• Cast Under an Alien Sun

  • Destiny's Crucible, Book 1
  • By: Olan Thorensen
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
  • Length: 15 hrs and 44 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (4,854 ratings)

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Cast Under an Alien Sun

By: Olan Thorensen
Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
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Publisher's Summary

What if you were thrown into a foreign society, never to see home again? What would you do, and could you survive?

Joe Colsco boarded a flight from San Francisco to Chicago to attend a national chemistry meeting. He would never set foot on Earth again.

On planet Anyar, Joe is found unconscious on a beach of a large island inhabited by humans where the level of technology is similar to Earth circa 1700. He awakes amid strangers speaking an unintelligible language and struggles to accept losing his previous life and finding a place in a society with different customs, needing a way to support himself and not knowing a single soul. His worry about finding a place is assuaged when he finds ways to apply his knowledge of chemistry - as long as he is circumspect in introducing new knowledge not too far in advance of the planet's technology and being labelled a demon.

As he adjusts, Joe finds that he has be dropped into a developing clash between the people who cared for him, and for whom he develops an affinity, and a military power from elsewhere on the planet - a power with designs on conquest. Unaware, Joseph Colsco has been poured into a crucible where time and trials will transform him in ways he could never have imagined.

Cast Under an Alien Sun is a story that's science fiction in premise, adventure in execution - a cross-genre adventure with elements of science fiction, history, hard science, epic fantasy, time travel, romance, alien contact, and space colonization.

©2016 Olan Thorensen (P)2017 Podium Publishing

What listeners say about Cast Under an Alien Sun

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Slowly we turn, step by step, inch by inch...

I was searching for a new sci-fi series to explore after the Bobiverse trilogy when I read the premise for the Olan Thorensen book. Reading the reviews, I noticed that one of those reviews having a large number of most helpful votes, referenced this book as having too many details and hard to get through. I must say this reviewer was spot on, and I came very close to considering the purchase a waste, and then everything changed!

The author certainly took his time writing numerous chapters about the back story in infinite detail through the first 5 or 6 chapters, however, the book took on a new life and the characters developed well after the initial history lesson and gauntlet of useless details the reader is exposed to at the beginning.

The story follows the main character Joe Colsco who is plucked from modern day earth after a disaster befalls him through an alien encounter. After the aliens save his life, he is transported to an earth type planet to resume his life. The story transitions at this point into Joseph's introduction into an early earth like society, and becomes both interesting and addicting as he struggles to come to grips with the loss of his previous life, and how he becomes invested into this new life in a land that is much like earth of the 1700's.

Jonathan Davis narrates this audio and is brilliant in bringing the characters to life with various character voices.

I became a huge fan of this story line by the end of this book, and immediately purchased and began reading the next in the series. I still believe the amount of descriptive detail used to convey the story at the beginning was overkill, and a major distraction before the story developed into something special. It reminded me of an old Three Stooges episode where a line was often quoted... Slowly we turn, step by step, inch by inch... which is how I felt at the beginning of this book.

I do highly recommend this book, and the series, which continues to draw my interest in these characters fate.









206 people found this helpful

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Do you love meetings?

I wanted to like this. The premise is fun -- modern specialized youthful academic gets transplanted to a down-tech milieu. The execution is mind-numbing. 45 minutes and 5 chapters in and the only actual *action* happened in the first chapter. Everything else has been clumsy exposition masquerading as dialogue and paper doll character development. Seriously, all of chapter 4 is a staff meeting among the military leaders in charge of the conquest and subjugation of a large island, wherein they tell each other the entire history of the campaign up until now. They're in charge! They know this stuff already! We readers are supposed to believe that these guys really don't have anything better to do than have a two hour meeting that could have been handled in five minutes? "Admiral, Doctor, General, I've received and read all your reports. We're moving out." There, job done.

Then, in chapter 5, we get a *recap* of the meeting as the guy who ran the meeting goes home to his wife and talks about his day. He lists to her all the meetings and paperwork he did all day, and he feels happy and satisfied about it, and she feels proud of him for being such an assiduous worker.

Really?

Meanwhile, the characters have no depth. I've spent a commute with this book and so far everyone is a paper doll. The author spends a lot of time telling us about details of appearance and characters' resumes, but nobody does anything. Therefore, all this description serves exactly the same purpose as coloring in fine tip pen on a paint-by-numbers mosaic pattern: plenty of details, but it's still flat.

The narrator does what he can, giving different voices to different characters and trying to shade the text with appropriate emotional nuance, but it's a losing proposition. No matter how dramatic the reading, an unrealistic status meeting where nothing actually happens is not going to be interesting. I feel angry about the waste of my time.

98 people found this helpful

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Don't hesitate, get it.

if you enjoy the detail of the Bobiveres and David Webers' Safehold series, invest the credit.

Don't worry, it's not as slow as Webers books, but it'll keep you hooked with a serious narrative and light humor.

If the initial premise intrigues you, then get tis audiobook, you won't be disappointed.


*Note to staff at Audible.

Don't you dare not publish the sequel, after buying over 230 plus books from you, owe me this much.

thanks in advance.
Tom.

