RogerBW's Blog

Voice of Mars, Glynn Stewart 21 September 2022

2016 SF, third of its series. Damien Montgomery, one of the few troubleshooters for the Mage-King of Mars is bounced from one crisis to another. But he hadn't expected to be sent to his old homeworld.

On one level, this is wish-fulfilment: Montgomery has vast authority, and is a hugely powerful mage too. But he's also desperate not to resolve an incipient war just by swatting down both sides, even if he has the resources to do it, because that won't do anything about the underlying problems even if it should be an effective temporary fix. And that's before he has to start considering the possibility of false flags. (All right, after book 2 where everyone was very much aware of that sort of thing, it feels like a bit of a step back to have some planetary governors who really aren't – but it seems sadly realistic that they can't see a distinction between "our ships have been destroyed" and "our traditional rival destroyed our ships".)

This is also a story about teamwork: even with All the Powers, Montgomery can't do everything, and he has to rely on others for some of it. He's chosen good subordinates, but if he weren't able to trust them, things would go far less well.

"I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to be micro-managing my social life," he pointed out.

"She's not," Christoffsen assured him, looking far too amused. "She's just pointing out that it's clearly your duty to throw yourself on that unexploded redhead for Mage-King and Protectorate."

There are great big space battles, and there's magic, and there are mysteries which can't be readily solved by either… and to me at least they never feel like a poor match. I quite enjoy Stewart's more conventional Castle Federation series too, but this one I love.

Damien kept his attention on the communicator.

"Julia?" he asked softly.

"My lord?"

"Be very careful. I don't trust this."

"No shit, my lord."

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Previous in series: Hand of Mars | Series: Starship's Mage

  1. Posted by J Michael Cule at 12:23pm on 21 September 2022

    This sequence is one of those 'read them all, gobble them down like peanuts and feel awful about it afterwards' bits of cheap internet skiffy that convince me that I really don't have any taste in literature just an addiction to storytelling.

    It's the equivalent of a three day bender for an alcoholic.

    It's possible, of course, that Roger may have more self control than me.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 02:07pm on 21 September 2022

    I've consumed straight runs of series before, and I find it very disorientating when I come to the end. So now I have a system which gives me suggestions about which of the various ongoing series to read next, and keeps them more or less interleaved.

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