Thursday, December 07, 2006

Star of the Guardians

A short while ago, SQT asked if we wanted to see anything reviewed here and I left a comment saying that I wanted to see the Star of the Guardians series reviewed. SQT answered that she never read it and invited me to write one myself. So here we are. The Star of the Guardians is a series of four books (originally a trilogy, then fourth was written to continue/wrap up the storyline) written by Margaret Weis. It’s very epic in scope and Weis calls upon a wide variety of sources for its inspiration and themes. Derek Sagan is a warlord of the republic. He is a Blood Royal, a genetically engineered member of a group of warriors called Guardians. Prior to the events of the book, Sagan turned against his fellow Guardians and the king of the galaxy and helped establish the current ruler, President Peter Robes. Maigrey Morianna, also a Guardian and his lover, has been hiding since. Seventeen-year-old Dion Starfire is the next in line for the crown, but doesn’t know it as he’s been raised in hiding all these years. Along the way they meet General John Dixter, Tusk, Mag Force 7 (who would go on to their own trilogy of books), Bear Olefsky, and many others. Thrown into the mix is the Corasians, an energy-based hive-minded alien species looking to enslave humans, the Order of Dark Lightning, a little political intrigue and backstabbing, and a space-rotation bomb, a super weapon that might save everyone from the alien invaders. As I said earlier, the story is very epic, Sagan is established early as villain, but he is much more complicated. He was trying to do what was right and is now haunted by his actions. He is also a devout Christian and was raised in a monastery. He and Maigrey are lovers and share a link, and of course their relationship is also complex. She has to resolve loving a man who’s done what he’s done and he has to beseech the forgiveness of a woman who he considers a traitor. Through the series, Dion Starfire also grows from some kid on a backwater planet, to a media sensation, to the rightful ruler of the galaxy. In the fourth book, he is married to a woman he doesn’t love and is having an affair with the woman he does love. I don’t recall anything really explicit in the story, but I would say that it’s still not sci-fi for the kiddies. One of the gadgets that the Guardians get to use is the bloodswords. Bloodswords are energy blades that inject a virus into the user through five needles. The energy blade draws on the user’s own power and will painfully kill any non-Guardian who would try to use it. Yes, the bloodswords are an awful lot like a Jedi’s lightsaber, but I think Weis strove to make the weapons distinctive. I grew up in an age where just about every science fiction character got some sort of energy sword – even Robin on the Super Friends carried one around a few times – so I can appreciate a uniqueness that Weis endeavored to develop in these weapons. Margaret Weis throws a lot into these stories. She alludes to myths, history, and even the music of Fleetwood Mac. Don’t ask me where that is though, I never caught it. The Star of the Guardians website is filled with information on character names, historical and mythological guides, and all sorts of other trivia. I recommend that you check it out, though I recommend that you read the books first.


SQT said...

Thanks for the review Jon, it sounds really good. I used to read tons of Weis/Hickman, but I don't have much that was written by Weis by herself.

One thing I wonder, are these books as grim as some of the other one's tend to be?

I always liked their books, but sometimes I felt they had a pessimistic tone to them. But I haven't read any in so many years my recollection may not be accurate.

Anyway, I also looked the books up on Amazon and you can pick them up for $.01 + shipping (usually ends up at around $3.50) used. I'm going to check the local used book store (I live for deals) first, but if I don't find them I'm going to order them online and check the out.

Crunchy Carpets said...

I don't think I have read any of her stuff...seen it all over the bookstore though!

Alex said...

I never liked Weis much. Her books are a little too, oh, I don't know... histrionic. Maybe it's the "show me don't tell me" dilemma: too much of people's feelings are illustrated through exposition, rather than through scene building.

Or maybe it's purely a matter of taste. I know her Dragonlance books (with Hickman) always reminded me of a really bad Monty Hall campaign played with the guys who gathered at your next door neighbor's house - you know, the one who's, like, 40 and still lives with his mom.

Additionally, I'm not a fan of Hickman at all. The guy is completely illiterate (check his personal website out, if you don't believe me).

If you're in for that sword and sorcery stuff, I would stick with a Salvatore or a Jordan. Neither are going to write the great American novel, but they are solid authors (well, Jordan's Wheel of Time series should have been killed about four novels ago, but still).

SQT said...

I liked the Dragonlance books when I read them, but it's been at least 15 years, so it's a hazy recollection.

I might read them again just to see what I think after all this time.

Books are so tough though. It's such an individual thing. I know people who just rave about certain authors and I don't get it. And books I worship get shrugs from other people.

But I say in my profile, I am not a literary snob and I stand by that. If one person loves it then it has value IMO.

Asara Dragoness said...

Hehe, I love Weis & Hickman. It may just come from the fact that the Dragonlance Chronicles birthed me into the world of fantasy, but I just adore that series. And the Death Gate cycle as well. I'm not much for pure sci-fi, but I might give these a try, just to see how she does on her own. We've got a used book store down the street from us that I have trade credit at (half off books, yea!), I might stop by there this weekend and see what they've got. Thanks for the review!

DesLily said...

I just finished a book by Weis and Hickman.. love Dragonlance ..and the original characters with Raistlin and Caramon and Tanis half elf etc...

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

These didn't seem too pessimistic to me, they were more swashbuckley in nature, especially the Mag Force 7 series. There are some tragic elements, though.

And I have to admit that I haven't read any books from Weis other than these 7. I have just never really gotten into reading fantasy.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

It's not a sseries I've heard of before.

SQT said...

I wasn't familiar with the series either. I tend to read fantasy more than sci-fi, but every once in awhile I'll find a sci-fi series I really like.

Anne McCaffrey has done an incredible job of fusing fantasy elements with sci-fi, I highly recommend her books.

But this series does sound good to me. And since I have read and liked Weis in the past, I am willing to give it a try.

Another good sci-fi writer IMO is David Webber.

Alex said...

Asara got me again. I have to admit that I did enjoy the Death Gate Cycle.

Shame on me.

But, still. Terry Pratchett's Discworld books are so much better than anything Weis or Hickman has done in the fantasy world (I've read their Darksword, Dragonlance - except for the series where the children of the heroes come in, and Deathgate Cycle). I can't imagine people not preferring him.

But I have odd taste.