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Book Review: Rogue Planet: Fortress At The Top Of The World

Rogue Planet: Fortress At The Top Of The World, written by Ian Harac, better known in the blogosphere as Lizard, is a rousing planetary romance. Lots of excitement, action, exploration, lost civilizations, found civilizations, and really good interaction between the protagonist characters.

There is a lot to like here. The book’s well-written, well-paced, and there are a lot of really clever nods to the genre. Furthermore, Ian does a really good job of taking some of the less-savory elements of the genre, and either simply dropping them in front and center to acknowledge them, or working around them with modern sensibilities in a very adroit way. One of the problems with Deja Thoris is that she always came across as an ancillary of John Carter; it wasn’t that she failed to be brave and clever and a good leader and such, it was just that those attributes only defined her so as to make her a good match for John. Here, the female leads are much better realized as independent characters in their own right.

There are a few weaknesses, though. The otherwise-strong pacing falters a tiny bit at the end of the novel, as material for sequels is being set up, and without those sequels, the book doesn’t really end in an optimal position. It resolves the story arc that was raised initially, but there’s stuff left unanswered, and not in a tempting-mystery way. Also, the bad guys lean way, way, too hard on the “And he must be taken alive for my nefarious and sadistic purposes!” for my preference; having this happen once is acceptable, but anyone who’s gamed as long as Ian has should know that the moments of most tension are when the villain has been forced to throw away their pride, their glorious self-image, and all of their plans other than surviving the next few seconds, and throws all of the power that has opposed the hero throughout the story at them at once in sheer desperation.

For those weaknesses, however, it’s still a very worthwhile and entertaining read, and one I recommend.

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