Endurance by S. L. Viehl

This is Stardoc book 3 (I seem to be on a space opera kick), and this time Cherijo Veil is under the control of slavers. As she usually does, Cherijo uses her skills as a surgeon to help everyone that needs medical attention, saving many lives and often making life harder for herself to do so.

I don't think this review is spoilerific but may allude to things that could be spoilers. So if you want to know NOTHING, don't keep reading, my vox doesn't have LJ cuts.


{possible spoilers below}

Cherijo's mental state seems different from books 1 and 2 – she believes she was betrayed, and this makes her very very grouchy throughout the book (at least to me). There was a fine line between defiance and stupidity and sometimes Cherijo crosses it, needlessly provoking the prison guards and not allowing people to protect her. Sometimes this was frustrating to read. Cherijo also the reason the people around her are enslaved, but she feels as if she's even with them for what they did. I think most of them didn't have much choice, so I thought Cherijo was seeing things a little bit too black and white. Of course, others see things in a similar black and white way and want Cherijo dead for what has happened. Cherijo does manage to convert some people but not others. The usual addictive high action drama occurs.

This was a overall an OK read for me, but I preferred book 1 out of all these so far and book 3 the least. The second half of the book was better than the first, but I don't understand why her friend Alunthri was added to the story. His being there seemed very forced in order to make Cherijo even angrier about her betrayal. I think her attitude of bullheaded defiance throughout the book, not really trusting or looking at things from other people's points of view was beginning to wear thin on me. Basically because she's brilliant she is always right (ha) - often naturally taking the role of a leader and hard to sway once her mind is made. It is even harder for others to get her to do what they say just to keep her alive. They are forced to great lengths to save her. I'd like to see how much her attitude changes in book 4. I hope she learns some lessons about trust instead of dragging out a tense situation. Meanwhile, one of the best parts of the book was when Cherijo goes deep into her subconscious, I think this is part of a much larger, very interesting story arc which I'd like to read more about. Another good thing in this book which is something it has in common with others – is the humanizing of the "bad guys" – not everyone is put into a tidy slot and there are facets to their personality – some of the slavers are terrible, while others turn out to be very honorable.

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Beyond Varallan by S. L. Viehl

I'm not sure if my mind is all here today. We got back to New York last night and the cat was so happy (after first crying loudly in a long accusatory manner), that he kept me up all night with his loud purring to himself. I am NOT exaggerating when I say I had about an hour of sleep. And I couldn't kick him out of the room when he'd been left alone for 2.5 weeks so I just let him be. Now you get to see me complain about it instead.

Anyway, the review for book 2 of the Stardoc series. I reviewed book 1, Stardoc, here. Without spoilage, the series is about Cherijo Grey Veil, a talented human surgeon fleeing the reach of her powerful father who has plans for her and wants her back with him. She travels away from her homeworld of Terra to other planets to escape but her father still keeps trying to get her, enlisting mercenaries and governments to help him and threatening her friends and allies. Meanwhile Cherijo makes friends, learns about other species, deals with complicated relationships, and saves lives with her medical expertise and brilliant mind. There are 7 books in this series out so far, and Viehl blogs that book 8, Omega Games comes out in August 2008 (that link has yet another link to an excerpt of book 8 which contains spoilers. I haven't read that except yet. Don't tell me anything if you do). She also blogs that she sees the series ending in 10 books and if she doesn't end up selling the 10th, final book she will probably put it up as an e-book.

In this book, Cherijo is on the Sunlace, a ship controlled by the Jorenians, who have adopted her into their family. Characters from book 1 are with Cherijo – Reever (whose intentions are always hard to deciper), as well as her friends Alunthri and Dhreen. Along with Cherijo's usual critical medical emergencies and trying to get along with other staff members who may not like her, there is a much bigger problem – a murderer on the ship who begins to target Cherijo in disturbing ways and this is the focus of most of the plot.

