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Book Review: The Night Watch

The Night Watch (The Pirates Series) (Volume 3). Chris Gerrib. Cincinnatus Press, June 28, 2016, Kindle and Trade Paperback, 318 pages.

Reviewed by Robert King.

The Night Watch is the third in a series of books about the trials and travails of colonists and pirates on Mars. This installment involves a plot to take over the planet by a terrorist fringe group from Earth and the efforts of the Mars-based Space Rescue Service to thwart it. Having not read the first two books in the series, I may be at a disadvantage in reviewing this book. In my view, the author of a series has a certain responsibility to anticipate that some readers will read the books out of order or perhaps only one of them. Therefore, even in a series, each book must stand on its own, somehow incorporating enough of the backstory of the earlier books and their characters as is necessary to make each book worth reading, and to make the reader want to read the other books in the series. In my judgment, The Night Watch fails to live up to that responsibility.

That is not to say there are not enjoyable parts of the book. The last third of the book involves the battles that take place in space and on Phobos, one of Mars’ moons, between the terrorist forces and the Space Rescue Service. The descriptions here are vivid and the action fast-paced. The author has an economic writing style that is easy to digest, and this portion of the book is a real page-turner.

But the first two-thirds of the book is slow moving. The characters are flat and stereotypical. I was not given enough information about their motivations to care about what happens to them. I think that character development was stymied by the fact that the book uses excessive amounts of dialogue to propel the story, with little narrative voice. The “science” part of this science fiction story was pedestrian and did not really add much to the book.

Maybe readers of the first two books in the series will appreciate The Night Watch more than I did. However, to me, it was more an action novel than a science fiction novel and did not stand on its own in terms of character and plot development.


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