5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding space action
Anyone who has an interest in good old fashioned rip-roaring space battles, who ever loved a story of a war between good and evil, who ever stared with fascination at movies of space aliens battling brave human spaceships will *love* this book. It's almost non-stop action, but intelligently told, with incredible space battles on an epic scale for enormous stakes. The...
Published on May 13 2004 by John D. Angus
3.0 out of 5 stars not the best
Weber & White like to make things explode. If you like lots of explosions, you'll like this book. If you like telegraphed plot turns (see page 459 for an absolutely classic example of Famous Last Words, just for one example) you'll like this book.
It'll do for light reading. People looking for serious work should look elsewhere.
Published on April 22 2004 by Charles P. Dyer
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Space Opera,
This review is from: IN DEATH GROUND (Mass Market Paperback)This book isn't going to win a Pulitzer, but that's not why most people would want to read it. This novel is about massive space battles with dozens of different ships and a wide variety of strategies and tactics that they employ. While the aliens are a stereotypical race of homicidal 'Bugs' used in a number of other sci-fi classics, their outright savagery and brutality has one siding with Humanity and its allies almost instantly.
The best thing about the novel is the suspense it creates. Unlike the sequel - in which the ending seems a foregone conclusion - In Death Ground shows humanity and its allies on the ropes, struggling against massive odds to beat back a threat that is determined to annihilate all intelligent life in the galaxy.
A good, quick read for lovers of action.
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding space action,
This review is from: IN DEATH GROUND (Mass Market Paperback)Anyone who has an interest in good old fashioned rip-roaring space battles, who ever loved a story of a war between good and evil, who ever stared with fascination at movies of space aliens battling brave human spaceships will *love* this book. It's almost non-stop action, but intelligently told, with incredible space battles on an epic scale for enormous stakes. The aliens are mysterious and unfathomable, and relentless, and you know from the start (as one of the characters says) it will be a battle to the death between them and humanity and its allies.
4.0 out of 5 stars Could be better,
This review is from: IN DEATH GROUND (Mass Market Paperback)OK lets get one thing straight. The evil aliens are formulaic instant parallels to Gamesworkshop's Tyranids, Heinlein's Bugs and the Buggers from Ender's Game (minus the character) and no doubt a whole host of other things besides. Also all of the other aliens (bar the Zarkoloyans in the second book) are humanoid animals.
On the other hand they are well realised and to counter this relative lack of imagination, the physics of the universe are innovative and rather cool, in particular the warp points lead to excellent writing.
The characters are rarely well done, with the exception of Kthaara'zarthan and Ivan Nikolayevich who'se hatred of politics (and accompanying descriptive language) is a refreshing attitude.
The space combat however (and face it this is what you bought it for) is excellently done with real descriptions of what is going on, so rare in this genre (in my experience) well to the fore, in particular the Pesthouse battle near the end is brilliantly realised.
Get this book it'll bring you back for seconds. (but next book they must do one about ISW three because they always mention it but never tell you much.)
3.0 out of 5 stars not the best,
This review is from: IN DEATH GROUND (Mass Market Paperback)Weber & White like to make things explode. If you like lots of explosions, you'll like this book. If you like telegraphed plot turns (see page 459 for an absolutely classic example of Famous Last Words, just for one example) you'll like this book.
It'll do for light reading. People looking for serious work should look elsewhere.
4.0 out of 5 stars The best of the series...,
This review is from: IN DEATH GROUND (Mass Market Paperback)Of Weber's series with Steve White, I thought this was by far the best--straight ahead, linear action, with multiple groups of aliens and cultures. The beginning of the exploration of the Orion culture was a nice touch. It is the ultimate Space Opera. What I do wonder though is what Steve White contributed to this series. Weber's fingerprints are all over this--it seems just like part of the Honor Harrington world, with similar descriptions of space battles, many similar terms (superdreadnaughts, for instance). This series seems to be an excuse for Weber to do something without Harrington and in a different political circumstance--but the military action is very familiar, and well done.
