The Duke of Uranium Mass Market Paperback – Sep 1 2002
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Barnes' latest is a wildly entertaining homage to the best '60s Heinlein juveniles, an amiable, slangy adventure for the teenager in everyone. Good-looking, athletic Jak Jinnaka, 18, has survived compulsory education with the help of his pretty girlfriend, Sesh, and a generous allowance from Uncle Sib. After Sesh is kidnapped, Uncle Sib explains a few things. Sesh is really the princess of the powerful distant planet Greenworld. Sib is a senior agent of a political cabal, or zybot, planning to rescue and then, possibly, exploit her. Promising Jak will meet no harm, Sib invites him to be an emissary to Sesh's captors. On the long trip to the Duchy of Uranium, Jak befriends a few members of a trading starship's crew, survives his shuttle being shot out of the sky, befriends the duchy's imprisoned heir, and discovers additional details of Sib's career that make joining Sib's particular political group something he should consider very, very carefully. Lots of action, dancing, interesting clothes, hints of sex, and a lovable, laid-back hero. Roberta Johnson
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From the Inside Flap
The acclaimed author of A Million Open Doors and Mother of Storms, John Barnes presents THE DUKE OF URANIUM, a fast-paced new adventure in the spirit of Harry Harrison and Robert A. Heinlein. In this spectacular tale of action and intrigue, a thirty-sixth century young man discovers that the solar system is far more complex, and deadly, than he'd ever imagined .... on the bad side of entropy.
For eighteen-year-old Jak Jinnaka, life in the Hive space colony is a simple routine of schoolwork and partying. But his world irrevocably turns topsy-turvy one night when strangers viciously attack Jak and kidnap his girlfriend, Sesh. Then Jak learns that Sesh is really a princess from a distant world and that his Uncle Sib is actually a spymaster who is running a covert cabal vying to control the solar system. Adding to his shock, Jak comes to the startling realization that he has been groomed since birth to become a secret agent. And his first assignment is to ransom Sesh from her captor, the mysterious Duke of Uranium. Yet the one truth nobody tells Jak is that the thirty-sixth century itself is based on lies, where no one and nothing are as they seem. And the only way for Jak to make sure his maiden mission is not his last is to discover what his true mission really is!
Top Customer Reviews
"heet" from the Japanese "hito" (person). There are a few more, but again, the meanings soon become clear from the contexts.
This series is not John Barnes' best work, but this book was interesting and enjoyable enough to entice me to read "A Princess of the Aerie," which I would give about 4 1/3 stars and "In the Hall of the Martian King," which I would rate at about 4 7/8 stars.
I am definitely looking forward to Jak's next adventure.
In this novel, Jak is taking his last required class in gen school, bored out of his mind as usual. When the period ends, he and his tove, Dujuv, pre-order their habitual fare at the Old China Cafe and claim a private booth when they arrive so that they can check their admission scores for the Public Service Academy. Jak misses the cutoff for his genetic type by 65 points and Dujuv misses by 11 points. Neither one is likely to be attending PSA. On to the contingency plans; Jak intends to join the Army and Dujuv decides to become a professional slamball player.
Soon thereafter, their demmies join them, having accessed the databank after the boys reading their scores removed the privacy flags; Sesh says hello to Jak, but Myxenna plasters Dujuv against the backwall with a kiss. When Dujuv is allowed to come up for air, Myx states that she has made the cut, but Sesh says that she also missed the cutoff. When the boys tell them about their career ideas, Sesh surprises them by saying she is going to be a Social Parasite and just live off her family's money.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The Duke of Uranium starts as all coming of age novels. Jak Jinnaka just finished high school and is wondering what next… But the story very soon stops following the usual plotline because ka-boom Jak’s girlfriend is kidnapped and he is in the middle of the interplanetary conspiracy. It’s never boring with a lot of chasing and fighting and unexpected attacks. The plot is similar to old James Bond movies. There is even a requisite number of sexy female characters on the way who are seduced by Jak’s charm.
