Being a self published Kindle author myself (shameless plug), I have followed Christian for some time. With a gap opening up in my reading schedule, I decided to take advantage of his generous first trilogy for 99 pence deal and experience the level of writing that comes with no money, no time, no editor, and no publisher.
My initial reaction was one of horror. Corny dialogue, derivative plots, and fast food action. What had I done?
However, given its easy read nature, I decided to persevere and in doing so, I have come to adjust my first analysis.
It is still corny and little effort is made to craft strong individual characters: any one of a number of the major protagonists could be in dialogue and it would not matter who said what as long as someone advanced the plot. As another reviewer has observed, wrinkled old Admirals would not speak in the same manner as surfer dude pilots or fiercely protective mothers. Some deeper work on the characterisations would move this work up to the next level.
The plot is derivative but I do not hold that against a novel. Someone much wiser than me once said that there are only really a dozen or so plots in modern literature; the rest is decoration. A mashup of Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, and Farscape, to name but a few isn’t the worst crime in the world if something original is added; in the case of the Universe in Flames trilogy, that is the introduction of the ancient races based upon the Olympian, Asgardian, and other gods, but as advanced technology races rather than deities. It has been enough to keep me interested
There is certainly a lot of action, with the body count putting Tarantino to shame. BIllions die, giant spacecraft are disposed of at a rate that would make the Flood blush, and super beings kick the crap out of each other, urban landscapes, and planets with gleeful abandon. In this I believe a major problem exists: the nature of equivalent scale. Can the more normal characters really make a difference when a Fury can chop a mountain in half? Christian does manage to compartmentalise character types into matched conflict but occasionally it can go wrong. He also needs to focus on differentiating his battles otherwise they read as being yet more of the same, when all you want to do as a reader is jump to the important parts.
I would definitely recommend that the first book or two be rewritten, not the plot per se but rather making use of the author’s improvement in style, something that has become more obvious as I have journeyed into the second trilogy. There is a readable series in here; it will never be the Culture but then sometimes all we want is a little mayhem.
If you can make it past the corn, and want a space opera that isn’t too taxing intellectually but which will keep you interested, you could do a lot worse.
Author of the Folio 55 series: End of a Girl & Undon now available on Amazon.
Fleecy Moss, author of the Folio 55 series (writing as Nia Sinjorina), End of a Girl & Undon now available on Amazon.