Saturday 11 August 2012

The World Before (The Wess'har Wars Book 3) - Karen Traviss

Title: The World Before (The Wess'har Wars Book 3)
Author: Karen Traviss
Genre: Sci-Fi
Published: 2005
Formats: Paperback/Ebook

"The World Before" by Karen Traviss is the third book in the thoroughly enjoyable Wess'har series. Due to the highly integrated nature of this series of novels it is very hard to review this book without including some spoilers in relation to previous books so I would advise you to make sure you have read those books prior to reading this review.

The story itself picks up directly from the conclusion of the previous novel, "Crossing The Line". Due to actions of a small human contingent, the peaceful Bezeri species are dieing out which forces their Wess'har protectors to look at finding a way to redress this outrage. However, when they decide to contact their home world for help they unleash a force that threatens to make all of Earth answer for the genocide.

Without doubt this novel really does have that "middle of the series" feeling in that it is more about development and setting up the characters for future events. However, I marveled at the way in which Traviss kept me hooked to the point that I devoured this book in no time at all even though it felt like nothing much was happening in regards to the progression of the overall story. I just enjoyed the way that the book really explores the different characters and various alien species to see how they react to the events of the previous novel.

The high level of complexity that Traviss has created in regards to the characters and alien species really did shine through in this novel. In particular I liked how Traviss used what had occurred at the end of the previous book to ensure she could concentrate on some of the minor characters. All the characters are becoming that little bit deeper and the reader can see the gradual changes in how they act as they review and think about what has occurred in their lives.

The only real issue I had was that Traviss once again devotes a fair amount of the novel to denigrating humanity. Don't get me wrong, I am more than happy to follow a novel that doesn't use the rather predictable heroic humans to the rescue scenario but I do think that Traviss really does go a little bit too far the other way. The alien species also have some faults which come to the fore in this novel but the focus still seems to be on explaining why humanity basically sucks.

One good thing that this focus on the actions of humanity resulted in was some really interesting and entertaining debates between humans and aliens over issues such as morality, culpability, relationships and punishment. They were thoroughly enjoyable although they did get a little bit repetitive by the end of the novel as the same arguments would occur multiple times with the same feelings and information being utilized.

Overall, this was another enjoyable installment in the Wess'har series with this novel really coming across as being a transition piece. Whilst some people may dislike the lack of real action, the real power behind this novel and series as a whole are the excellent and varied characters that grow and change as the story progresses. I am really looking forward to picking up the next novel and am still happy to highly recommend this series to people looking for a different view point of humanity in the future.

Available at:
The Book Depository
Amazon UK


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