The Fortress in Orion by Mike Resnick

ResnickFortressInOrionWhere I Got It: Review copy via the publisher (thanks!).

Publisher: Audible Studios (2014)

Narrator: Christian Rummel

Length: 7 hours 32 minutes

Series: Book 1 Dead Enders

Author’s Page

Nathan Pretorius recently finished a mission that left him missing body parts, which have recently been vat-grown and replaced. While he is still in the hospital, his old friend asks him to take on a near-impossible mission. He agrees, provided he gets to pick his own team. Pretorious and his team must replace an alien Traanskei ruler, Michkag, with a clone. This clone Michkag will help steer the Traanskei Coalition towards peace with the Democracy. The chances of survival and success are both quite small.

This was a quick read containing much of the tropes military scifi is known for. It was fast paced and had interesting characters, who were a bit predictable, but never the less easy to connect with. The author doesn’t spend much time developing alien cultures or delving into the history of his heroes. The mission is laid out, the characters set in place, so just sit back and enjoy the ride!

I really liked that Pretorious’s team included not just 1 female, but 3. And there was none of that silly BS about justifying a female specialist or 3 on the mission. Pretorious didn’t blink at the gender of any of his team mates because he was focused on their skills. Tis refreshing in military scifi and receives 2 thumbs up from me.

Felix Ortega is basically the team’s strong man, having been mostly replaced over the years as one mission after another removed this body part or that. In essence, he is a cyborg. Pandora is super good with computers and can tap into nearly any information line or bypass most every security system. Meanwhile, Cersei uses her empathic abilities to weed out the liars. Snake is a contortionist, and tiny. She can fit into places you wouldn’t think of tucking a pet turtle into. Together, their nearly impossible mission is safely and secretly take the cloned Michkag and his teacher to a Traanskei stronghold, a fortress in Orion, and make the swap. Along the way, the pick up Proto, a strange alien with a nebulous past who can project images into another sentient being’s mind.

The set up for this story is really good and I was hooked right away. But as the story moves forward, not a lot happens. There isn’t much conflict. The few hiccups the team comes across, they deal with quickly and quietly. There was so much hype at the beginning of the book about how dangerous this mission was and then so little happens to the team. Quite frankly, I got a little bored with everything going so well.

On the other hand, Resnick has set this story in a big galaxy with plenty of room to grow. While he didn’t delve deep in the Traanskei Coalition (he did have several alien words scattered throughout the book), he set the first building blocks to do so in future installments to the series.

There was one little plot point that niggled at me through out the story. Pretorious is this seasoned secret deadly mission character. It’s not his first time to the rodeo. However, he makes a could of first-time-commanding-a-deadly-secret-mission mistakes. I felt like these were thrown in to move the story forward, but it also made it hard to believe that Pretorious was as seasoned and capable as we were told he was

It’s a fun quick listen (or read) without the need to engage your higher brain. The characters are memorable, if a bit static. The mission was fun. I look forward to seeing what else Resnick can do with this world he has created and this team he has assembled.

Narration: Christian Rummel was a good pick for this audio. Much of the narration is from Pretorious’s point of view and Rummel had an excellent, authoritative voice for him. He also performed female characters quite well. He excelled at the alien voices and the wicked, cruelly unpronounceable names some of them had. That is where his talent really shown.

What I Liked:  Mix gender team; fun mission to sit back and enjoy; memorable characters; great narration; cool cover art. 

What I Disliked: Pretorious, our seasoned veteran of secret missions, kept making rookie mistakes; after all the hype about how deadly dangerous this mission was, not much happened.

What Others Think:

Only the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy

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2 thoughts on “The Fortress in Orion by Mike Resnick”

  1. “not a lot happens” is the most frequent statement I see when reading reviews of this book. I got a review copy too, but given that every review I’ve read is consistent with this thought, I’ve not had any motivation to move it ahead of books I either know I’m going to enjoy or suspect I will. Promising cover, and I like the idea that it is a mixed team, but I may wait to see if the second novel breaks out of this mold before reading this one.

    1. Yep. I was surprised by the lack of incidents and surprises and betrayals and deaths in this novel, as the introduction to the main character made it clear how dangerous his life was.

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