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Eve: The Burning Life [Hardcover]

Hjalti Danielsson
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 25 2010
The capsuleers are the immortal pilots that string together the vast Interglactic empire that makes up the universe of EVE. Remote from the mortal population they have come from they are cold and distant. They are needed but hated. Drem has reason to hate them - a capsuleer attack on the pirate space colony he worked in killed his family. Ralea hates them too. But her hatred is for herself as well. She worked as an agent for capsuleers acquiring missions for capsuleer agents and taking a cut from the profits. Missions that lead to countless people dying. Drem seeks revenge, Ralea, redemption. The key to their futures lies with the sisters of Eve, a philanthropic rescue organisation who span the known worlds. But how do you revenge yourself against an immortal? Where can you find redemption if you have killed thousands? Drem and Ralea will find that their quests are intertwined and that they will lead to an unexpected place. EVE: THE BURNING LIFE is a fast moving space opera: a tale of revenge and redemption that spans the Universe.

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About the Author

Hjalti Danielsson is CCP's lead narrative creator for the harsh universe of New Eden, the setting for CCP's flagship game, EVE Online. After years working as a Game Master he transitioned to CCP's creative writing team. Hjalti is the author of more than sixty short stories set in the EVE Online universe, along with various other works including plays and storytelling game fiction. In his spare time he reads as many books as he can and indulges in sports where he tends to get punched in the head.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1

“WE WILL EAT THE BODY and sanctify its blood, to let it be born again.”

The apartment felt sucked dry of air, replaced with a gaseous formaldehyde that put everything and everyone in stasis. The attendants had formed small clusters, the men standing and facing the floor in grim silence, the women sitting, crying, and comforting each other. It was a young man’s apartment, little more than a studio with a small bedroom off to the side. The door to that room was ajar.

Drem Valate, so numb of emotion he felt like a sleepwalker, went and hugged his grandmothers. Each of them had a necklace with a tiny golden vial, and each fingered hers incessantly. “We will consume him, dear,” they were saying in a shivering stammer. “We shall take him into our fold and make his blood our own.”

It was an old prayer of the Sani Sabik, spoken in hard times, and they murmured it like an endless litany: “We will eat the body and sanctify its blood, and we will consume him until he is gone, to let his soul rise again.” They did not cry, for they were too old and weary, but the words fell from their mouths in droplets.

Drem let them go and looked around the room, still avoiding the sight of that half-open door. It was dawn on the colony. People stayed away from the windows, as if the Red God might come and take them away, and through the glass Drem saw the first rays of the nearest sun glide their cold way over the colony dome.

He wondered momentarily if he should walk about and talk to everyone, but he knew it would merely delay the inevitable. He went over to the bedroom door, opened it, took a deep breath, and stepped through.

It was dark inside, and the air was even heavier. The curtains were closed. There was little decoration: some plants in sealed minidomes, and a couple of holoposters on the walls, cycling through images of space. In the corner stood an inconspicuous machine, dark and quiet, laced with all sorts of wires and tubes that had now been wound up in a loop and left to hang off one side. The sight of that machine felt even more like a death sentence, Drem thought, than the body lying on the bed. You died not when you expired but when your life was neatly packed away.

His brother had needed that machine. He hadn’t been tied to it; he merely plugged in twice a day for a few minutes and otherwise lived a relatively normal life. Drem had been helping him save up for a more mobile unit. It was just the two of them now; their parents had died years ago on a blood-harvesting excursion.

Drem, on reflection, supposed it was only him now.

He sat down on the edge of the bed and remained quite still for a long time, looking intently at the machine. His fingers, meanwhile, blindly found their way to the body of his brother. They held his heavy hands, stroked his cold, inert cheeks, and ran slowly through his lifeless hair.

Drem wanted to cry but couldn’t. He wanted to scream but couldn’t. He wanted to think of Leip alive, to imagine some course of events by which none of this was even a reality, but those thoughts were opaque and he was too numb to grasp them. Some part of him, he knew, had realized that everything had changed and had put up a rock-solid dam to stem the flood. There would be no proper grief until everything was over, until Leip had been bled and the rituals completed.

