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Sun 01 / Unconquerable Sun par Kate Elliott

Sun 01 / Unconquerable Sun (édition 2020)

par Kate Elliott

Séries: The Sun Chronicles (Book 1)

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1536136,216 (4.06)15
Titre:Sun 01 / Unconquerable Sun
Auteurs:Kate Elliott
Info:Tor Books, 2020.
Collections:Votre bibliothèque, Ebooks, 2021
Mots-clés:read, forum, FC2021, sf, serie, ruimtereis, politiek, aliens, oorlog, space opera, gevecht, vriendschap, verraad, lgbtq, read in 2021

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Unconquerable Sun par Kate Elliott


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Affichage de 1-5 de 6 (suivant | tout afficher)
I had high expectations for this novel - maybe too high - based on the story’s premise: an interstellar backdrop where conflicting powers measure their strength through politics and open war, where intrigue between influential families leads toward a constant shift of alliances and betrayals, while at the center of all this we follow a main character described as the female equivalent of Alexander the Great - the potential for a Dune-like epic was irresistible, but unfortunately Unconquerable Sun did not fulfill its promises as I hoped.

The Republic of Chaonia has managed to subdue or assimilate most of its enemies, and queen-marshal Eirene built her power-base through military victories and political alliances, a few of these signed though marriage contracts, like the one binding Eirene to Prince Joao and producing the heir, Princess Sun. Sun is struggling to make a name for herself, moving out of her mother’s encompassing shadow, by taking an active part in Chaonia’s military campaigns, but a sudden shift in the political winds turns her almost overnight into a fugitive, so she must rely on her finely-honed wits, the support of her Companions, and the help of a rival family’s member to regain her rightful place and overthrow an insidious conspiracy enacted by Chaonia’s most dangerous foes. The other two main POVs in the novel come from Persephone Lee, who unsuccessfully tries to escape her powerful family’s machinations by enrolling in the military academy under an assumed name, and ends up among Sun’s Companions; and from Apama, a pilot in the fleet of the Phene, Chaonia’s main adversaries: this was the most interesting character for me, and one of my main disappointments in the story came from the almost negligible “screen time” allotted to her after she was introduced.

At the start of the book I was intrigued, both by the fascinating background of this vast galactic milieu and by the potential shown by the characters: sadly, after a while it all seemed to turn into a confused and confusing jumble of daring escapes, heated battles and things going spectacularly boom, which might be all right if one wants only *adventure* and a plot-heavy story, but I prefer relatable characters in my reading material, and I soon realized that there was too little of that in this novel. More than once I thought that this story might work better as a movie - and as such it reminded me of The Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending, where the action overwhelmed any other consideration - but as a book I found it unfortunately lacking.

The sheer number of characters makes for a distracting experience because there is no time or space to get to know them, or to be able to differentiate between them - which is particularly true for Sun’s Companions - to the point that any harm befalling them leaves no lingering traces, and even when the story focuses on the main ones, like Sun or Persephone, it’s difficult to see them as people rather than stereotypes. Sun is presented as very determined, but from my point of view she comes off rather as an overbearing spoiled brat, and Persephone - who is strangely given a more detailed focus than the actual main character - is an unpleasant combination of meanness and self-pity, while the author keeps telling us that she is a shrewd operator, mostly by calling her “the wily Persephone” in the title of each chapter where she is the focus. And goodness, does she make a lot of embarrassing mistakes for someone who spent the last few years in the academy being honed for military service!

Despite these problems, which became evident after the first handful of chapters, I kept on reading in the hope that the story would find its footing and become the compelling tale promised by the blurb, but as the page count progressed it became more and more apparent that I would not find what I looked for: even skimming over the most repetitive sequences of Sun & Co. running for their lives and then being involved in a long, drawn-out battle that went on and on and on, I failed to find anything that would hold my interest. Once the characters started to adopt the less palatable traits of the YA mold, like unnecessary cattiness or insta-lust for anything moving into their field of vision (yes, Persephone, I’m looking right at you…), I knew that Unconquerable Sun would turn into a lost cause: as Sun took over a Chaonian vessel, ousting a seasoned captain to take command of the operations, I knew that this “Mary Sue maneuver” would be the proverbial straw, and decided to put an end to my suffering.