I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I was a boy, this way some situation made me read with a sarcastic eyebrow raised. For example, a girl who get her shirt torn away and then loses her skirt in escape so she is running in only her panties and high heels. Yeah right. :/
Another thing that might or might not work for you is the amount of information we get about the world. Some customs that are fundamental in society and culture are not explained because Jak as narrator assumes we are already familiar with them. Some other terms, new and interesting to him, get descriptions a couple of pages long. It definitely adds up to the realism of the narration, but can be sometimes frustrating when you have to guess what something is.
IN THE END…
Lovers of young adult thrillers with male lead character should definitely take a closer look at Jak Jinnaka‘s series. Instead of action adventures by Clive Cussler or Ian Fleming, John Barnes offers them hero of their age in similar situation and it’s all set in a futuristic, exciting setting.
Disclaimer: I was given a free eBook by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.
But that ends abruptly the day his girlfriend, Sesh, is kidnapped. He’s beaten senseless and discovers the world is nothing like he thought it was.
It’s a brand new reality. The beautiful, free-wheeling party girl Sesh is Princess Shyf of Greenworld, heiress and only daughter of the rulers of a powerful kingdom. Jak’s Uncle Sib is not merely the kindly old guy who controls the family money, but a legendary spymaster. Now, it appears Jak is about to enter the family business with no training or time to think about possible repercussions.
It’s the first book in a new series obviously aimed at a teen audience. As was Harry Potter, so I didn’t consider its youthful skew an obstacle to enjoyment. I did sometimes find it a bit young for me … but I also found it witty and frequently laugh-out-loud funny. Barnes’ observations on society and culture is razor-sharp.
The characters are fun and interesting. They grow and change, something I always appreciate in a book. This was promoted as being along the lines of Heinlein’s young adult literature, but Barnes writes nothing like Heinlein. I like Heinlein — that’s not true. I love Heinlein. But I like Barnes too. You don’t need to lure me with promises of “another Heinlein.” I don’t need the incentive. I’d read it anyhow.
The book takes a long time to catch fire. Barnes has created a world and needs to explain it. I’d prefer he showed us more and told us less because the book plods for the first half. After that, it takes off and steps out lively.
Not only has Barnes invented a world, but he’s invented a language. It uses a lot of words that are sort of English, but not really. We’re supposed to figure out what they mean by context and mostly, I did. Eventually. It would have been easier if he had included a short glossary or footnoted the words or … just used English. I don’t think the unfamiliarity of the language added anything but confusion.
That being said, I enjoyed the book. It dragged in the beginning, but the end was fast with plenty of action. Predictable? I didn’t think it was all that predictable … no more than any other book of this type I’ve read. It has a lot of potential as a series and I’ll be interested to see where Barnes takes it.
Barnes constructs his backstory with some care -- he's used it in three Jak Jinnaka novels so far, with more planned. By the thirty-sixth century, humankind has spread throughout the solar system. We survived an attempted genocide by the alien, retaliated by sterilizing their homeworld, and have settled into an uneasy coexistence with refugees occupying the Pluto and beyond.
Even in the 36th century, when "Duke" is set, fusion power has never been developed, so the Outer System still runs on fission, a rather charmingly retro touch.
The battered Earth has recovered, and shares power with two huge orbital stations at L4 and L5 -- the unified Hive, and the balkanized Aerie. The inner system runs on solar power, and the outer on good, old-fashioned uranium reactors (hence the title).. Interworld transport is by large light-sail liners....
As expected, the novel ends happily and with a moral: video games are a fine training-ground for apprentice heroes!
The Duke is the most fun I've had between book covers in awhile. Barnes has written a fast-moving book, and if some of the plotting doesn't stand up to close inspection, you won't care. Recommended for hours of frivolous relaxation.
Peter D. Tillman