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Friday, September 11, 2009


League of Peoples Book #6
by James Alan Gardner
(4/5 stars)

I've read the five other "League of Peoples" novels before this, most of which take place away from Earth. This is because Earth in 2457 is a very different place than one who watched Star Trek might imagine. Thanks to war and a mass exodus caused by first contact with aliens, Earth has reverted back to roughly the Renaissance with various feudal states all under the control of the Spark Lords, a royal family who use the League's advanced technology to keep the people of Earth in line.

So because of this, "Trapped" is more a fantasy novel than a science-fiction novel. There is some science-fiction involved as there are aliens, psychics, and teleportation, but there's also magic, swords, and a quest. That quest is thrust upon Phil Dhubhai and his friends when Phil finds a dead girl in the dorms at the school where he teaches "science."

The girl is named Rosalind and she's the daughter of a nefarious crime lord, which is only the beginning of complications for Phil. Rosalind was also set to elope with Sebastian, a gifted psychic.

With Rosalind dead, Phil and his party (a kung-fu nun, a knight, a sorceress, a psychic, a music teacher, and Phil's sometimes lover.) have to travel by sea and land to Niagara Falls to find Sebastian. Finding him is only the tip of the iceberg, as Sebastian is embroiled in an evil plot involving otherworldly forces.

Like the other "League of Peoples" novels this is a fast, fun read not to be taken too seriously. This is aided by Phil's sometimes snarky, other times self-deprecating first-person narration. As in any good quest yarn the various members of the party all get their chances to shine, some making noble sacrifices. For the most part these party members are static, though each is given a little quirk to make them more interesting and fun than a cardboard cutout.

If you haven't read the Festina Ramos books in the series ("Expendable," "Vigilant," "Hunted," "Ascending," and "Radiant") there's no need to worry as this book is not directly connected to those. It's more of a spin-off like Gardner's previous "Commitment Hour" that also took place on Earth, though was far less interesting. It does help if you've read those just for a background on the League of Peoples and Explorers and things like that, but it's not absolutely necessary.

Overall I'd say if you like some fun space opera/fantasy then this is a good read to while away a few hours. The rest of Gardner's books are good for that as well.

That is all.

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