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Cat's Gambit by Leslie Gadallah

Cat's Gambit

by Leslie Gadallah

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Showing 4 of 4
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Cat's Gambit had my full attention with a very poignant start to the story. In chapter 1 protagonist Ayyah, a Orian, has just given birth to her litter in a birthing cave but instead of feeling joy she is quietly grieving because each child was still born. We soon learn this community of Orians may be the last survivors of the Oriani race. Having fled their home planet due to mass genocide at the hands of the Kaz Empire they've taken refuge on inhospitable KD2434-II. Since their arrival the threat of extinction is still very real because, like Ayyah's, all pregnancies have ended in still births. After the high emotional investment I initially felt for Ayyah and her people in chapter 1 it quickly dwindled down. Subsequent chapters kept jumping from one location after another introducing the other characters in the midst of which Ayyah embarks on a quest to personally have a hand in bringing down the Kaz Empire. Her mission is based on the notion that a widely unheard of, possibly mythical, uncharted, planet's existence would mean it's inhabitants would have the answer needed in the fight against Kaz domination. With that being the objective I was surprised by the lack of action and/or suspense in the story, there seemed to be just a lot of fluff/filler that added nothing of substance to the storyline. Ayyah's character actually becomes less endearing and more stoic and abrasive that I found myself a little bored (sorry) with her plight. When they do find the information needed to make a strike at the Kaz the action finally begins but it's brief, easily accomplished and wrapped up before you know it.

One of my favorite things in Sci-Fi books is the creative aliens. Maybe Book 1 in the series gave a more vivid depiction of the alien races but I found it lacking in Cat's Gambit I was only able to form a vague mental picture. Although I found author, Leslie Gadallah's Lleveci's race of people to have a fascinating culture particularly towards the biological and physical aspects of parenting and the roles in village life.

Based on the first chapter, highlights here and there I really wanted to like this story but there just wasn't enough going on to hold my interest overall. ( )
  mtchrista | Apr 13, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Cats vs insects in space take two. (yes it's the 2nd in the series, but it's set several generations later than the 1st without any overlapping characters, so it could be read pretty much as a standalone).

The orian have been destroyed, the Kaz took revenge for their interference in local galactic affairs and arrived in force. A few stragglers managed to save some of their culture and fled to isolated outposts, unsuited to their way of life. Survival is more important than revenge, but with a failing birth rate, extreme situations have to be considered. The grandaughter remembers her grandfather's stories of human rebels and stumbles across a reference to a legend which may, if real, be able to help. She just needs a ship to get there.

Enter the human Macdonald, ex-pirate and Kaz rebel. Having recently lost most of the little he cared about, he's currently just motivated by the next deal. When an arms shipment has riders attached requireing him to help the Orian he's not that bothered - providing she can tell him where this place is, and that the Kaz don't get to him first.

I remain unconvinced by the universe and the Kaz's lack of technological might. A distributed hivemind requiring in person contact to relay information is never going to succeed very far. The humans were reasonably well done though, a bunch of variegated misfits. And very similar to a slightly more warrioreske alien race, split between cooperators and rebels. Together the crew attempt to fufill the Orian's dream.

Engagingly written, but lacking in depth, even Macdonald's losses barely register and his sidekick adds nothing at all to the story. The Orain is far less memorable than Taren, and also lacking in any of the complexity of planning, coming across as moody rather than understanding of cultural differences.

Not bad but there are better hiveminds out there. ( )
  reading_fox | Apr 5, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is book 2 of a series of which I have not read book 1. That was a mistake. Bottom line: if you have not read book 1 of the Empire of the Kaz, don't start here.

I was excited to win this from LibraryThing because I love cats and sf and especially cat sf. But the alien Oriani aren't really cats. They are neither the sweet kitties of Crisis on Stardust Station who are real Earth cats, nor are they the glorious lion-like aliens of The Pride of Chanur, who behave like Earth lions and also sort of like people. The Oriani are evil. The Kaz made war on them because they are evil baby killers. At the beginning of this book, their species is justly on the brink of extinction. I wanted cats, but what I got was aliens with weird cultural rules that take away everyone's agency and make everyone unwilling to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done, in the first chapter, followed by the usual cantinas-and-fast-ships stuff that's just boring after the 500th example.

I thought I was following the plot well enough in the first chapter. Ayyah and her people the Oriani live on a poor substitute planet which they can't leave because their ship is a wreck and they aren't reproducing their population. And in the second chapter we meet some humans, who are more relatable. But I didn't connect emotionally with the cat characters. Later I realized that was because Ayyah might be the main character but she isn't the hero. The bugs, the "Kaz," against whom Ayyah and her human ally MacDonald are rebelling, are actually the good guys. The Kaz are the ones taking a moral stand. The cat aliens are evil murderers and the bugs are good, and that's not what I wanted.

The cat aliens are not even cat-like except in that they have fur, isolate themselves when feeling ill, and don't really like to be around other members of their own species kind of like some small wildcats. Their evil is very un-catlike. The Oriani are horrified by the idea of eating meat but routinely murder their own newborns. Real cats form loving maternal bonds with their kittens. That's a fundamental part of what cats are.

I didn't finish the book. I hesitated on whether to review it at all because I didn't read the ending, but I'm obligated to write a review because I received a review copy. Honestly I hated this book so much I considered quitting LibraryThing so I wouldn't have to finish reading it. In the end I decided not to try to make myself finish this awful thing and to go ahead and review it based on the half I did read.

I imagine that people who read book 1 might actually like this, though. Presumably those who read book 1 already got emotionally attached to the characters and understand the milieu. ( )
  erinlale | Apr 5, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
There IS a cat in the book, named "Cat". That's great. The story revolves around Ayyah, a character from Orion, on a suicidal mission that is hard for many to understand; sometimes it appears that even SHE doesn't understand. There is a lot of interplay between the different alien species and how they culturally behave, which is a major factor in how the whole story works. I have read book one of the series, which is totally optional for reading or enjoying this book. I immensely enjoyed this book. I cannot say more because of spoilers. The story moves on, not too slowly, not too quickly, and I find myself anxiously anticipating what will happen next. ( )
  lam32767 | Apr 2, 2017 |
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