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Freehold by Michael Z. Williamson
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Freehold is one of my favorite books of all time and had a strong impact on my decision to be more a libertarian.

It is the story of Kendra Pacelli who is wrongly accused of a crime on Earth and is forced to immigrate to the Libertarian utopia of Freehold.

There are basically two parts to the book. The first part is classic mellui story. The point of the story is not so much character growth and change, but to move around the setting and show the reader what it is like. This is the type of story [b:the Lord of the Rings|34|The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, Part 1)|J.R.R. Tolkien|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1156043001s/34.jpg|3204327] is. It isn't about change in Frodo, it is about making Frodo travel across Middle Earth so everyone can see all of this land.

Kendra shows us what it is like to go from a future Earth to a country where personal freedom and personal responsibility are valued most high. Freehold has almost no laws, and very very little government at all. Taxes are in the form of a small voluntary payment which entitles you to see a judge to resolve conflict. All crimes are seen as civil suits, with the accused required to make right the damages done.

Personal freedoms mean almost everyone is armed because they want to me. There are no traffic laws, but you are responsible for any accidents you cause. Drugs are totally unregulated, but you are just as responsible for anything you while under the influence as you are sober.

The Libertarian ideals extend out of government and into peoples personal life, which is reflected in the book as well. Kendra ends up in a three way relationship with both a male and a female lover. Ends up a prostitute for a night and not liking it, though it was done freely.

The second half of the book chronicles the conflict and ultimately war between Earth's government in the form of the United Nations and Freehold. At the beginning of this build up of conflict Kendra joins the Freehold military, a small but highly and practically trained force. This is the transition from melliu to war story. It is still a melliu as Kendra goes through military training, but when the war begins melliu drops to the back burner and we experience the life of a guerrilla fighter resisting an oppressive invader.

I loved the first half of the book, and like many other readers would love to see such a place exsist. I'd immigrate. The second half of the book was much harder to take as it shows you an unromantic, realistic picture of war.

The overall writing is good. The melliu is great, the story good.

I've read the first half of the book at least a dozen times in the last year. The whole book probably half that because when I get to the transition I can't stop reading. That's the sign of a really well written book to me.

And the best thing for you reader is you can read the whole thing for free online. It is part of the Baen free library.


I'd love to get my hands on a hard cover copy of this book if they exist. ( )
  rondavis | Apr 18, 2018 |
Wide-ranging, well-paced socio-military SF with a powerful heroine. Politics are school of Heinlein, which didn't bother me much but might offend some. Williamson aims at creating a substantial (depth rather than simply length) SF novel while keeping the story very readable and quite gripping. One star is lost because the socio-economic principles which form the substance of the novel are missing their underpinnings. Ideas are presented, and Williamson uses his divine powers as author to assure their success. A more serious argument, however, would have made this very entertaining novel heavy going. RAH would have been delighted by Freehold, which is a very attractive creation. The military sequences are very well written, generally fast-paced, gritty, very violent, and quite convincing. There is a significant amount of sex, but it's neither excessive nor pornographic considering the context of the social commentary. The aftermath of war, often neglected, is here treated with decent consideration, albeit with the kind of invincible hero in Naumann that reminds me of [a:Gordon R. Dickson|38631|Gordon R. Dickson|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1230054159p2/38631.jpg]'s Dorsai. Not one for readers with liberal leanings or the politically correct, but strongly recommended as entertainment for all the rest. ( )
  DavidR1958 | Jul 4, 2017 |
Take a poorly thought out Libertarian utopia, populate it with improbably good people, add some social aspects straight from the sweaty fantasies of teenage boys, array it against the Stupid Evil Welfare State of Earth, write a lot of shoot-'em-up while indulging in what appears to be a serious man-crush on Heinlein, and there you have it: summer pulp. Even if you like military science fiction, I'd probably recommend you go elsewhere. ( )
  TadAD | Jun 9, 2017 |
Since this book has a 4.01 rating on Goodreads, I started off reading it with high hopes. Especially as it’s the beginning of a series that is highly rated. And the back cover synopsis made it sound interesting. But as I got into it, I started wondering about it. A lot of minutia, but where’s the action? Much detail, but is anything going to happen? And I started wondering about the author. I read a lot of military sci fi. Even though I’m largely a liberal and many if not most military sci fi authors are conservatives, I don’t mind it because most don’t get didactic or dogmatic in preaching their political viewpoints, ie David Weber, Chris Bunch, etc. They just write good military sci fi. But occasionally you run across screamingly conservative Tea Party/Libertarian nutjobs who preach at you and who shove their fucking politics down your throat repeatedly and that drives me nuts. John Ringo’s one of those, which is why I no longer read his work. Well, apparently Michael Z. Williamson is one of these types of authors too, and surprise, he’s collaborated with Ringo! This author has a serious Libertarian bent that he shoves and shoves and it gets really old. He makes sure we know he loves Ayn Rand. He shows evil fascist Earth as the gigantic polluted, bureaucratic, militaristic, overcrowded, welfare state, big brother state, paranoid, UN dominated, global world it has become and compares it with Utopian world Freehold, where our protagonist Kendra, has escaped to from Earth. On Freehold, there is no government. There are no taxes, although people are allowed to donate if they want. Yet, “government” services exist and run well. Somehow. Magically. I’m assuming education, healthcare, fire and police services exist and are free? Public transportation? Not sure. Everyone gets jobs. The pay is decent. Everyone gets housing of some sort, not great, but not bad. And everyone packs! EVERYONE! This is to avoid rape, although there is virtually no crime on Freehold. And as the author argues, vapidly, and more importantly, in the capital city of several million, this is to protect yourself against the scary wild animals that wander into the city of SEVERAL MILLION – animals that could get to the city parks in the center and eat you. So you need to pack heat to kill them. Yep. Kendra finds out real fast that she needs a gun.

