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    Review of ALECTOR'S CHOICE by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (see his website)


    Tor, June 2005

    The Alectors have nearly exhausted the life force in their primary world and are desperately trying to ready a new world for the translation to homeland. To succeed, they need to increase the life-mass on a formerly cold and barren planet. But the locals (not really native since they were set there by the Alectors) have their own priorities and will violate the ecological rules for money, whenever they get the chance. To prevent a possible revolt in a remote island, Alector Colonel Dainyl, and a battalion of Cadmian mounted rifles, including Captain Mykel are sent to observe and put down any troubles.

    It doesn't take long for Dainyl to realize that the troubles could only have been caused by high-ranking Alectors. The locals have too many weapons, and the commanding major seems to have a magical block that prevents him from acting intelligently. Incompetence by the Cadmians, mixed with irrational beliefs by the locals results in the very revolt that Dainyl had hoped to avoid--and just when Dainyl had been called back to headquarters for training and debriefing.

    With Dainyl, the flying pteridons, and the power weapons gone, the rebellion seems to stand every chance of succeeding. But Captain Mykel develops a talent-supported ability to hunt down and kill rebels. While his moral sensibilities are offended, and the development of his talent puts him in danger from his supposed Alector allies, he continues to pursue the rebels, wiping out company after company of poorly trained dragoons with his own slowly depleting company.

    With ALECTOR'S CHOICE, author L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (see more reviews of novels by Modesitt) takes a straightforward military approach, sending Mykel after hundreds of swarming rebels while Dainyl attempts to determine who might be behind the rebellion--and their motives. Unfortunately for the reader, Dainyl never quite succeeds in determining motive, and Mykel's cold-blooded hunting down and killing of rebels gets a bit repetitious after a while, even though both Dainyl and Mykel are sympathetic characters.

    Modesitt is at his best when he develops characters we really care about, places them in extreme danger, and has them grow, discovering both power and self-knowledge that keeps them alive. The military side of ALECTOR'S CHOICE consumes so much of the story's energy that I fear Modesitt short-changed the characters.

    While ALECTOR'S CHOICE falls short of the very best of Modesitt's work, it is nevertheless an entertaining story--and a fascinating look at world-building, both from the standpoing of the science fiction reader, and from the standpoint of the Alectors as they attempt to create a new world from the frozen beginnings of a planet.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 8/19/05

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