4 A buddy read with my MacHalo Freaks I truly enjoyed this Science Fiction and the idea of lines as a force to propel humanity in space, but also as something sentient and needing to communicate and commune with others, humans included The main character was very lovable and appealing, but I loved all the strong and independent women who surrounded him This is a slow developing plot, almost ambient at times, but it is worth the read I was very pleasantly surprised by the debt of charters and the intricacies of the political intrigues I recommend it to all Sci fi and space opera fans, but it is a good read for all fans of the fantastical Happy reading to all 4.5 starsI really liked this one a lot The worldbuilding was so interesting, and since the main character, Ean, isn t all that worldly himself, the reader gets to learn about it pretty much at the same time he does It is very well written for a debut novel, and I definitely get the sense that things will only get smoother in future books The way the lines responsible for a ship s functioning in this world work also make the ship a sentient being, linked to the emotional health of the Captain and crew This reminded me very much of the way the sentient AIs such as those used on ships and stations were portrayed in the Imperial Radch books by Ann Leckie Those AIs definitely identified with their people, and did better when there were people around for them to look after It was very similar here, with the lines forming strong bonds with the crew, except that, until Ean comes along, people generally scoff universally at the idea that the lines are sentient I liked Ean as a main character He was so kind, and obviously unprepared for some things, but his lack of preparation in a lot of ways seems to ultimately be the key to his success in working with the lines He is intelligent, although quite naive in many ways when it comes to politics both large and small, but ultimately a very open minded and accepting person, which made me sympathetic to him.This story has so many places to go in future books, and I m really looking forward to seeing things develop. Linesman reminded me just a bit of a military inflected take on Anne McCaffrey s Crystal Singer books.It s adventure oriented sci fi In this future, space travel is dependent on The Lines adopted found alien technology which is only partially understood by humans Each spacecraft has a set of energy lines which have to be maintained and in tune almost like a piano to function well Only Linesmen both male and female this is an egalitarian future can perceive the Lines and fix them mentally Ean Lambert is a top rated Linesman, but he s a bit unusual He s the only one in his field who has to sing to the lines in order to get them to respond He s a great singer, but this quirk has caused his colleagues to treat him with contempt for his eccentricity and has caused Ean himself, a slum boy made good who already had a bit of a self esteem problem, to have a giant inferiority complex.Ean s also jealous, because when all the other top rated Linesmen are sent out to investigate a just discovered anomaly known as The Confluence, his Guild s master, who holds his contract, keeps him close to home to work on mundane tasks.However, everything changes when a wealthy and politically well positioned aristocrat decides she needs to hire Ean for her own purposes Suddenly, he finds himself placed as a linchpin in a conflict that may determine the fates of interplanetary empires It s fun space opera, but at times it dragged on a bit where it should ve been quick moving I feel like the story could ve benefited by being edited down into a shorter book with the same amount of plot It has two viewpoint characters Ean is the main one, but a smaller number of chapters are Jordan, a guy on the other side I didn t find Jordan s character compelling at all, and I think the book could ve done without him However, it s a promising debut from these two authors, and I ll be willing to follow up with the forthcoming sequel to find out what happens next Many thanks to NetGalley and Ace for the opportunity to read As always, my opinions are solely my own.
4.5 Re reads are becoming my staple when RL is a bit too much and I can t concentrate on new books I just pick one of my favourite titles and relax into it 0 This one is so good, a treat really Right, re charged and ready to dive into new waters once You know the feeling when you start a book and from the first line you know you re not going to be able to stop reading Well, this is exactly what happened here First, the truly compelling main character Ean is your typical fish out of water protagonist, deeply empathic and skilled at what he does, but totally without a clue when it comes to politics and social rules around him There is a little of the autistic savant to him or is it the fairy tale, the ugly duckling turning or rather having the potential of becoming the most magnificent swan.Second is the notion of ships controlled by lines of power, each its own function, characteristic, and sentience Ean s interactions with them through singing linked art and science in a fascinating way And this is where the novel shines I couldn t get enough of these.The authors also created a complex universe, full of waring factions and political machinations, even if sometimes a little confusing, with several interesting characters, such as Radko, Abram, Michelle, Sales and Rossi The latter one shares the narration and seemed to provide the counter balance to Ean, but without the charisma I can t wait however to find out about all of it. This was an unexpected find The starships in this book are run via energy lines that are kept in working order by Linesmen There are 10 lines on a ship and the strongest linesmen are the ones who can manipulate all 10 lines The linesmen are somehow able to keep these lines in good repair through some kind of projection of mental force.Ean Lambert is a level 10 linesman, but an exceptionally