Kendra meets a new male friend on day one who is the nicest, kindest, sweetest gentleman who ever existed and acts as the dashing hero for and to her, and she soon meets a nice, sweet, beautiful woman, who happens to be both ex-military and a female “escort,” an occupation on Freehold that is looked highly upon. The three become lovers. You see, public nudity is part of the status quo on Freehold, as is bisexuality. It’s natural, even though it’s new for Kendra.

There are a number of problems with this book. For one thing, it’s too damn long. The author could have cut it in half and still made a partially decent story out of it. In line with that, nothing happens in the first 250-300 pages. Kendra spends time playing tourist, letting her new friends spoil her and engaging in sexual interplay with them. She eventually joins the military, just in time for an invasion from Earth, for no apparent reason, but that’s halfway through the book. And of course, the book is one long preachy, didactic, dogmatic, rambling discourse on the evils of liberal viewpoints and philosophy and the wonderful aspects of the great Utopian Libertian world that Williamson would have us all envision with him. Which is overly simplistic and pure fantasy.

For the life of me, I don’t see how this book merits a 4+ rating. I guess it’s all the conservative military sci fi lovers out there. Which is a little scary. Conservative military vets? Am I just generalizing? Probably. However, I’ve seen a ton of one and two star reviews complaining of the propaganda, dogma, preaching, politics, etc., so I know that I’m not the only one by far. I’m one of many. A ton of people who read military sci fi don’t want politics of any type shoved down their throats. I’m one of them. That’s not why we read this genre. We just want to read great military sci fi. Is that too much to ask? So, one star and not recommended. Also, I have the sequel and I won’t be reading it, unfortunately, because I had been looking forward to it. Oh well. ( )
1 vote scottcholstad | Jul 11, 2016 |
Sure, there's some military sci fi in here, but it's more a coming of age story, a "soldier in the making" tale. For a first novel, it's entertaining and worth some time, even if the deeply embedded libertarian agenda isn't perfectly believable. Oh, and I got bored with the sex scenes with about the second or third one. We'll call it three stars for the excellent battle scenes. ( )
  GunnarGrey | Nov 24, 2015 |
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To my parents:

We disagree on so many things, but I am who I am because of you.
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Sergeant Second Class Kendra Pacelli, UNPF, was looking forward to finally finishing the admin from her deployment to Mtali.
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"Sergeant Kendra Pacelli is innocent, but that doesn't matter to the repressive government pursuing her especially when billions of embezzled dollars earned from illegal weapons sales are at stake. But where does one run when all of Earth and most settled planets are under the aegis of one government? The Freehold of Grainne. There one may seek asylum and build a new life in a society that doesn't track its residents' every move. But now Earth's government has found out where she is and they want her back. Or dead"--

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