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The Sunset Warrior by Eric Van Lustbader
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The Sunset Warrior (1977)

by Eric Van Lustbader

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Sunset Warrior Cycle (1)

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337332,652 (3.38)7
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  1. 20
    THX 1138 by Ben Bova (jseger9000)
    jseger9000: Both books deal with a rebel living in a post-apocalyptic underground society. Beyond that, the stories are quite different.
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...in such beginnings, endings are held

'Ronin was dying.' The opening lines. Perhaps not Ronin himself but certainly the way of life in Freehold is in its death throes. The code is under attack. War is coming and with it a breakdown of the old traditions and a replacing with new. Factions are jockeying into key positions. Who is the enemy?
Science and a reason versus mages and magic as Ronin, an unaligned Bladesman is drawn into the secrets of Freehold, its post apocalyptic beginnings and it's failing, the secrets of its
beginnings and the consequences for its future. The descriptive aspects of Freehold and the outside are fulsome and alive. Unfortunately the storyline itself just did not pull me in as I wanted it to.

A NetGalley ARC ( )
  eyes.2c | Mar 25, 2014 |
Set underground in a post-apocalyptic world that has become loosely modeled on a combination of feudal Japan and traditional Chinese court intrigue, Sunset Warrior was interesting as speculative fiction, but a disappointment in terms of a martial arts novel. Written in the late 1970’s, Lustbader follows the predictions of the time and suggests a nuclear winter, rather than global warming, as the result of a nuclear holocaust, forcing humankind to abandon the frozen surface, although the exact cause of the climate change is never actually brought to light.

There were many problems with this book, most revolving around gaps in character development. This is subtitled and being the first of a series, so maybe more of the backstory will surface in the future. There are also some major logic problems with the story. The most glaring of these, forgive the pun, involve humankind living underground and yet there are references to dawn, night, and angled shadows, none of which are possible without a single point source of light. I also had a philosophic problem with class strata and living and working assignments. If the most severe weather is at the surface and the machinery at the bottom of the living environment, why are the highest classes living closest to the frozen surface? Logically, the prime real estate would be somewhere midlevel, far enough removed from the danger and noise of the working machinery and far enough below the frozen wasteland to be the most comfortable.

The Chung Kuo series by David Wingrove, while ponderous in its own right, is a much better series and example of what happens to humankind when forced to live in a closed environment. Because there are better examples for this genre and there were more problems that I’ve gone into above, I am not a huge fan of this book. In its favor, the action does move the plot along and the final twist was not expected. Despite this combination, I would have to rate this book as subpar and go with only two and a half stars. ( )
  PghDragonMan | Nov 4, 2013 |
I had quit reading fantasy a while ago and decided to try and read through a trilogy, just to see how it goes. The Sunset Warrior trilogy looked promising. The combination of a post apocalyptic world and swords and sorcery sounded fun and completely unlike the traditional, cookie-cutter Tolkien-clones that make up too much fantasy.

The world is interesting: In a futuristic underground shelter known as Freehold, the last remnants of humanity huddle. At an unspecified time in the past an unexplained catastrophe has made the planet uninhabitable. Freehold has organized itself in a fashion similar to feudal Japan. Bladesmen (samurais) serve their Saardin (shoguns). There are rumblings of an upcoming confrontation between different factions of Saardin.

The hero, Ronin is a Bladesman that serves no master. He stumbles across a man with a secret. A man who has been tortured by one of the most powerful of the Saardin. His knowledge is dangerous. Several Saardin are willing to kill to possess his knowledge (or to cover it up).

Sounds promising, no? But I had real trouble connecting to the book. The writing just seemed murky and opaque a lot of the time. The world was very interesting, but key concepts seemed to be unexplained or under explained. How (and why) can Ronin serve no master? He essentially has no job. How does he earn his keep? Also, the narration itself is sometimes fuzzy and unclear. At one point, the characters explore the ruins of a city. I believe the city was underground, but the writing was very unspecific. The writer kept mentioning that the narrow alleys blocked the illumination from above. What illumination would there be?

On the plus side, Van Lustbader did a very good job in explaining Freehold. Through the book, details are worked in to the narration showing us that the colony is falling apart and the inhabitants lack the knowledge needed to keep things running. He does this very smoothly, never beating the reader over the head with it.

The characters aren't handled nearly as well. They weren't even two-dimensional. They all felt like chess pieces the author was moving around to advance his plot. Ronin, the star of the book, had no personality to speak of. The character with the most depth was The Salamander and he was just a stereotype of the effete master bad guy. And naming the character Ronin was a little too cute and obvious for me (a ronin is a samurai who serves no master).

I'd set out determined to read the entire trilogy and I probably still will. The shocking ending practically demands it. But I won't be reading the books back-to-back. Though the story is interesting, the writing was just too much to put up with for a long stretch of time. ( )
  jseger9000 | Apr 22, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eric Van Lustbaderprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Maitz, DonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Beneath the ice-locked surface of the planet, Freehold is ruled by the sword. In the subterranean darkness the old order crumbles as the life-giving machines of the ancients stop. Only one man - rebel and lover of K'reen - can save the planet.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345466780, Paperback)

Ronin called no man master.
He was the finest swordsman of the Freehold, as sharp and deadly as his blade. Yet as the ancient city faltered, Ronin alone refused to pledge himself to any of the powerful Saardin who ruled the crumbling underground world of levels.
But now dark magic was loose in the world. As the ravings of the Magic Man foretold doom, Ronin and his lover, the sensual K'reen, were swept into a maelstrom of treachery, violence, and sudden death.
Their only hope lay in the lost scroll of the Ancients. And the desperate search led Ronin down into the very bowels of the earth, and up again, to the barrier of Freehold, where the endless ice began . . . .

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:32 -0400)

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