Reviews: Troy Rising

Subtly: The book!

Troy Rising the good, the bad, and the speechifying.

The good, the technology is interesting and the premise is creative. The bad, John Ringo loves him some infodumps. Lots and lots of them. Also he loves useless acronyms. VSA, BDA, SAPL, all are used and all mean the same thing, a big honking beam of light. The speechifying don't bother reading the series if you either 1) don't agree with Ringo's views, or 2) can't ignore the barrage of politics. The first book is worst about this and it mellows considerably by the third. The first book is so unsubtle about Ringo's person views that I came to the realization that Battlefield Earth was less overt about the Author Filibuster. That's a sad statement. Ringo does best when he has a co-author to reign in his proselytizing.

The method of dealing with alien threats is interesting, but the aliens are morons. The creation of Troy is really clever, the main character fades into the background and gets less obnoxious. The first book is just the weak link which is a shame because it's the world building book. Talk about Briar Patching all you like, but book one Tyler Vernon is a dick. A colossal smug dick who credits his rise to mega wealth to hard work and "a little luck" which is the hardest thing in the entire series to swallow. Apparently someone told Ringo this though because by book three Vernon tacitly admits that his rise to wealthy enough to own several planetoids was pure luck.

Whoever the editor was on the first book needs to be fired because it's poisonous to the rest of the series.

Troy Rising: Mixed Bag

Troy Rising is a series that has two goals. The first goal is to show an accurate portrayal of how a first contact with an alien race would go. The second is to flesh out the story of First Contact in the webcomic Schlock Mercenary.

In and of itself, it manages both of these goals pretty well. It shows how Earth throws off the Horvath, beats the Rangora, and establishes itself as a first-rate power extremely quickly with out-of-the-box thinking, Sci-Fi ideas, and trillions of tons of nickel-iron propelled by an Orion Drive. It stays within the setting, and doesn't pull random deus ex machinas out of nowhere.

Unfortunately, what may turn you off of the series is the author himself. He tends to stick his views into everything, from his opinions on how he doesn't like cities, to the current (Obama) administration, to South Americans, and even on other Science Fiction series. Yes, there's lots of stuff blowing up and ingenuity, but at the same time it kind of gets derailed a lot by a sudden analysis of tax code and bureaucracy, or on Ringo's views of the mainstream media. Even if you support his views, he tends to make those who agree with these viewpoints in the story appear to be reasonable, rational people, while making those who disagree with him look like foolish children. This tends to make the characters come across as somewhat arrogant, and makes them less likable.

On the other hand, when the story is actually going on, it's not bad, as long as you like infodumps. Which I do. But even then it can get a little on the heavy side, leaving only about a hundred pages (maximum) for actual story, once you cut out the infodumps and the Author Tracts.

Unfortunately, both of these flaws are major staples of Ringo's writing style, so if you're not a fan of this series, you probably won't like his other series that much either.

In short, while the books have decent plot and some cool ideas (solar-powered lasers for the win!), they aren't good enough to really stand on their own. If you like Schlock Mercenary, which this is based off of, you might try giving it a read, but the writing is just a little too clumsy and self-centered for me to recommend it.

Tl;Dr: It's not really worth it. Cool idea, poor execution, too much Author filibustering.