2.0 out of 5 stars Great fights, uninspired story, poor delivery; lack of depth,
This review is from: IN DEATH GROUND (Mass Market Paperback)To begin with, there are several things Weber seems to have copied from other people's material. Take for instance Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game (1994), where implacable telepathic insects are bent on displacing the human race and colonizing Earth or Heinlein's Starship Troopers where power armor (like Weber's zoot suits) is used to combat mankind's enemy, the insects. He also seems to have 'borrowed' the concept of an honorable, rigid, non-adaptive feline race from Larry Niven's Man-Kzin Wars (1988) and/or Master of Orion's (1994) Mrrshan species. Weber's avian race in Shiva may have even been inspired by an avian race in Master of Orion.
It seems as if Weber visited a zoo to come up with the inspiration for the alien races in his book. All of them, however, are essentially the same. Inferior to humans economically and strategically and despite their outward appearances all seem to be like humans biologically. Where the avians have vestigal wings, are more like mammals and the felines are more like furry monkeys with cat fangs rather than full-fledged lions/tigers. The alien races he created in these books are annoying. He gives shallow and poor explanations for their behaviour, biology and history and they are all in some way inferior to one group or another, especially to human beings.
One more thing further deposing any creativity or imagination that might have been put into this book is its parallels to World War II history and historical perspectives. Take the humans for example, a sleeping capitalist giant that produces most of the galaxies armaments. Then conflict begins and the first few years of the war the good guys are losing on the defense. After that, it's a war of motion, new technology rolls out, an offensive coalition is formed and we strategically outwit the alien reprobates who refuse to change strategy (much like the Axis during WWII). With the final segment of the story dealing with the use of weapons of mass destruction to end the war. How lame is that? I think Weber could have thought of a more original plot.
The characters he created are all 1 dimensional and extremely stupid. Within their given categories they are all essentially the same as their next fictional fellow with few variations. The humans produce these glorious, brilliant and charismatic leaders who are mostly identical characters to one another; while, their civilians are simpering cowards that produce annoying and troublesome non-military politician leaders. The warrior felines are hot tempered and big on honor with one exception where there is a lone female feline officer caught in a patriarchal society. Even she is cardboard. Other races like the Kuala like "Combat Momas" all pretty much have the same description. They are "Combat Momas" and they appear in battle when they are most needed but don't have much dimension. The avians in the second book are all feathery distinguished elites who have imposed imperialist rule over other species in their part of the galaxy. And the grunts they only act like the stereotypical ground pounders and stay within those bounds. The point I am making is within their respective categories, all these characters are flat and lack the ability to cross over and/or mesh with another category. As well, none of them have depth.
To fill the reader in on the xenocidal insectoids thoughts and intentions, Weber used an italic monologue of what is presumably one insectoid speaking for the hive mind. This came off as cheesy most of the time and could have been executed better.
As well, the overuse and/or overemphasis of female protagonists, military dynasty families and formulaic names like "Agamemnon" grew awfully annoying. I don't mind the use of female characters as strong protagonists in books (see - Niven) but Weber's use of them is prodigal. It also makes me think the author has some issues with the females in his life.
In the two In Death books, Weber would poorly mix some western names with Japanese names in what seems an attempt to create ethnic diversity. The only effect that had was to make it seem like the human world was dominated by Western-Japanese hybrids and nothing else. This is the most diverse names get throughout much of the two books. Weber could have taken some time to research names further instead of what seems like picking names off the top of his head and combining them with Japanese names. Mostly British names conjoined to Japanese names. Thus, it came off as a thoughtless stab at diversity.
The story is rather shallow and unimaginative. I'll give Weber credit in that some of his ideas were original. Take for example the jump points that allow interstellar travel. However, he delivers these ideas horribly and unconvincingly. A video game of all things, called Descent Freespace (1998), did a better job at delivering a similar plot, with similar plot elements, about implacable insectoid aliens than In Death. To boot, it had great space battles.
2.0 out of 5 stars For fans of Weber only...,
By A Customer
This review is from: IN DEATH GROUND (Mass Market Paperback)Here's a simple test to determine if you will like this book:
1) Did you enjoy Weber's Honor Harrington series?