unconventional one because he sings to the lines to keep them in shape According to every other linesman and all of their training this isn t even possible Ean s contract is bought by the Lancastrian Princess and he s brought out to work with an alien spacecraft that nobody knows how to get close to.It s hard to pick my favorite thing about this book The description of Ean s singing as well as his POV of what he s doing to the lines is absolutely fascinating This also has a number of very appealing and loveable characters Radko, Abram, and Michelle are wonderful And then there s Jordan Man, I hated that guy His arrogance was so off putting that I found myself pretty much wanting him to die off and go away Unfortunately he was one of the POV characters so I was pretty sure I was stuck with him.The only downsides were Ean s insecurities, which were understandable since he was thought to be completely crazy, and the writing was mediocre This was a serious page turner for me and every now and then I d be rocketing along, trying to gulp down a paragraph per second and I d hit one of these weird sentences that even multiple rereads couldn t make sense of Neither of these issues was anywhere near enough of a problem to keep me from devouring the entire series in three or four days There is some serious imagination at play here and it was fantastic. Space opera with FTL travel enabled by humans with the special ability to sense and manipulate Lines , manifestations of some sort of psychic energy that s currently beyond science.We re introduced to Ean Lambert, one of the few Linesmen that can access level ten, the highest level of Lines and the Line that enables FTL Ean is unique in that he sings to the Lines and they interact with him in ways that no other Linesman can achieve Ean starts out with one of the Linesman cartels, but has his contract purchased by a Princess of the Alliance, one of the the three main human political powers The Alliance are about to go to war with the Gate Union egged on by the third political power, Redmond Princess Michelle has a last ditch plan to avert a war and requires a level ten Linesman to pull it off.The world building here is pretty good and the Lines and alien influences are fascinating The politics are ever present and believable as well, giving the novel that sweeping scope that you expect in the best space operas Ean himself is likeable, but his inferiority complex can be a bit hard to take for the first two thirds of the book He was raised in a slum and is lower class than the majority of other Linesman as well as being trained a lot older The other Linesmen look down on him for this as well as his strange singing process.This is an excellent first part of a series, with a reasonable and satisfying conclusion for a first book, but clearly with much to come including the mysteries of the aliens and the mysterious artifacts that they have left behind. Setting this aside for now I only got to 10% and it was doing nothing for me I like the premise and it seems interesting in a way I m just not in the mood and am not going to force it Maybe I ll try it again in the future.Buddy read with of course the MacHalo group May 16, 2016.I have a feeling I have gone a little too crazy with the BRs for May. &FREE ↾ Linesman ↠ First In A Brand New Thought Provoking Science Fiction SeriesThe Lines No Ship Can Traverse The Void Without Them Only Linesmen Can Work With Them But Only Ean Lambert Hears Their Song And Everyone Thinks He S Crazy Most Slum Kids Never Go Far, Certainly Not Becoming A Level Ten Linesman Like Ean Even If He S Part Of A Small, And Unethical, Cartel, And The Other Linesmen Disdain His Self Taught Methods, He S Certified And WorkingThen A Mysterious Alien Ship Is Discovered At The Edges Of The Galaxy Each Of The Major Galactic Powers Is Desperate To Be The First To Uncover The Ship S Secrets, But All They Ve Learned Is That It Has The Familiar Lines Of Energy And A Defense System That, Once Triggered, Annihilates Everything In A Kilometer RadiusThe Vessel Threatens Any Linesman Who Dares To Approach It, Except Ean His Unique Talents May Be The Key To Understanding This Alarming New Force And Reconfiguring The Relationship Between Humans And The Ships That Serve Them, Forever Ah, it s so nice when a book blows you away with how awesome it is I was hoping I d like Linesman, but I didn t anticipate loving it so much But sister act Sherylyn and Karen Dunstall have managed to create an original, exciting new entry in the space opera subgenre If you like space opera, SF with a psychic twist, or whiny people getting their comeuppance, you should read this book So let s not waste any time and get into explaining why Ean Lambert is a certified ten which is not to say he s good looking Rather, he s the highest level of linesman Think of linesmen as Jedis who use their Force powers to fix ships instead of having impractical lightsaber battles Lines, numbered from one to ten, are energy constructs that humanity uses to facilitate their spaceship operations, including, crucially, faster than light travel No one is really sure what lines are as with many innovations, we just sort of stumbled onto the secret of making them Most linesmen push and pull lines psychically again, no one is really sure how that works Ean is an outsider, both in terms of his social background and how his initially self taught linesmen skills mean he must sing to the lines To other tens, he is a dangerous imposter of a linesman.Anyway, to make a long story short Ean gets caught up in interstellar brinkmanship far beyond his pay grade At first he s not happy, but he quickly comes to enjoy his new situation to an extent, because at the very least it s proving challenging and someone is actually appreciating him After years of being shit on for not fitting in, a few people are paying attention to what he can actually do So everything is looking up for Ean you know, if you ignore the people trying to kidnap him, kill him, seize control of