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Old April 21 2012, 03:37 PM   #7
Fleet Captain
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Location: Berlin, Germany
Re: Vanguard: Summon the Thunder Review Thread

This review has been a long time coming as I finished Summon the Thunder several weeks ago already, sorry . It also won't be as long as my Harbinger review, mostly because I find it a bit harder to pin down my thoughts about this one.

See, the thing is - it's not like I didn't like it. Indeed I liked many things about it, various individual scenes and character moments (and I'll mention some of them below). But the pacing's a bit off - especially the first half feels rather meandering - and so it didn't grip me in the same way that Harbinger managed to do thanks to its very economic structure of pivoting everything around the destruction of the Bombay in some way.

OTOH, at other times I found myself thinking that the very even, plodding sort of plot progression combined with a lot of jumping between the different, parallel story threads certainly made it feel appropriately broad and TV show-y (like watching a string of episodes of a serial drama), so I'm not sure it's really such a bad thing. Varying the tone of the books within the series a bit probably helps keep things fresh, too.

Now, in terms of strengths, one thing Thunder definitely did well at was making me much more interested in some of the characters I didn't connect with during Harbinger, especially Reyes. While Reyes continues to be difficult to peg in the end, in the first book it was mostly a lack of information that left him rather faceless, while Thunder made him into a fascinating, mercurial commanding officer who is equally tormented by demons and bristling with resolve. Seeming to lack a strong "Captain" character made me a bit uneasy about Vanguard in the beginning, but now Reyes might well be right up there.

I also liked the Endeavour bits quite a bit, especially Klisiewicz's POV chapter(s?) on the bridge and the mess hall scene with McCormack. And I found it oddly satisfying when the book made more of Khatami's self-doubt at her new command position than just the cliché of having everybody pat her on the back and reassure her: There are indeed those among the crew who would doubt and critizie her judgement, which is only natural, and made the situation feel that much more realistic.

Not enough Pennington for my tastes, but I'll live .

Those last few chapters certainly did pick up pace, though (plus I always appreciate more Jetanien), and make for an interesting lead-up to Reap the Whirlwind, a review thread for which I'm planning to open pretty soon.

Verdict: Average.
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