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Prophets by S. Andrew Swann
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1055172,575 (3.39)5



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Showing 5 of 5
S. Andrew Swann had me hooked before the last page of the prologue to Prophets. Mallory is a priest and former marine living a quiet life teaching at a university. Nicolai is outcast royalty, alone and disgraced on the anarchic world of Bakunin. Flynn is a societal reject because of his choice not to accept his culture’s norms. Tetsami is the ancestor that lives in Flynn’s mind. Parvi is the pilot and mercenary who is increasingly the pawn of events beyond her control. And all of them are about to find themselves at the mercy of a power greater than stars.

Prophets takes place in the twenty-fifth century, a time when man has reached the stars, made contact with alien civilizations, and already survived both an interstellar war with some of those civilizations and civil war with itself. The Confederacy, the one government that held humanity’s far flung planets together, has collapsed and divided into factions, some along secular lines, some aligned with the Vatican, and some a part of the Islamic Caliphate.

A balance exists between the worlds of the Caliphate and all others. But when shadowy forces start moving on the fringes of civilized space, speaking of lost human colonies and astral anomalies, everyone must race to be the first to arrive, to lay hold of what might tip the balance of power in their direction.

Swann spins a tale that is cinematic in vision and has echoes of Dan Simmons’ Hyperion series. He fills the story—equally mystery, cloak and dagger, political intrigue, and science-fiction—with characters that are mercenaries, scientists, priests, A.I.s, aliens, spies, saboteurs, and mutants. And there are also, of course, lots of space ships with faster-than-light travel drives (what would space opera be without that?). Almost none of the characters are clearly hero or villain, and each is a well drawn composite of traits that are likeable and flawed. Their interactions are unpredictable and gripping, each pulled by the plot in ways neither they, nor the reader, expects. By writing his characters credibly, and not balking at their pain or suffering, Swann creates a story that is both enjoyable and that the reader cares about.

Unlike many scifi and fantasy authors today, Swann is willing to tell the story in under five hundred pages. The length keeps the story alive, stopping on characters just long enough to paint a portrait of their history and relationship to the plot, then moving along again. Chapters cut to the chase, inserting the reader as far into the action as possible, then leaving them right at the point of greatest impact. The result is a page-turner that demands to be finished.

I have a bad habit of parachuting into authors worlds mid-series, and while Prophets is definitely the first in the Apotheosis series, it is the third series that Swann has written in the so-called “Moreau” universe. The first two—the Moreau series and the Hostile Takeover Trilogy—occur hundreds of years earlier than the events in Prophets. I had decided, upon picking up Prophets, that if I liked it I would go back and read the Moreau and Hostile Takeover. The good news is that I enjoyed it immensely, and as soon as I finish the Heretics and Messiah, the next two books in the series (which are both waiting on my bed stand), I’ll go hunting for the previous series. ( )
  publiusdb | Aug 22, 2013 |
I gave up on this one after 200 pages. Swann has created a setting and backstory that I simply can't believe, with human space set up in two rival territories, both run from Earth by the Roman Catholic Church and a Muslim Caliphate. I might have been able to shrug and ignore it if the plot had allowed me, but it does not. The pacing of the novel is two steps forward and one step back, as after every little piece of forward motion we are handed another infodump of Swann's imagined history. I was also very put off by the level of religion and religious superstition the reader is subjected to. AIs aren't just illegal, they are evil. We have a non-human character who rarely stops thinking about the sins of humanity, for they are the Fallen. And so on. I think there could have been an interesting plot buried somewhere underneath the atmosphere of superstition and highly unbelievable infodumps, but I am not patient enough to dig it out. ( )
  gailo | Dec 15, 2012 |
This novel has just about everything I want in a space opera: lost colonies, political intrigues (here the Caliphate and Roman Catholic Church vying for control and influence in the worlds of human space - a space that includes the human/animal chimeras called moreaus), vividly described violence, forbidden technologies (genetic engineering of humans, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence), espionage, and subversion.

Swann's style strikes just the right balance with his physical descriptions - cinematic but not too long to slow the plot down. And I liked every chapter having an epigraph from sources historical and fictitious. This is a continuation of Swann's work in his moreau/Confederation universe and is chronologically the latest story but don't worry. Swann provides enough background explication so that, if you've never read the Moreau series or the Hostile Takeover trilogy - or, like me, it's just been a long time since you read them, you won't be lost.

Actually this novel reminded me a lot of a stripped down version of Peter Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga: a human political order with its internecine squabbles is threatened by an invading force willing to do anything to alter that order. However, Swann's universe is never as utopian as Hamilton's world. ( )
  RandyStafford | Feb 24, 2012 |
An interesting story ruined by overtly religous themes. While many books have covert religous themes in them, this book has it as the main plot driver. Most of the characters are devoutly religious (whatever their religion happens to be) and their actions are driven either by the guilt leveled on them from their religions due to what they've done or their hatred for the 'other' that dominates all religions. In this case, the 'other' is genetically modified people, artificial intelligence and anyone not of their religion and it becomes tedious reading all that angst every time a character has to do something.
This is the first book in this universe that I've read and it will be the last. ( )
  bj | Jan 11, 2012 |
This was my first book by Mr. Swann. And I was very well pleased with the story! The mix of characters and personalities were great and the background to the universe very deep. As more of the story revealed itself, I felt the mounting pressure as each of the forces of the book approached the climax. I'll definitely be reading the remainder of the trilogy. ( )
  geordicalrissian | Mar 9, 2010 |
Showing 5 of 5
There are some smart ideas and fun action scenes in Prophets, but I can only give it a lukewarm recommendation. At about 350 pages, this first of a trilogy feels too long. Granted, Swann has a lot to introduce especially to readers unfamiliar to the adventures he's written in this universe. I couldn't help feeling there were many passages that were padded out or repetitive. This pacing may be affecting the characterizations as well.
added by PhoenixTerran | editio9, Chris Hsiang (Mar 10, 2009)
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This is for Michelle, for putting up with all my crap.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0756405416, Mass Market Paperback)

It’s been nearly 200 years since the collapse of the Confederacy, the last government to claim humanity’s colonies. So when signals come in revealing lost human colonies that could shift the power balance, the race is on between the Caliphate ships and a small team of scientists and mercenarys. But what awaits them all is a threat far beyond the scope of any human government.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:52 -0400)

Almost two centuries after the collapse of the Confederacy, strange transmissions, from beyond the limit's of human space, start arriving. These transmission announce the existance of human settlements forgotten about after the collapse. Various powers race to settlements to claim them, but when they arrive they find a threat beyond what they could have imagined… (more)

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