3 out of 4 stars
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Sent to watch by David Lebenstein is a science fiction story about multi-planetary travel by emissaries from a confederation of multiple alien planets to collect intelligence on other civilizations' technological and cultural advancement. Set on the backdrop of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, two agents fresh from the battle are summoned for routine. Under different aliases, agents from the interplanetary commission are sent to collect information on the progress of the different nation states that populate respective planets.
The story revolves around the experience of one agent, Svavapas, who is assigned to England under the alias of a teacher of mathematics at the Royal Military College after his heroics in the Battle of Waterloo. He works in tandem with another agent, Vlaytork, for whom he develops romantic feelings, but his love is unrequited due to her heart belonging to a different agent. However, they eventually become coupled up and have a child, which is contrary to the policy of the confederation. The confederation discovers a belligerent interstellar empire that has subjugated the planets around it and is actively expanding in the confederation's direction.
I enjoyed many aspects of the book, especially how the story was enshrined in factual historical contexts, such as the events surrounding Napoleon's defeat. Moreover, the author paints a picture of the political schism that existed between the Protestants and Catholics. This gave me information on the representation of the historical and cultural injustices that disenfranchised the Irish under the rule of English Protestants. Aside from the historical context, such as the Battle of Waterloo, the book gives some science fiction that, though not practical, is theoretically possible. For example, concepts such as determining the essence of forthcoming events through probabilistic simulations into the future are theoretically possible though not yet practical. Additionally, the creation of artificial gravity from centrifugal force formed some interesting science bits that littered the story.
There were not many negative aspects about the book; however, I found it too fast-paced as the author did not let the flow be smooth and natural. Moreover, there were occasional extra line spaces that did not contain anything. However, aside from that, I enjoyed the story as it was original and well thought out.
I enjoyed the book and accorded it a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. The concepts were original and very interesting to follow. In addition, the book is professionally edited with few errors.
I recommend this to lovers of sci-fi and historical narratives. The book provides a unique perspective of some historical contexts, such as the Battle of Waterloo and the issues that dogged the royal family of England at that particular time.
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