My thoughts (in lazy bullet form again):

  • I'm not very into this book's cover. No one looks like I think they look like (the coloring looks off from what I pictured when I read the book) except vaguely Cherijo. But you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, even though I do peer at them and think things to myself.
  • This is the second book where Cherijo has more than one man interested in her.. I would start to think Mary Sue except Cherijo's hardly perfect. Even though she's supposedly pretty and smart, she has a huge stubborn streak. In this book this stubborn streak was extreme – in some parts I felt it bordered on uh.. bitchy. I also understood the individual reasons each of them courted her – they both had a unique connection with Cherijo that they didn't have with anyone else. But since this is a series – the relationship stuff is going to evolve over several books. I think it's going to be complicated. Should be interesting. Not sure if I will scream by the end of it or if it will be fun to anticipate what's going to happen through the prolonged torture. We shall see.
  • This is also the second book where Cherijo has to deal with problems personality-wise with her coworkers. I thought it was still interesting that it resolved itself very differently from her problems in book 1.
  • You think you won't see certain characters ever again but then they pop back into the story in unexpected ways.
  • Even though this is science fiction, its not hard sci fi. I think I like the space opera, actiony, not very hard sci-fi stuff. If you don't like hard sci -fi, you may like this - there isn't jargon here that trips up the writing and makes it hard to get into. Viehl has a more straightforward writing style.
  • I don't know if I blogged about this or if I just commented about this, but so far in the three books I've read from Viehl I've started to expect a certain constantly good wrap-up to her books. She has a way of making things complicated and then writing herself out of the knots. It's very comforting that even though this is a series, it feels like each book has a relatively satisfying ending. I say that even though after book 2's ending and wrap-up there IS a setup for book 3 and a cliffhanger, but at least it's published already and you won't be waiting for months/years. It wasn't a life-death cliffhanger to make me climb walls but it was quite zing-y and made me look forward to book 3.
  • Verdict – quite a satisfying to read series. I'll be still reading them.

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Stardoc by S. L. Viehl

Stardoc (Stardoc #1)
S. L. Viehl

This is the second S. L. Viehl book I've read. The first one, Blade Dancer was reviewed here.

When I read Blade Dancer, I looked at the amazon reviews for it and noticed someone say that it was the same story as Stardoc. In a way they are very similar. In both stories there is a smart female heroine who isn't afraid to stand up for herself, that flees Earth (Terra), has a maniacal father who tries to control her, a dead mother with a last wish for her daughter, and spends a lot of time in the book working through trials to learn and prove herself in her chosen career. The general similarities are astonishing, but I still think these are very different stories and very different characters.

Cherijo Grey Veil is a brilliant Terran surgeon who discovers something about her father that causes her to run away and take an assignment at a free clinic light years away from his influence in Kevarzangia Two. Because of the racism of the Terrans and her sheltered life in Terra, Cherijo has never met many aliens before. Let alone treat them. So she endures many trials and tribulations learning about all the species of aliens that live in K2. She also endures hostility from coworkers and others. Meanwhile her father – a very rich, famous and extremely powerful man in Terra (with Machiavellian tendencies), wants her to come back home and is willing to use his influence to get her back any way he can.

Viehl has a very easy writing style, and the book is from the first person point of view of Cherijo, so the reader gets to learn about the alien species at the same time Cherijo does. I liked her character -  intelligent and professional, but also willing to argue her points and defend herself. Which is a good thing because she needs it. I thought this was just as enjoyable as Blade Dancer, though the excitement came in the form of Cherijo racing against time to save lives rather than fighting like Jory does. Slowly, patient by patient, through her own hard work she proves herself in the alien landscape and makes a lot of allies. Viehl does a good job in describing easy friendships and bonding. I think she just explains relationships well. Speaking of – there is some romance as Cherijo falls for an alien, but there is another possible love interest as well.

This is also the first book in a series, but the story felt self contained – no giant cliffhanger, thank goodness. And while this is a science fiction novel, it wasn't hard science fiction, which made it a fun, satisfying read for me. There were no difficult lessons, just a straight story about a young woman's fight for her independence. I think I've found an author who I can expect page-turning and fun science fiction from.

