Sunday, 29 December 2013

The Last Praetorian

The Last Praetorian

By Mike Smith


2 out of 5

Synopsis
Commander Jonathan Radec is a man desperately trying to escape from the mistakes of his past.

Now the owner of Vanguard Shipping, his primary concerns are trying to keep his ships flying and his crew alive. However, the shadowy Syndicate organisation has set their sights on the Commander and his business, having sent a beautiful assassin to kill him. To make matters worse, she’s become the target of his infatuation, much to the dismay of his ex-girlfriend. Recently elevated to President of the Confederation, she’s still very much in love with him and capable of making his life a living hell.

Surrounded by a galaxy beginning to tear itself apart, with enemies on all sides, he’s now also unwillingly tasked with trying to save the Confederation – for which he has little regard. Jon has little going in his favour, except a crew consisting of the elite of the old Imperial Navy, all of whom would fight to the death for him, and a past that possibly makes him one of the most dangerous men alive.

The Last Praetorian is a Science Fiction adventure/romance, which tries to answer the question: “Can you ever find redemption for the mistakes of your past?”


Review
A timeless story of honour, betrayal, love and life. Set nearly a thousand years in the future, the human race has spread across the galaxy, setting up colonies on any habitable planets. Most of which have joined The Imperium (a.k.a. The Empire) for peace and security.
The Praetorians are elite soldiers that protect the Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Out of these, one is a young commander that can make enemies turn and flee at the mere mention of his name - Commander Jonathan Radec.
This story follows Jon as he is betrayed, and the Praetorians destroyed. The Imperium is on it's knees, and only he can save it.

I'm going to start with the bad stuff with this review.
As you read this story, you are inundated with... not so much deja vu, as downright copycat-ism. It starts with the Gladiator plot, right down to the name of the Emperor. Jon is the favoured Commander of the Imperium army, but they are betrayed and Jon is on the run.
Switch to a bit of Star Wars, as Jon rescues the feisty Princess Sofia, and the pilot and the Princess clash and argue as a spark of romance gradually builds.
I'm sure there were a few others mixed in too, but those were the main two that screamed out and distracted me from the actual story.

The story itself switches from "5 years ago" to "present day". Which was annoying for two reasons: 1) they are both points in the future, so how can one be seen as 5 years ago, and the other picked as present day.
2) I lost track of the two stories that were being told, and it was confusing when something was mentioned (in a way that assumes we already know the facts and details) in the Present story, before it played out in the 5 year story.
It felt like the writer had written these two stories, and simply dished it out one chapter here, one chapter there, without working out how they could help and build upon each other.
As it was, I didn't really understand how or why Jon and Sofia went their separate ways, before she was back and interrupting his next blossoming romance.

The characters were all ok, apart from Jon.
Or to put it more confusingly, Jon was ok, but everyone else made him a dick. How many times did we have to be told that he was absolutely amazing? How many times were we told that he was a fantastic pilot? An exceptional lover? The best-looking guy and swoon-worthy? Bleurgh, I lost count of the bloody times. The funny thing was, if the author had left all of that crap out, Jon would have been all of the above because of his actions. Instead, I'm left with a bitter taste.


The good stuff... yes, there were good things about this book. There were moments when I really enjoyed the story, the interaction between Jon and Sofia, the adventures, Jon's family. His friends in the Vanguard Shipping were pretty cool.
It was frustrating, I felt that if the author had been a little more original in the beginning, he could have written a bloody good book - the talent is there.
Plus, I felt he was trying to cram 2 stories into one, I would have preferred it laid out chronologically.

I'm torn as to whether I would read the rest of the trilogy.