Ossus Library Index
Science Fiction Index


A novel by Margaret Weis and Don Perrin
(1998, ROC Science Fiction)

Mag Force 7, book 3

The team is set to cause revolution on a planet, while Xris blackmailed into jail-breaking the people who murdered his partner years earlier.


-- First reading (paperback)
July 23rd to 29th, 2001


A couple of nice chapters didn't make up for the monotonous nature of the rest of this book. Normally I enjoy schemes within schemes, but the pacing was pretty poor throughout this one. 

I hate giving books a single star, especially when they deal with characters that I like, such as in the Star Wars Universe, and Mag Force 7. Because the characters can almost hold the entire book by themselves, especially when written by capable authors. But sometimes, when I find myself flipping through pages, wondering why we seem to have stopped dead, I can't give the book my recommendation.

The first book in this series started me worrying. It was really amazing, but the ending crash landed and made things much more complicated than they had to be. The second book, which divided the plot up into two parts that were completely unrelated, was downright frustrating. Unfortunately, while the authors seemed to have picked up on the fact that Mag Force 7 was seven people before Darlene came along, they have stretched out the worst parts of both books.

There were two parts of this book that I really enjoyed, but neither lasted long enough to bring the book up as a whole. One is the character of Raoul. He is so vain and completely out of it most of the time, that he is absolutely hilarious to read about. I was actually laughing out loud at him. But his moments were all too brief, and the authors seemed to go out of their way to insert him into much more serious places, which broke the pacing of those parts. The other part I loved was where Xris gave the prison bully his comeuppance. I always love it when the bully is given a taste of his own medicine. But it only appeared in three scenes, and two of those were pretty much wasted. The first one, however, where Xris refuses to give to the "shoe charity", was terrific.

The basic plot concludes the setup from the last two books. The criminal organization known as The Hung (thus the title) finally wants to get out of prison, where Dalin Rowan (now Darlene) put them years ago through his undercover work. In a twisted manipulation, Xris' boss places him under arrest (for murdering Rowan in previous books) and orders him to get the Hung out of there. As is explained at the end, Amandi (Xris' boss) had the bully and the warden in place before Xris got there, and wanted to get the Hung out so they could verify his suspicions about a secret bank account. Of course, Xris thinks Amandi is the Hung secret agent, when he is not, and so hates the man, which actually plays to his advantage (Amandi's boss, Robinson, whom everybody trusted, was the Hung agent, at the very top of internal affairs!). Xris gains the confidence of the Hung leaders through beating up the bully and getting placed in solitary confinement, and eventually gets the men out of prison. The antics inside the prison were the ones I looked forward to most, but my anticipation was almost always let down. Xris is an interesting character, but not when he's being introspective. He is much more interesting when he is doing stuff.

The rest of the team is off doing a mission for which Xris was hired before he was arrested. The planet Del Sol was run by a dictator, who, it turns out, worked for the Hung. The big revelation at the end, that the secret Hung bank account, with trillions of dollars in it, was on Del Sol, was figured out much earlier than it was revealed in the text. The dremecks are pacifist aliens who want to rebel against their human dictator, so Jamil and the others try to train them as an army, but they won't kill anything -even vegetables (which I think is supposed to be humourous). So he gets frustrated, but ends up training them to pretend they are an army, and so they take over the planetary vid station in the capital (the only human city, I believe), and broadcast images of dremecks lining the streets, taking over strategic points. 

Thanks to Raoul, the video star Rusty Love (a former love slave), who looks quite a bit like the dictator Kirkov, trades places with the dictator through a scheme involving Raoul pretending to be a cook. The plan is technical, but plausible, I suppose. But it didn't interest me in the slightest. As a side note, they are successful, as Love, playing Kirkov, resigns the government over to the dremecks. As Harry pilots Xris and the Hung leaders into Del Sol orbit, they are surprised to hear about the revolution, and Harry, after making an unlikely acting job, ejects the Hung to be blown up by the planetary defense system. 

Around the action was scattered historical details, that seemed like filler instead of storytelling. Why couldn't we have learned about the historical details from the characters instead of taking a break from the story to read a lecture? This drove me nuts. It was written in a bemused style, as if the authors really wanted us to laugh at it. It would have been funnier if it could be broken down into smaller bits and given to various characters, I think. 

Harry also drove me nuts. In the other books where we've seen him, he's been dumb, slow, and not very swift (are those all the same?), but never as much as here. He is constantly putting his foot in his mouth, constantly taking the wrong hints, and just totally being an idiot, all the way through. He was just annoying to read about. Especially at the end, where he plays a whimpering fool, then, after the Hung leaders go in search of a lifepod, straightens up and tells Xris to get out of the way so he can retake control of the ship. The best part Harry was in revolved around him visiting Xris' trial, but we unfortunately had to listen to the dumb thoughts the writers decided to put into his head.

The other characters didn't have much to do. Why did they bring in Tycho's little brother? He wasn't much use, and it was much too abrupt. The explanation he provided for his appearance and his name (also Tycho) took way too long, and interrupted another scene which had its own momentum. They also introduced an agent who was Talasian, which means she had trouble controlling an energy force around her, especially when she was worried or nervous. The only good thing that came from this was Raoul's reaction when she broke a Ming dynasty vase. 

Quong and Little One didn't do much. Raoul, as usual, was characterized best. Whether he is being strangled by a mannequin (he might as well die now, because he has developed a fear of shopping!), pining after the alleged pool cleaner, or tasting the food, he was really funny. But as I said, his comments were also injected into more serious moments, which ruined the pace of those moments, and seemed there just for the sake of being there.

And as a sappy final moment, almost an oversight, Xris and his estranged wife finally get together again. It appeared for a while that Xris was Hung Out to dry, but it wasn't really what it seemed to be.

While the book wasn't really bad, and had its share of good moments, I still didn't find it worth my time. This is one I won't be picking up again. If only I could have all the Raoul moments removed from the trilogy and placed in one book!


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