House of Reeds by Thomas Harlan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The House of Reeds is the sequel to Wasteland of Flint, a book I thought very highly of and gave five stars to in this review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show….
In this current book, xenoarcheologist Gretchen Anderssen and her team return and are sent to the planet Jagen – just to file a report, for big money, which must mean something bad. Also, in this book, we find Imperial cruiser, the Henry R. Cornuelle, has been sent to the same location (Jagen), again captained by Captain Hadeishi Mitsuharu of the Imperial Méxica Navy. Why?
On the planet Jagan, there are unusual aliens who have some definite ideas about humans and self-rule and a few other things and there are some with a few scores to settle. And it just may happen that there may be some others out there who are stirring up a hornet’s nest, unbeknownst to Anderssen or Hadeishi or any of a number of other Imperials who are about to be impacted.
In this novel, the Emperor’s youngest son, a foppish screw up if I’ve ever seen one, and one I desperately kept hoping would grow the hell up, is sent to this planet with a few bodyguards to either take credit for putting down a major uprising, ideally with holos of him in blood spattered battle armor and weapons standing over dead enemy bodies, or dying heroically in battle. It’s a win either way for the Emperor. Of course, only certain people know this, obviously none of the aforementioned people. But as soon as he sets foot on the planet, the dandy creates a nightmare for everyone around him and gets himself into impossible situations so that you feel so.very.sorry for his bodyguards.
Gretchen befriends an alien in a hostile alien city and finds a First Sun relic, what they’ve been after, and gains immense knowledge and power, without anyone really finding out, but has to escape with the help of this alien and as the planet explodes around them, the bulk of the book takes place with everyone trying to escape to other places, looking for safety, even with Mitsuharu and his crew trying to get to and from and to the ship again, even though it has been violently attacked and partially destroyed.
The book is almost as good as its predecessor, but I’ve got to knock it down a notch from five stars to four for one major reason: it’s too damn complicated! That’s not to say I’m a complete dumbass. I don’t think I am. I’m not one of the smartest, I know, but I’ve got a fairly decent IQ and I read a lot (95 books by mid-July this year) and I usually understand most books (having read Sartre’s Being and Nothingness, which was one of the hardest ever), but this book is ridiculous. First, there are way too many characters to keep track of. So many, that it’s almost as bad as a David Weber novel, which is saying something. But at least Weber puts a list of his characters at the end of his books so you can look them up. This just leaves you hanging, wondering who the hell they are. More importantly, as you jump from chapter to chapter, from passage to passage within chapters, you just start to get confused, because there are so many different scenes taking place in so many different locations at once, that you’re just lost, at least I was until the very end of the novel. It took me forever to catch up and figure out who was where, when, and at what point. Call me dumb, but I thought it was needlessly difficult. I’ve read harder, but those books have been what I view as intentionally intellectually more difficult and more stimulating. This book is simply supposed to be an intriguing, entertaining, action/adventure/mystery within a sci fi genre without making you bang your head against the wall five times. At least, that was my expectation.
Anyway, I mostly enjoyed it, frustrations aside. I think it’s a good series. Ambitious at times, but good. An interesting story. It’ll be interesting to see what Harlan does with the third book. Four stars for what could and should have been a five star book. Recommended.
2 thoughts on “A Review of House of Reeds”
Hi! Good to see you. Nice to hear from you. I hope you’re doing well. A lot’s been happening in my life, good and bad. What about you? If you’re blogging about it, I obviously need to come read about it. Forgive me for not having done so recently. My online presence has been limited lately. Long story. Cheers!
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