Drem sat there until he began to hear whispering at the door. He got up, kissed his brother’s forehead, and left the room, letting one of his grandmothers take his place. The light outside the windows felt preferable to the bleakness in the house—the presence of a dead body, in and of itself, did not bother Drem, but the immense and silent anguish he saw on everyone’s faces, and probably reflected in his own, was becoming unbearable. He headed out into the yard and took a long, cold breath of morning.

It was early enough that he could still see trails in the sky from the night’s shipping traffic. The entire colony was attached to a moon in wide orbit around the sparsely colonized planet below, and functioned both as a delivery port for arriving interstellar shipments and, to a lesser degree, an assembling plant for various pieces of technology sent up from the planet and bound for somewhere else in dark space. Drem had been raised in another section of the colony, one located nearer to the outlying landing base, and had grown used to the silent tremors of starships taking off in the dark. In wintertime, he and Leip had sometimes sat by the window long after they should’ve been in bed, watching the bulging columns of smoke as the daily shipments of raw materials were readied to be flown back planetside. Drem and Leip would look at each other, grinning, then in unison place their hands on the windowsill, palms flattened. A few seconds later the soundless vibration from the launch would hit, traveling from the airless landing strip, through the metal of the colony and the stone of its mother asteroid, through the atmospheric shield and the ground beyond, up the walls of the nearest houses and into the bones of their hands, the boys giggling like mad.

Drem rubbed his eyes and realized he was crying.

Someone approached and softly cleared his throat. Drem looked up and saw a middle-aged man, gray of beard and hair, dressed in the familiar red-and-black garb of the Bleeders. They were the combination law-enforcement and religious sectarians of the Sani Sabik. If you ever needed either a priest or a policeman, you’d find a Bleeder. They acted over any religious gathering, from midwives to funeral directors, and it was an old joke that you literally had a Bleeder watching over you from the moment you were born until the last breath of your life.

“Hi, Father,” Drem said, not bothering to wipe the tears from his face.

The Bleeder sat beside him on the grass. “Hello, son. I’m Brother Theus. I understand there’s been a loss in this house.” His lips were fixed in a tempered smile held in place by the many wrinkles on his face—a deep concern woven with experience. Drem didn’t dare assume how much of it was genuine and not merely the result of years of practice with the grieving, but he found it calming nonetheless and felt thankful toward the man.

“My brother,” Drem said. “Died in his sleep last night, apparently. He was . . . well, I don’t know.” He sighed and looked at the sky. “He’d been having some trouble, what with the sickness and all. But nothing that should’ve caused something like this.”

“Sickness?” Theus asked.

“Sabik’s Sepsis. It wasn’t severe, but it caused a whole damn headache of problems. Leip had a hemopurifier that he used twice a day, and it helped, but you can’t be sick the way he was and get out of it unscathed.” Drem’s ears caught up with his mouth. “Or get out at all, apparently,” he added with a sigh.

“It is always hard when a child leaves the family,” Theus said.

“Oh no, he was an adult. Not old, but in his twenties,” Drem told him.

“Your brother had permanent blood poisoning?” the priest said to him. It was barely a question and verged on judgment. The worry wrinkles on the old man’s face increased, but Drem now found them less comforting.

“Is there a problem?” he asked the priest.

“I must go inside, my son, and see the family. Are you the closest living relative to the deceased?”

“Yes, Father. I am.”

“Then we will need to talk.”

THE NEXT DAY, Drem, with head full of thunder, went to his grandmother’s house to meet the family for the wake. People would be coming and going all day. They had a young man to bury, and, Drem had discovered, a terrible problem to solve.

The house smelled sweetly of spices and of flowers left to dry in the air. Derutala, known to the family as Granny Deru, had been baking and cooking all day, mostly, Drem suspected, out of a need for something to do. When he came in she was in the kitchen, busying herself with an oven that only she could use without burning its contents. Everything was made of steel and patience here, including Granny Deru.

Drem made his way into the living room. His cousin Vonus was there, standing by a shelf and inspecting the metal picture frames. Vonus’s wife sat in a chair beside him, cradling their infant child. They were only a few years older than Drem and still building a life. At the other end of the room stood another man whom Drem had seldom seen and had not been expecting: Dakren, his father’s brother, a much older man with gray hair and gray eyes.

