Official Review: Masters and Bastards

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Official Review: Masters and Bastards

Post by CataclysmicKnight » 21 Oct 2019, 13:01

[Following is an official review of "Masters and Bastards" by Christopher J. Penington.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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I rarely pick up fantasy or sci-fi novels over 200 pages long. Fantasy and sci-fi are my favorite genres, but so many people write them so badly that I'm often stuck reading something I hate for days just to get closure. That makes good books in these genres even more special, including Masters and Bastards by Christopher J. Penington.

Masters and Bastards blends both fantasy and sci-fi by taking place in another galaxy after the Earth was destroyed. There, two planets are at war with one another while an alien invasion is on its way. Andreas Marset, the hero of the novel, is a military man in the Iberian army. Unfortunately, not only is he a bastard, he's an Arpathian: a race that's considered beneath the Iberians who rule the planet of Poltervalt. All of these people are human, but their racial differences cause a massive divide: Arpathians aren't allowed access to the same level of technology, aren't allowed to vote, can't access higher ranks of the military no matter how heroic they are, and can be beaten to death by angry groups of Iberians merely for talking to an Iberian woman.

Despite Andreas' race, there's something majorly different about him: he's a psionipath. He also has no idea how strong his powers are, nor does he know why he's a pawn in a growing number of plans and conspiracies. As the number of mysteries, conflicts, and enemies increases around him, Andreas must learn who he can trust and how to defeat seemingly indomitable foes while dealing with his place in the world.

Masters and Bastards is exceptional from the first page. The tension picks up immediately followed by a freefall into a well-crafted universe. There are layers to every plot, the characters are all deep, there's solid, realistic character growth, and I felt like I was right there with Andreas all along. There are depths to the politics, the settings, the relationships, and the technology used. There are twists and turns throughout, and the twists and turns often had twists and turns of their own! Andreas deals with enemy humans, aliens, and even dinosaurs, all while feeling the weight of every decision and action he carries out.

One of my favorite parts of the book, though, was actually a tactic the author carried out. There are numerous "big moments" throughout the book, moments that are heavily discussed and planned out in advance. Typically in a book or movie, the only way to keep these scenes interesting is if the action that follows the planning is somehow entirely different from what was planned. If not, you're essentially seeing exactly what you'd heard in the planning beforehand. Christopher avoids this by recapping these big moments instead of playing them out. Don't get me wrong, the planning is intense and I never once felt robbed of any action, especially since these big moments are followed up by other moments that are just as action-packed and tense. The battles are huge, and while each one could potentially be the end of Andreas, they could also easily be the end of life as everyone knows it. Each fight is also very different, not only because of the enemies and assets involved but because of Andreas' level of experience. At first, he's a lowly grunt who has never seen action, but as the book goes on he becomes a battle-hardened master of war.

The moments outside of war and planning are often just as tense. Andreas rarely knows who to trust, and any wrong move could be his last. In a world with numerous enemies, psionipaths who can read minds and change their faces, and alliances as sturdy as amateur card houses, Andreas finds himself walking dangerous paths everywhere he goes. The fact that no one ever wants to give him a straight answer about anything doesn't help either; Andreas doesn't know who his parents are or why so many people are so interested in him.

The only negative thing about Masters and Bastards is the number of errors I came across. I found a total of 26 grammatical errors. While this isn't too shabby considering the book is over 400 pages long, it's too many to allow me to give the book a perfect rating. With that said, it's easy for me to give Masters and Bastards 3 out of 4 stars. I never wanted to put it down, and I was pleased to discover that this is a complete book. While Christopher mentioned that he wants to set additional stories around the worlds he's created in this book, this book has a solid beginning, middle, and end. There are no unresolved plots left for another book, and there was no final chapter that opens up an entirely new story for "next time." Adults and older teenagers who enjoy deep sci-fi stories without being confusing should love Masters and Bastards. While the book has profanity and some semi-explicit sex scenes, none of it is gratuitous.

Masters and Bastards
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Post by Nisha Ward » 23 Oct 2019, 15:13

You have to hand it to the author, just from this brief look it seems like he's got an entire society fleshed out in the book. I like the little touch of the restrictions on Aparthians because it limits what our hero can do given his rather interesting power, meaning he has to get creative in his quest to find the truth and survive.
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Post by Pearl Hijabi » 24 Oct 2019, 15:20

The author is truly creative I believe. He has fleshed out an entire world and as you say the characters are deep and we'll developed. The name itself made me curious to know the story. And the with restrictions towards the hero makes the story spice up more. Loved your review.

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Post by esp1975 » 29 Oct 2019, 18:25

I do love a good military science fiction novel. And, like you, love even more that this is a complete book all on it's own. I will definitely have to keep an eye out for it.

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Latest Review: Masters and Bastards by Christopher J. Penington

Post by LeDiplomatique » 30 Oct 2019, 00:46

I love your review. I had chosen it for review and ended up with 'The Hand Bringer', a real masterpiece. I hope to get the opportunity to review Masters and Bastards next time.

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Post by Sunflower_Mom » 30 Oct 2019, 17:59

I'm wondering, do the "Arpathian" people have a different skin color than the "Iberian" race? Or is there another obvious difference? If yes, the problems are similar to the "race relations" in the United States. Our treatment of Blacks is better than in the 1960's but we still have a long way to go! A differing language might be compared to how the US Border Patrol folks are currently treating the Hispanic immigrants!

If there is no "obvious difference", how do they tell each other apart?

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Post by SHALLU RAWAL » 31 Oct 2019, 09:39

It's a great review which convince me to read it. It's been a while since I read fiction story. I will definitely read it.
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Post by Jimi Adewole » 06 Nov 2019, 08:56

Your review is very exciting indeed. To be frank, the blurb on the book didn't really excite me. But you make it sound as though this is something I should be reading. I would like to see the Aparthians for myself. Thank you.
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Post by Jimi Adewole » 07 Nov 2019, 09:18

LeDiplomatique wrote:
30 Oct 2019, 00:46
I love your review. I had chosen it for review and ended up with 'The Hand Bringer', a real masterpiece. I hope to get the opportunity to review Masters and Bastards next time.
This happened to me as well, but that issue has been corrected. I'm reviewing it now.
Experience is a harsh tutor for she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards. - Vernon Law

You might as well read about it in a book.

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Post by LauraLeeWasHere » 08 Nov 2019, 07:48

What I very much appreciated is that you began your review by describing your general feelings and opinions about this type of book and genre. Letting us know where you stand allows us to appreciate more completely your opinion.

Then to let us know this book was complete and stand alone and quite lengthy gave me just as much to hang my choice on as the plot description itself. So often a sci-fi fantasy is just setting you up as merely part of a series. And "long" often means a great deal of meandering to describe a place and way of life different to the way we live. I like things to be described through action, not just a sentence stuffed full of as many adjectives as possible. That seems an excellent way to describe your review; "description through action".

Thank you for all your help and another great review from the knight of nuances and king of coherence.

Sincerely, LLR
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