My general feeling - 8 (Really liked it) / Plot - 7.5 (Really liked it) / Writing style - 7 (Easy to get absorbed by)

By the way, if you liked this you will probably like Warchild by Karin Lowachee (OK that book was AMAZING, so if you DIDN'T like this book, but you like Ender's Game you will like Warchild).

TBR @ 99 (I stupidly keep getting books. Why do I even bother keeping count? Will it ever be at 50? I don't know).

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Blade Dancer by S. L. Viehl (part 2)

I forgot to rant about 2 nits that bugged me:

1) The cover! I didn't like it. The picture of the person on the cover does not look like how I pictured the character. The eyes on the cover are ALL white, even the irises. In the book she's supposed to have all green eyes, even where the whites should be.

2) On page 68 – Jakol has "Terran Causcasian skin". On page 290 and elsewhere near the end of the book, he's blue "a strong blue hand pushed back the obeck-la".. Did I miss somewhere when he turned blue?


I go now.

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Blade Dancer by S. L. Viehl

I'm feeling lazy but I'll write a review anyway. I want to go read another book actually.

This is the first S. L. Viehl book I've read, though I've been meaning to since the beginning of this year. I regularly read her blog which she updates almost every day (she's so organized, I don't know how she does that and writes sooo many books). Its an informatative blog about writing, books and other useful things to know, plus she often has contests on there.

Blade Dancer is set in the Stardoc universe but is not part of that series. The story is about a half alien (Jorenian), half human ("Terran") woman named Jory who is a champion shockball player. When her mother dies suddenly, Jory's secret – that shes not fully human, is discovered and she's kicked off the planet. The only reason Jory was sticking around anyway is for her mother, so now she's free to go back to her mother's homeplanet and carry out her mom's last wish – by seeking out the small group of half-breed Jorenians like herself to tell them something important about themselves. After that, she is planning to find and kill her father. Seeking revenge requires skill so Jory decides to train in blade dancing at a school for assassins in Tana.

Viehl is really good at making the reader feel annoyed at prejudices and injustices that the main character goes through – Jory is spit upon by so many people when it is discovered she's half alien – even after she was previously adored by many for her Shockball career – that her face drips with it. First: gross. Second: extreme no? I am still not quite sure WHY Terrans hate aliens so much, but Viehl mentions that they want to keep their race pure and that they have huge problems with uprooting the alien underground (was a whole planet is this prejudiced though? I'm not sure if it felt that way to Jory or if it actually was that way). Anyway, this stuff keeps happening. When she leaves Terra, she is disliked because she looks Terran, who are considered bigotted scum by many alien species. When she arrives in Joren, she is asked to leave by the head of her own Clan, and other Clans aren't friendly either. AND then after that, when she gets to Tana, she and her group are targeted by a bully at the school. All this makes Jory this very toughskinned character, who makes a lot of wry quips and does a lot of butt-kicking but also secretly cries into her pillow once or twice.

I started this book at 8pm last night and stay up till 1am to finish it. I don't know - it hit the spot! Its easy to read, and though sometimes gory with the fight scenes; rather satisfying. There was something a little predictable in it – a twist or two that I expected, a romance I expected, but I wanted to keep reading to make SURE it ended the way I expected, if that makes sense.  I loved the world-building: especially the training and how they moved from one level to the next. I also liked all the different kinds of aliens and their abilities and customs. The book was fast-paced – Jorry goes from one situation to another and has to keep herself and her friends safe and you want them all to come out ok, but there is death and grizzly things and cruelty to keep you a little worried. I have a soft heart. I can't take some characters I like dying.

My general feeling - 8.5 or 9 (Really liked it, made me stay up) / Plot - 7.5 (also really liked it, slightly predictable) / Writing style – 6.5 (liked it)

As you can see, I keep switching genres so I don't get bored.

Oh I am so going to start Stardoc soon.

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