The infant gurgled happily, and Drem smiled at it. Its mother smiled back at him but with deep furrows of worry in her brows.

Vonus said, “How are you doing, Drem?” in that low voice people reserve for the traumatized, as if sound waves might break them apart.

“I’ve had better days, thanks,” Drem said. “How ...

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars fastreader Aug. 31 2011
By fastreader TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A real thrill ride with action happening ALL THE time. Based on a video game but much like the Halo series a bunch of highly skilled writters have transferred the excitement of the game into book form. Highly entertaining
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2.0 out of 5 stars Great universe, ordinary story, subpar writing July 30 2011
Format:Paperback
I love the EVE Online universe, it is very rich, intricate and boundless. That is the only reason I managed to read the whole book. The story is extraordinary in itself, but in the EVE context, it is quite ordinary, the events are predictable, and the writing is subpar. I thoroughly loved the previous book, Empyrean Age, but it was by a different author, with a much better mastery of story telling.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story, poor production June 13 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
EVE Online universe is an excellent long-term game and the stories crafted for the site are amazing. The book likewise follows this vein of personal loss and achievement for an individual who loses all that he knows and seeks revenge for it. The only major issue that needs to be addressed by CCP's publisher choice for this, is the production quality. Already in less than a month, with very little usage, the front cover (full 100% paperback book) is peeling at the sides and creases without much provocation. Given this book was delayed several times for whatever reason, this isn't acceptable quality, even for the somewhat higher than average price for a paperback. Great read, poor production quality.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.1 out of 5 stars  31 reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not really about Eve... May 26 2010
By Mike - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
*spoilers ahead*

As an avid sci-fi reader and an off and on Eve player I was pretty excited about getting this book, but since starting it I've been really disappointed. I should also mention I've stopped reading this book about half way through, there's just no motivation left to finish. First and foremost, in EVE-Online you're a enhanced human plugged into a space ship taking part in deep space naval combat. It would be nice if that was what the book was about rather than Generic Person Number 234234 and an "Agent" who's sole purpose in the game is to feed you the same canned missions and briefings over and over again. Perhaps the star of the next book could be a custodian in an restaurant somewhere and a tree since they have about as much impact on the game. Of course, they are part of the Eve-Universe, I'll grant that, but beyond their insignificance in general I just couldn't much care about them.

The first character, who's home colony is blown up, is part of the "Blood Raiders", a pirate faction of Eve who's back story is different but pretty much that of the Reapers from Firefly in terms of violence. Lots of torturing people to death and ickyness. "Blood Raiders" really says it all about them. It would have been interesting if the book had presented their 'other side', but no, its all about harvesting humans for them in the book as well. So when his home gets torched... I don't care. As for the Agent, aside from the page after page of descriptions of the inside of a space station (not all of which makes complete logical sense) its just the story of an overworked business person crashing out on drugs. There are a heck of a lot better written stories out there if that's what you want to read about. Her ethical dilemma is all fine and dandy, and perhaps even justified with her, but my lack of empathy on this gets back to not really caring about some space-born butchers getting killed such as the other main character's family, the fact that as an Eve player in the game world the reader would be one of the mass murders she bemoans (so I guess we're supposed to feel guilty?), and finally having just reread the first eve book before this one came out with its nearly planetary level genocide on several separate occasions, her whining just feels like that. Whining.

Maybe I was being overly optimistic, but when you pick up a science fiction book set in a space combat game universe with a battleship and an explosion on the cover, you maybe expect a bit more action than a paragraph about orbital bombardment and a single frigate attacking a battleship with predictable results (that entire part by the way was so contrived, nonsensical and poorly written both in terms of a story and in terms of blatantly breaking from how eve game play works it was depressing) in the first hundred pages. Maybe the book picks up in the second half but then good god Mr. Danielsson, learn some pacing.

