“Warrior King” is the first book in the new “Star Legions: The Terran Wars” series written by Michael G. Thomas; available now in audiobook format. This author currently has over thirty books available on Audible (at the time of this review) and most fall into the science fiction genre. The audiobook edition is performed by J. Scott Bennett who is a well-known narrator with nearly 150 audiobook performances covering almost every possible genre imaginable. If I were to take one life lesson away from what I learned in this book, it would be the quote that says, “Be where your enemy is not.”; lightly attributed to quotes from the “Art of War” book by Sun Tzu. If you like your science fictions stores rather large, complex, and expansive, you may want to give this series a try. There are some things that set this book apart from your run of the mill science fiction tale, yet I’m not sure I will be recommending the series to others due to some of the things mentioned below.
The book had so much potential with such a grand premise along with its ability to blend both old and new. There were ships, futuristic weapons, and swords all being used alongside one another throughout the story. We were shown ship-to-ship battles along with some sizable ground-based assaults, and many of these were done well. I thought the blending of mythology and future was a great concept and I wanted more of it in this book. It felt like bits and pieces of Star Wars because of its vast and open worlds, good vs. evil story, and the various factions battling for the win. For me though, the story was too disjointed, meandering, and inconsistent from similar books I have listened too. I wanted to enjoy the book but instead found myself focusing elsewhere and it is easy to get lost if you do not rewind and pick up where you last remembered. I had to do this a few times while listening and I do not recall other book where I needed to rewind the material to pick the story back up.
I did not feel the characters were passionate about their roles and tasks; overall. There were times they were focused but only to get distracted and go in a different direction. They all seemed to operate at the same pace and urgency, at times it was hard to tell characters apart from one another. I wanted more depth and backstory on the main characters and their various people groups. I wanted to truly understand their desires and struggles, which I just did not get a feel for. Give me, the listener, a reason to care or have feelings for the book’s characters. The world and scenes were painted with vivid detail and color, but the characters themselves felt flat and uninteresting. I wanted to care for one side or the other, yet neither were interesting enough to expend such energy upon. I wanted more of the science fiction elements such as the Great Expanse, more technology, and more character development making the book more fun and interesting to listen too.
The audiobook’s narration was done well by J. Scott Bennett. Although the characters were not multi-dimensional the voicing of them was good. Mr. Bennett was able to add inflection and some subtle sound effects making the book feel grander and fuller. There were times the performance seemed a bit flat or monotone, yet this could have been due to the material he was given. The overall audio quality and performance was decent and above average based on other books I have listened too. I have a few of his other works and I enjoyed them very much.
In summary, the book felt incomplete and unpolished. It was average when placed alongside the many other books found in the genre. Could it have been a great science fiction space opera? I think so, but it feels like it needed to be more cohesive and tighter in the storylines and the characters needed to me much better defined. The audiobook’s performance was solid with only a few slight blemishes, most of those are my own preferences. Being that this is the first in a series, I have to give the author some leeway in my critique. Yet, this is not his first published work and I expected more than what I felt was delivered in the end. I hope the other books in the series are more defined, more interesting, and more action.