Thursday, May 9, 2013

Thursday Review: Ascending

This is one of my older reviews.  It has perhaps the second most clever title for one of my Amazon reviews.  I called it "Wherein I give Ascending the Thumbs Down" which is only clever if you read the book where each chapter title is like "Wherein I...[whatever]".  At the end it says [the money] because Amazon doesn't like you to list specific prices.

Ascending by James Alan Gardner
January 15, 2002
(1/5 stars)

I've generally given Gardner's Festina Ramos books high marks, his previous work "Hunted" I gave 5 stars. Overall, Gardner's books have been action-packed quick reads, even if some aspects of the story are unbelievable. "Ascending" however, never really got going and did little to hold my interest.

For starters, the narrator, Oar, is really annoying to read for 350+ pages. Her childish prose would be acceptable for a chapter or two, but a whole book becomes tiresome.

The book never excited me, but there was a decent pay-off at the end with sufficient action to not be a complete let-down. However, that ending was completely rushed. That was a negative, but at the same time, I wouldn't want to read a 500-page by Oar, it would probably be too tedious to finish.

This is my least-favorite of Gardner's books besides "Commitment Hour" which is more of a spin-off. I was really disappointed because "Hunted" was an awesome book that I literally couldn't put down, but "Ascending" didn't come close to filling its shoes. In my opinion, this is in part because Gardner has pumped out one of these books a year since 1997, he should probably take a year off to refresh his perspective a little. Unfortunately, at the end the mysterious Pollisand remarks that he'll see Festina & Oar real soon, which can only mean that next winter another adventure will be on the shelves. Let's all hope it's better.

I said this recently about, "Shadow of the Hegemon" by Orson Scott Card, but it bears repeating. If you're a fan of the Ramos series, read "Ascending" just so you don't get lost, but rent it from the library, buy it used, or borrow it from a friend, because it isn't worth [the money].

Tomorrow is another Box Office Blitz!


  1. Ooh. A 1-star review! I bet Andrew will pop up with much approval for you.

  2. But should we read the series as a whole? Is this book the (Insert particular "Star Wars" installment you disliked) of an otherwise great series?

    I'll hang up now and listen for your response.

    1. If you must know, "Expendable" is the first book in the series and it's really good. "Vigilant" is second and it's OK. "Hunted" I thought was great. "Ascending" was bad. "Radiant" was better. There are two I guess you could call them "sidequels" because they take place in the same universe but focus on characters stuck on Earth which in this universe is in a kind of quarantine. "Commitment Hour" was not great while "Trapped" was pretty good, especially if you like fantasy questing stories more than space opera.

      I think all of those are reviewed somewhere on my book review blog ( Search by titles and you can find them.

  3. When it comes to reviews of books in this genre, your word is gold.

  4. That title is gold once you explain it Pat. Some series just don't hold up after the writer runs out of steam.

  5. I hate it when I like one or two books by an author and then dislike the rest.

    I have Origins and Hero's Journey, but haven't been able to read them yet. Sorry.




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