Partial Review: Empire from the Ashes (Book 1 of 3 Read in Omnibus)

Empire From the Ashes - David Weber

Empire from the Ashes is an omnibus containing the three full-length books in a trilogy, so it’s rather long. I’m reading an e-book without page numbers, but the book page (here and elsewhere) claims the omnibus is only 784 pages long.  I’m skeptical because the page numbers for the individual books add up to about 1200 and, based on my rate of progress on my Kindle, that seems about right. Maybe the omnibus was printed on really big paper. :) Or maybe I'm just reading slower than usual. In any case, since I’m not exactly overflowing with spare time for reading, I thought I’d post an update after I finish each individual book so nobody wonders if I’ve fallen off the face of the earth.


The first book in the omnibus is Mutineer’s Moon which I just finished. There are some aspects of the premise that seemed preposterous to me, but I was mostly able to overlook them because I enjoyed the over-all story and the characters. The story takes place during 21st century Earth. It’s hard to summarize this plot in a few words, especially without giving too much away. So I’ll just confine it to some of the things we learn at the very beginning that set the stage.


It turns out that our moon isn’t really a moon at all, but rather a cleverly disguised and very, very, very large spaceship. (This would be one of the aforementioned preposterous aspects.) Our main character, Colin, is on the brink of discovering this fact and so the sentient computer that controls the spaceship, Dahak, brings Colin on board. This ship has no crew whatsoever, unless you count Dahak himself, due to a mutiny that took place many centuries ago. Dahak is quite desperate for a captain, because there are serious problems weighing on his mind that he’s powerless to address. So Dahak takes the liberty of faking Colin’s death and conscripting him to be the captain of the ship.


This isn’t quite as ridiculous as it sounds. There’s logical reasoning behind Dahak’s actions and, once Colin knows the full story, he goes along with it willingly due to the high stakes involved. It does, however, stretch credulity that Dahak was lucky enough for the person who stumbled upon him to actually be capable of rising to the challenge.  The main part of the story has Colin going back to Earth to carry out a mission. From that point, the story is primarily a military science fiction story with a mixture of advanced technology and more typical 21st century technology.


The story was an interesting sort of “what if” story. It had its flaws, but it was interesting enough that I was willing to overlook them. The story caught my interest right away, and I liked several of the characters -- one of which was killed off right after I decided I liked him. The story got a little dry in my opinion during some of the longer, drawn-out battle scenes. There were times when I had trouble visualizing exactly what was happening based on the author’s descriptions of the action. I also thought the villains of the story were a little too over-the-top. It they’d had mustaches, I’m sure they would have been twirled regularly.   I also wanted the villains to be fleshed out more because I never really felt like I understood the motivations or goals of the main villains, at least in terms of what started the whole thing.


I did feel like the “good guys” were pretty well fleshed out, though, and I liked several of them. I really liked Dahak and wanted to see more of him, but Colin was on Earth and cut off from him for most of the story so we really only got to know him in the first few chapters. When they were together, they had some amusing and interesting dialogue. I expect and hope there will be much more of Dahak in the second book.


I’m going to wait and rate the book after I’ve read the whole omnibus. If I had to rate it now, I’d be torn between 3.5 and 4 stars. The flaws ought to put it at 3.5, but the fun factor makes me want to give it a 4.