a strange alien ship before he does the usual.The stakes Linesman are high Dunstall thrusts us into a human society on the brink of war The universe reminds me a little of Bujold s Vorkosigan books, with a few consolidated powers loosely controlling a vast array of planets, united by a fragile FTL MacGuffin wormholes in Vorkosigan, carefully scheduled gating in this book to avoid mishaps Linesman is also like the Vorkosigan books in that it s not precisely military SF, but it s military SF adjacent The relationship between Abram and Michelle, for instance, reminds me a little of the relationship between some Barrayaran military generals and people like Cordelia or Miles They are both very strategic people with slightly different specialties and occasionally different priorities Abram wants to protect Michelle, even if she s not in the mood to be protected.Dunstall neatly balances Ean s acumen He s not a completely blank slate, but he has largely eschewed politics until now He has a history with Lancia Michelle s faction , having grown up in poverty there and escaped it only because of his skill with the lines So it s ironic that he ends up working for them, not just because Michelle buys his contract but because he starts to like them This sense of humour and playfulness pervades the book and helps to take the edge off what is otherwise a very tense situation.In addition to following Ean, some chapters follow Jordan Rossi, a conventional ten I like this perspective, both on galactic politics and on linesmen s place in the power structure Between Jordan and Ean we get a good sense of how linesmen work with the lines but it s clear that there is so much out there that Dunstall have yet to reveal I love how they gradually dole out that knowledge at the start of the book, the uses of lines seven and eight are unknown Ean discovers what line eight does, and he also makes a few other discoveries I won t spoil here But the book ends with Ean interrogating line seven about what it does a mild cliffhanger, perhaps, but a cliffhanger nonetheless I was well annoyed when I read that last page And I so very much want to read Alliance I have already checked my library has two copies one is on hold, so I m not the only person in Thunder Bay who is enjoying this series There s just something so smooth and enjoyable about Dunstall s writing Dunstall manages the scope necessary for space opera without forgetting about having great characters Much like in the paradigm case of Dune, learning about the wider galactic society is an important part of Linesman, but it is secondary to the main plots.Finally, this story has a wealth of secondary characters who make it so much better In general, Dunstall gives us a bunch of interesting women in all sorts of roles Michelle, although royalty, is not your typical princess, and on the opposite side of the political board we get Admiral Orsaya Rebekah Grimes shares Michelle s penchant for scheming, while Admiral Katida puts the moves on Ean shamelessly The best for last, though Radko, assigned to Ean as a kind of orderly babysitter while he is aboard, proves essential in so many respects Not only does she offer physical protection and training, but she is a wellspring of psychological reassurance and support in a way that surprises both of them I love that Linesman has so many great female characters Moreover, there were some good, casual comments about fashion and how it has changed since our present day we ve got some tight fitting tops and tights that are all the rage among men as well as women Little bit of fat shaming on Ean s part, though It s all very subtle but it s also important to acknowledge.Of course just as women have always fought, women have always written science fiction But if any poor, deluded sod was under the impression that women don t write good military science fiction, Linesman is just another counterexample This is an awesome new entry into the field it has excited me about space opera in ways I was not expecting If you want to feel that, then you got to get a piece of this action.My reviews of the Linesman series Alliance 4.5 singing for this solid series opener This story is just a kick It s not brilliant, but I really enjoyed this singing space man Jumping through the void, faster than the speed of light The theoretical foundations are very light no attempt at hard science but there s enough to ignite my imagination I quite enjoyed it, despite some quibbles I m adding a star because this is Dunstall s first novel As a debut, it stands out from the norm Intriguing, this idea of optimally joyous lines powering the ships, and the linesmen who work with them, at various levels The lines manifest emotions and intelligence Maybe they are alive Maybe a form of AI Alien maybe But the accepted theory states that they are merely energy Ean, our unsung hero, knows better The lines respond joyously to his song Ean s a virtuoso The lines are virtually strings on his cello Since childhood, his harmony with them has been heartfelt and intuitive But everyone derides him, his music, and his theories.This book reminded me of Crystal Soldier, with the sentient tree If you liked Lee Miller s Liaden series, you will probably like this one.Some quibbles 1 The lines could hear Ean s thoughts and responded shen he was musing silently to himself, so why does he need to sing aloud Ean s thoughts dwelt too repeatedly on how other linesmen slighted him He began to feel like a victim.2 I found the political military discussions a bit long and tedious, even though I care about that topic and it s central to the plot But various many POVs made it cumbersome, and I didn t care for Rossi or his POV but his nasty thoughts do add some snarky humor 3 It s unclear how these lines could be sentient beings, if they are made in a factory Perhaps the cloning, but patterns cloned repeatedly for 500 years would become corrupt.I m fairly curious Planning to read about this world Update I ve read all three books now, and want