All in all, I'd rate this a Uwe Boll movie in book form.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Wow! . . . and not in a good way . . . April 13 2010
By rjs - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I must preface this review by saying that I AM familiar with EVE Online and am fascinated by both the game and the fiction that the game has spawned. Both have demonstrated tremendous potential for depth; I have read excellent player fiction posted in the form of blogs and player run fiction sites, aside from CCP-produced fiction. I also must say that I generally have a policy of not writing a review of fiction . . . after all, it is so easy to critique someone else's work, but the reality remains that they are published . . . and I am not.

However . . . this piece of work was so less than satisfying, I feel that a caveat emptor is in order.

This book was a huge disappointment. Extremely loose plot, no theme, superficial characters and forced dialogue.

I will not go into great detail (just in case someone wants to buy the book), but the story deals with the protagonist who after an attack and loss, decides that vengeance is the only option left to him. In the meantime, another minor character, who is on a path of self-destruction, commits a crime and goes on the run. Of course, the two stories intersect towards the end, because of course, they need each other in order for the protagonist's plan to come to fruition. The lesson in the end is that . . . actually, I'm not sure what the lesson was. But that's okay; I don't have to have a moral to the story, as long as it's an entertaining read, which this was not. Boring.

The dialogue was no better. The conversations between characters read almost like a screenplay from a tween drama . . . quite fake and forced. The attempts to elicit emotion from the exchanges between characters did not work, probably because you don't get to know who these people really are. It seemed to me that what was more important to the author was focusing on the various factions in the EVE Universe as opposed to showing us who these people really were and what the reasons were for their actions.

The technique in writing was also a major disappointment. The following is a brief demonstration of the kind of words and terms that are found to be used multiple times every couple of pages: "entirely", "stock-still", "volumetric displays", something being 'half-this' and/or 'half-that', "proper" and "clearly". As I progressed through the novel, I became exasperated whenever I came across one of the foregoing terms; they were used so much throughout the story. The story was full of awkward word choice, word usages, and strange and excessive use of profanity. It made me wonder if the author would have been better off writing the book in his native tongue and then having it translated into English. This feature was one of the most distracting of the book, and took my focus away from the story.

The penultimate chapter began the book's hasty wrap-up and conclusion. The mental somersaults required to accept the conclusion was too much for me to accept, and it simply did not work.

My conclusion is that this book is - unfortunately - a dud. I found the writing to be tedious and horrendous. And forget about it if you have no clue what EVE Online is; you will be completely lost. I find that, in comparison to the first book - The Empyrean Age - this book is a huge disappointment, both for science fiction fans and fans of EVE Online fiction. This book cannot be classified as serious science fiction and it is most certainly not high-quality EVE Online fiction. I would say that it fits more into the category of middle-grade fiction; however, due to the frequent (and awkward!) use of profanity, I'm not sure that parents would want their 8-12 year olds reading this book. I would not recommend this book for purchase for these reasons. There are far superior works out there in cyberspace that are free, for example Kalin Ringkvist's "Against A Rock".

I apologize to the author for this scathing review, but I hope this review has been helpful to any thinking of buying and reading this book.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Worthy of a free PDF included with the game, not $10 June 13 2010
By Scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Eve: The Burning Life ended up reading more like an introduction to the non-player side and world of Eve-Online the online game. While there was a chapter or two that was of interest to learn more about the world of Eve, even to a old player like myself the overall quality and story of this "book" was lacking, I personally didn't feel it'd justify the price of a $5 paperback, and would have felt it been better if the makers of Eve-Online included it as a free PDF for everyone that bought a copy of the game. It really didn't read like an intro to any video game, just one that was spread over several hundred pages.

This is contrary to the better work done on Empyrean Age, which I felt was a much better and interesting book. I'd recommend searching that one out instead if you're looking for some Eve related material and a quality book.

You won't find it here.
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book! May 22 2014
By Marcos Irizarry - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
So great to read a book set in the EVE universe. Its a great game and a great read. Well worth the money.
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than expected. Dec 28 2013
By ZaphodHarkonnen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
After dropping the previous book for being too cliche and pointlessly dramatic I wasn't expecting much from this one.

However I was pleasantly surprised by the characters and pacing. Solid read, nothing earth shattering, but fun.
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