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The Soldier

Autor: Neal Asher
Sprecher: Peter Noble
Serie: Rise of the Jain, Titel 1
Spieldauer: 16 Std. und 21 Min.
5 out of 5 stars (10 Bewertungen)

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Inhaltsangabe

Her mission is vital. Her failure is unthinkable. 

A hidden corner of space is swarming with lethal alien technology, a danger to all sentient life. It's guarded by Orlandine, who must keep it contained at any cost - as it has the power to destroy entire civilizations. She schemes from her state-of-the-art weapons station, with only an alien intelligence to share her vigil. But she doesn't share everything with Dragon.... 

Orlandine is hatching a plan to obliterate this technology, removing its threat forever. For some will do anything to exploit this ancient weaponry, created by a long-dead race called the Jain. This includes activating a Jain supersoldier, which may breach even Orlandine's defences. 

Meanwhile, humanity and the alien prador empire keep a careful watch over this sector of space, as neither can allow the other to claim its power. However, things are about to change. The Jain might not be as dead as they seemed - and interstellar war is just a heartbeat away. 

The Soldier is the first novel in the Rise of the Jain series by best-selling science fiction author Neal Asher. 

©2018 Neal Asher (P)2018 Macmillan Digital Audio

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Brillant Story, brillant reading

Honestly, it's quite hard to write about something stunning. Granted, I do like Neal Ashers stories, a lot. Adding Peter Noble's unique reading - it's utterly brillant, a perfect pairing of Asher's exceptional writing and Noble's astonishing capabilities in reading.
Well, now, haven't written much about the story, did I? Meet some characters you already know - Dragon, for one. Meet some you don't - the Client, the last of it's species; or Orlandine, watching the Jain artifacts. And none is neither good nor bad. It's, well, complicated. Until you're Neal Asher, and everything becomes very, very fascinating.
The Polity universe is a harsh one, humanity ruled by AI's, having won the war against the xenophobic Prador, who routinely commited genocide. See, there's an easy setting - Humans good, Aliens bad. Unless, it isn't. Because, once upon a time there were the Jain who somehow just vanished 5 million years ago. Which is ok for everyone, because otherwise none of the acting species would actually be there. Unless, they didn't vanish completely. And this may become a major problem for anyone keen on living. Incidentally, those are all players involved.
It probably helps to have read the previously published Polity stories,. Not all of them, but some. The universe, as described by Asher, is definitely not a bright, shining utopia. It's sometimes darker than you would have imagined, and then some. Right and Wrong are very volatile concepts, depending on the characters' point of view. Utterly fascinating.

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Requires context to fully enjoy

Asher always does his best to make his books understandable without having read any previous entries, but I highly recommend to read at least the Agent Cormac series (the first being Gridlinked) before starting with this new one. Anyone starting with this book will completely miss all the intricate and well thought-out ways in which the many species and established characters interact with each other, and I can only assume some will be either overwhelmed or become bored with all the "silly alien stuff" thrown at them all at once. In The Soldier, Asher also begins to unravel the origins of the Jain, which becomes the book's greatest strength and weakness simultaneously. The Jain were built up to be an almost god-like entity, and yet here they are given a face. Asher produces a compelling backstory, but at the same time demystifies one of his most fascinating creations, which leaves me with some disappointed expectations. The book is by no means sub-par for Asher's standards, but it suffers slightly from a very slow-burning middle section and in general benefits greatly from some familiarity with the established lore.