Saturday, June 8, 2013

eBook Review: Oath of Fealty

Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle, Oath of Fealty

Product Details from Baen's Books
Published 1/1/2008
SKU: 1416555161
Ebook Price: $6.99

1. Short review:  (Amazon rating: 4 out of 5 stars -- I like it.)
2. Long review:
2.1. What I liked: A decent story wrapped around a great idea. Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle write well.
Roller-coaster or walk-in-the-park? Sometimes a coaster, sometimes a walk.
Worth the money.

2.2. What I did not like: The lack of a central character to identify with. Instead we get hero-by-committee. The top brass of Todos Santos -- Tony Rand, Barbara Churchward, and Arthur Bonner -- are one character in multiple bodies.

2.3. Who I think is the audience: Science fiction fans.

2.4. Is the book appropriate for children to read?  Yes.

2.5. On the basis of reading this book, will I buy the author's next book? Yes.

2.6. The plot in a nutshell.

     Todos Santos is central to the plot. Todos Santos is an arcology, a cube a mile on a side, constructed on part of Los Angeles burned out in a riot. Todos Santos provides quarters, entertainment, work, and security to its residents.
     Todos Santos has enemies: FROMATE -- FRiends Of Man And The Earth. Oath of Fealty begins with a team of three FROMATEs carrying a box marked BOMB as they infiltrate Todos Santos. Preston Sanders orders them stopped. Security captures one and kills the other two. The box marked BOMB is filled with sand. The LA authorities are not amused. One of the dead kids is the son of an LA councilman.
     Sanders surrenders to the LAPD. Goes to jail. Tony Rand, Barbara Churchward, and Arthur Bonner -- the Triumvirate -- 1) market the arcology concept to a Canadian concern, 2) continue to run Todos Santos, and 3) plot to break Sanders out of jail.
     The Canadians sign on. Todos Santos continues to run. The Triumvirate breaks Sanders out of jail in an inventive fashion.
     Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the FROMATES infiltrate Todos Santos again. The bomb this team carries is real. Todos Santos Security kills them.
     Sanders leaves for a position with one of the company's projects in Africa. Rand goes to Canada. The LA councilman takes vengeance on the local head of FROMATE. Todos Santos continues. 

2.7. Other:
    This is an idea story. The idea is the arcology: Todos Santos. Waldos. Computer implants. Moving sidewalks. Safety and security -- Todos Santos -- in the midst of crime and chaos -- Los Angeles. For the residents, Todos Santos is a bit of Heaven in the midst of Hell.
    The fact that Oath of Fealty is an idea story accounts for why the Triumvirate are just one character. One is interchangeable with either of the other two. The only way to tell them apart in conversation is by the attribution tags.
    It is an interesting idea. Would you prefer to live in Todos Santos? Or LA?

2.8. Links:
Larry Niven 
Jerry Pournelle
Jerry Pournelle's Chaos Manor

2.9. Buy the book: Oath of Fealty

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