I’m aware that my personal biases are responsible for my negative reaction to this novel, which is the main reason I must warn you to take my opinion with a grain of salt, but when all is said and done, this is certainly not a book for me. ( )
  SpaceandSorcery | Apr 9, 2021 |
Elliott, Kate. Unconquerable Sun. The Sun Chronicles No. 1. Tor, 2020.
Unconquerable Sun is an ambitious novel, and it is the beginning of what I expect will be an even more ambitious trilogy. It bills itself as a “gender-swapped Alexander the Great” space opera. It has received many glowing reviews—praising its characters, style, and action. I am afraid I cannot join the chorus. Princess Sun, the stand-in for Alexander, returns from her first space combat mission expecting adulation she does not get from her stand-offish mother. So, motive to conquer the galaxy, I guess. I expected her to be our center of interest, but I soon began to suspect that Kate Elliott is not a good judge of who her best characters are. The novel uses so many different POV characters that you may need to jot notes to yourself to keep track of who is who and who is where. My favorite was Zizou, a genetically engineered mercenary warrior who struggles to reconcile his honor code indoctrination with the reality of the web of Interstellar intrigue in which he has become enmeshed. But he is such a decidedly minor figure that he is not mentioned by many reviewers. Despite the occasional F-bomb, dialogue throughout is stodgily formal, and only a few characters are given an identifiable voice. Descriptive passages are likewise often overly written and often without obvious dramatic necessity. Action scenes are better, but there is not much new about the tactics or technology they employ. In the end, only a few scenes really engaged my attention. If you like Game-of-Thrones palace intrigue wedded with Star-Wars-style space battles with some historical analogs and gender-bending tropes, you will probably like this novel better than I do. ( )
  Tom-e | Jan 28, 2021 |
Aisa Lee—my mother—looks up and sees me.
"Persephone!" She presses the back of a hand to her forehead, sways alarmingly, and almost tips over her chair, which is caught by an attendant. Then she slumps, closing her eyes as if she has fainted. I know her tricks. She's waiting for me to run over to her to make sure she's all right.
I snag an empty chair beside Aunt Moira and sit down.
  Jon_Hansen | Sep 13, 2020 |
Space opera full out. Sun, the problematical daughter and heir to a growing buffer state turned empire, escapes a number of accidents and attacks as the story gets off to a deliberate and not very interesting start, but the action starts and complexity of the situation grows and careens through land air attacks and space battles, with hidden reveals popping up like pearls on a string - and we're only getting started. ( )
  quondame | Jul 30, 2020 |
I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads giveaway program.

I enjoyed this book very much. Although this novel is meant for young adults, I recommend it to anyone looking for a good, action-packed, science fiction story.

This story is based on real history, with Princess Sun in the place of Alexander the Great and her Companions in the place of his companions/generals/most trusted friends. The author has written a story remarkably true to recorded history while letting it all develop organically so it doesn't feel like she is straining to make her story fit the historical narrative.

There is some skilled, clever world-building going on in this book. In the vein of one of the great traditions of science fiction, Unconquerable Sun draws from real cultural traditions to build the new societies in the book. For example, in the course of the story we see characters wearing white in mourning and red at a wedding, in accordance with real Chinese customs. Other examples of Chinese culture abound (the writing, names, dress, etc) but there are other cultures incorporated into the story too: one warrior-race (the Gatoi) sports body markings that made me think of Samoan tattoos and African scarification; a common greeting among those in the story is the call and response formula "peace be upon you/and upon you peace" that is common among Muslims; there are also references to Christian religious traditions; names reference Asian Indian language/culture, as well as Korean, Portuguese, and Japanese cultures -- this book's greatest strength is in this diversity. It makes for an exhilarating read.

Elliott deserves high praise for telling this narrative without a heteronormative stance. She also draws attention to social issues like the plight of people living in refugee camps without the privileges and protections of citizenship and of immigrant laborers who are exploited by being charged by their employers for rent, food, etc.

The story is written in the past tense for half the book, but there are stretches and random chapters in the present tense. It was confusing to me because I kept looking for a justification for these tense shifts back and forth but couldn't find any. Then too, half the book is written in a third person narrative, with chapters told from one character's perspective (Persephone Lee) in a first person point of view. Again, I couldn't find a reason for this flip-flopping, though this may become clearer in subsequent books in this series. The tense and PoV shifts were distracting.

The author has a talent for describing the action in a way that keeps the pace up without making it too hard to follow, a rare talent among "space opera" science fiction writers. As with most science fiction, this is a plot-driven book with no discernible character arc for any of the characters. The main characters are "types" -- the musician, the data whiz, the uber-proficient ex-military bodyguard, and so on -- probably because there are so many of them in the ensemble and it's easier to keep track of who's who if they fit certain roles.

All in all, between the amazing cultural diversity and the high-powered action, this is an engrossing story that held my interest from beginning to end. This is a book worth paying hard-earned money for! I give it 5 stars though I think the tense changes, the PoV changes, and the lack of character arcs hold it back from being a "perfect" novel, but a 4 star rating seems too low.

~bint ( )
  bintarab | Jun 2, 2020 |
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