2) Did you think it would have been better without 95% of the politics and all of the details of Harrington's life? (In short, everything but the naval combat?)
If so, this is for you.
Of course, focusing on the war only works if you care about the people or the tactics. There's no reason to care about the people - and contrary to what a lot of other reviews have said, there's not much to care about in the tactics either. In fact, in several key battles, the authors skip the tactics entirely, and we only see the outcome. When the battles are the only reason for the book, that might not be the best choice.
I didn't realize this was based on a computer game until I read it here, but it doesn't surprise me. Each of the alien races has their single advantage and disadvantage - the Orions with their expert fighter pilots but lower technology, the Gorns with their advanced drives but greater need for life support - and of course humans as the 'perfectly balanced' middle ground.
My recommendation: If you want space-navy tactics, try the Harrington books instead. You'll have to get past the Mary-Sue main character, but Weber does a better job there in making the conflict interesting.
3.0 out of 5 stars Good War, Bad Propaganda,
This review is from: IN DEATH GROUND (Mass Market Paperback)I wish the authors had studied the psychology of military leaders as assiduously as they studied their tactics. Here we have captivating naval battle sequences surrounded by hawkish didacticism. As cliched as the evil bugs are (how nice to have aliens devoid of anything redeemable so there is no moral ambiguity in this straw-man war) the military geniuses populating this book are even more so. Each one is a bland hero, universally competent, suitably burdened by command and tediously self-sacrificing. Really? Doesn?t sound like any general I know. And where are the grunts, wondering about their fates? Where are the incompetents, the vainglorious generals who have directed the flow of history? The authors have a very dull ax to grind: warriors good, politicians bad. Yet, I enjoyed the battles enough to recommend this book. Just read the Forever War or even Ender?s Game afterwards as a tonic.
4.0 out of 5 stars Nerdy, Guilty Pleasure,
This review is from: IN DEATH GROUND (Mass Market Paperback)"In Death Ground," like the rest Weber's and White's Starfire series, is one of those science fiction novels and can and probably should be intellectually rejected. However, when I started reading it I had a hard time putting it down.
The story is really quite simple: in the twenty-fourth century Humankind has stumbled upon a particularily nasty breed of aliens bent on systemically injesting (literally) every known being in the entire galaxy. Essentially these beings are ants in space, and they have little regard for their own life in pursuit of ultimate victory and, henceforth, the survival of their species.
There are other aliens, but as a whole the aliens are slightly and uniformly [weak]. It seems as if the author simply thought of various earth animals and made them aliens, from the cat-like (and therefore predatorial) Khanate of Orion to the bird-like (and therefore fragile and agile) Ophiuchi Association.
But the aliens are not really the focus of the novel, and neither are the relatively wooden characters. Instead the battles, strategies, and tactics of the opposing navies are really the most interesting part of this story. The reason is that this is novel based on a wargame, called Starfire, that includes a lot of novel ideas about space combat, namely warp points (points in space that allow for instantaneous travel between star systems) and reactionless drives (engines that allow spacecraft to behave like naval vessels.) In fact David Weber, the primary author, is the principal designer of the game, so undoubtedly all of these campaigns were actually playtested, and as a result are incredibly consistent.
In short, if you are looking for a story with compelling drama and complex characters, look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you want a pleasantly forgettable, yet strangely addicting military science fiction novel, then look no further. For military history and science fiction buffs (such as myself), this book is pure fun. For anyone else, it is probably a bore.
***/**** stars -- Nick Schrock
2.0 out of 5 stars Poorly written, repetitive, and with terrible book binding,
By A Customer
This review is from: IN DEATH GROUND (Mass Market Paperback)I was really let down by this book. Contrary to what others have said I do NOT believe it was anywhere near as good as starship troopers and armor. The story felt repetitive and did not flow well. Not to mention the quality of the book itself was terrible. Each page fell out as I read it. I would NOT suggest this book. Instead read Starship Troopers, Armor, Dune, or Enders game.
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IN DEATH GROUND by Steve White (Mass Market Paperback - May 15 1997)
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