use this weapon, as they've not yet located the slug home world.

However, Jason and his Intelligence colleague Howard have captured a slug ganglion, which acts as the consciousness for the slug armies. They believe that this will hold the location of the home world and let them deliver the war-ending blow. However, the slugs are smarter than they think a promptly steal an entire planet, which was to be the source of the cavorite for the weapon. The human army have found a new cavorite source, but it's not at all easy to collect it. Even if they do succeed, can this long war really be over?

I felt that Orphan's Alliance, the fourth in the series, was lacking a little something that the rest of the series had. Buettner tried to add in a romantic sub-plot to make Jason Wander into a more rounded character than just a fighter. This took some of the edge and some of the pace out of the story last time around. Here, though, Buettner plays to his strengths and that of the series and it's action all the way.

Buettner writes in short, sharp chapters here, similarly to James Patterson, which keep the pages turning and makes the book pass very quickly. Even without this, it's a story that starts at a frantic pace and maintains that the whole way through, with the exception of a couple of parts. The story jumps from one part to another quicker than the ships jump between galaxies and occasionally with the same sense of mild disorientation such space travel leaves the soldiers with.

For me, the real beauty of this story was that the unexpected was always the most likely outcome. Every time things seemed to be settling down and an obvious event looming on the horizon, something completely different happened. This allowed for and, indeed, resulted in many twists and the best was saved for the end of the book, which was the last thing I would have expected to see occur.

Even better, it's not as if the twists felt as if they were pulling things off in a different direction simply to stretch things out and build suspense. Everything that happened seemed perfectly logical and possible in the world that the story inhabits. If anything that happens in a world where humans have spent four decades fighting slugs who have mastered space travel can be logical, anyway. The whole idea may require some suspension of disbelief, but the story never stretches things any further than that, following all the rules that have been set by the series, as strange as they may be.

The characters themselves are reasonably well drawn. Although there is little emotion on show, apart from the obvious sorrow about fallen comrades and the rather gung-ho attitude that has permeated the whole series, these are well-rounded people. They all have distinct personalities and are easily differentiated, despite all being part of the same cause. Whilst the emotional quotient may be low, Buettner's writing is visual enough that it's easy to picture some of the battles and locations, even on a totally alien landscape, the likes of which we've never seen and never will.

This may not be literature as its best, but it certainly is action thriller writing at its best. It maintains a very high pace throughout, but adds in some delightful twists that elevate it above the standard in the genre as a whole and makes it the best of this series in particular. This is in itself a bit of a shame, as it's the last in the series and there's no more to come. But this is a series that started with a bang and has ended with a fusillade.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

For fans of space based shoot-'em-up stories, Chris Bunch's Last Legion series is also well worth a read.

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Buy Orphan's Triumph (Jason Wander) by Robert Buettner at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Orphan's Triumph (Jason Wander) by Robert Buettner at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Orphan's Triumph (Jason Wander) by Robert Buettner at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Orphan's Triumph (Jason Wander) by Robert Buettner at Amazon.com.


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