98 people found this helpful

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Well worth the credit

What made the experience of listening to Cast Under an Alien Sun the most enjoyable?

Since I've always had a soft spot for Time Travel / Alternate reality books, this was a nice twist on both of those. Well created alternate world and settings as well as all those subtle differences between what we know (knew) and Joe's new reality. I read the Kindle version not that long ago and pre ordered this one as soon as it was available.

What did you like best about this story?

How our MC comes to term with his new reality. He goes through an emotional roller coaster, something that I find other similar books overlook more than not, and eventually carves out a place for himself in his new reality.

Have you listened to any of Jonathan Davis’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, I haven't, but I think he does a good job. 4+ stars.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Home is where the heart is

Any additional comments?

I think more than avid TT/AR reader will enjoy this book. It's well written, a lot of research has been done and a huge effort has been put into the world building. This book is actually one of my all time favorites, though surpassed by the third book in this series. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series on Audio.

67 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Subliminal Assimilation

The first book of Destiny's Crucible has a riveting start, immediately followed by more mundane ground-laying, but gradually finds a way weave itself into your psyche. By the end of the first third of the book, you do not want to put it down. Surprisingly, what holds your attention is not fast action or a suspenseful plot. You keep listening because of a genuine bonding with the main characters, love of location in time and space, and the tantalizing potential of what the main character is going to do. You simply become very interested in his new life. This may sound simple, but it's effectively good writing - character development at its finest!

Cast Under an Alien Sun is not quite a literary masterpiece, but it is extremely well written and subtly entertaining. Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, everything in this book seems to be just right. It has just the right amount of science, sex, violence, and intrigue to keep things interesting and fresh. The narrative is mature, but not stuffy. And for Science Fiction, there is zero hokiness and believable context The performance by Jonathan Davis is superb and pleasant to listen to.

Because I have strict criteria about what I give 5 stars, I can't quite go there; but would easily give this book 4.5 stars if I could. What I look for in a 5 star book is that element that transforms a well written entertaining story into something deeper and more meaningful. Cast Under an Alien Sun is an entertaining and extremely well written book. Thoresen clearly has the potential to put the other books in the series over the top. I guess I'll have to read them and find out - something I am definitely looking forward to doing!

63 people found this helpful

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Thank GOD for Audible Reviews

For without the many reviews telling me to "hang with the story" for the first 45 minutes I would have given up, demanded a refund and missed the glorious adventure awaiting me in this series.

Thoransen clearly needed an editor for the first 45 minutes- all of the background information on the Narthani could not only have been easily conveyed as the series unfolded- it actually IS conveyed as the story unfolds. This is why I give it a four star- although I would really like to give it 4.5!

Okay with the ONE complaint out of the way- what a series and what a great first book. It really does force one to imagine what would happen if we woke up in the early 18th century. The excitement of watching Joe share discoveries with the Kielanders, with the Narthani always in the background, plus the super character development and descriptions of Kieland culture make this a top choice for not only fantasy fans, but those, like me, who love the sweeping histories of nations and culture.

The only other nag (not complaint) I have is the chances of another planet, inhabited by transported humans, almost exactly (but not completely) replicating the culture of early 18th century northern Europe right down to a monotheistic religion similar to Judeo-Christianity. Of course since the peoples were apparently transplanted from Earth by a yet to be revealed alien culture, the timing of which has not yet been revealed, that may indeed be the explanation. Maybe the place was constructed twenty years in the past and everyone given a brain implant. Oh well- this does not detract from the superb series.

Jonathan Davis is a superb narratory and mimic. He is pitch perfect!

If you like sweeping sci-fi, military and/or fantasy series this is absolutely a must.

53 people found this helpful

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A bit too slow-paced for my taste

The story proceeds with a lot of time spent on digressions of a war council where long discussions were held on past campaigns which were mostly eye flyover sections since little discussed there ever really had any influence to subsequent unfolding story.

Joe's introduction to the society was subdued in the beginning which made for mostly uninteresting observations of the society he was placed into. Eventually, he began to become familiar with the people, at first, learning the language and then to using his 21st century, highly specialized chemistry discipline to introduce advanced technologies to the locals. So much so that he was able to expand from basic chemistry to things like paper factories, medical surgical procedures, mercantilism and even oil refinery, even though he nor the society's tradesmen had no previous real-world knowledge on these technologies. For the length of the novel, I was disappointed that except for the phenomenal ability for Joe to advance technologies, the actual story itself had not progressed very far.

The novel was written well enough but the story itself was rather uninteresting and uninspiring. The narrator did a good job in performing the various characters, be it male of female.

I'll not be continuing with the series.

47 people found this helpful

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First Review Ever!

First a little about me....I have been a listener on Adubile since 08/01/11 and have never felt compelled to write a review. I just finished listening to Mr. Olan Thorensen first book "Cast Under an Alien Sun" and was very impressed. There is science, world building, adventure, and characters that you truly care for. I listened to this book over the course of 5 days. I can not wait for the next audible book. (I know that the next 2 books are out in written format). I can say without hesitate to stop reading the reviews and use that credit....you will not be disappointed.

34 people found this helpful

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Loved it. Please Continue the Series

I have no particular insights. I love this genre -- society building and discovery or rediscovery of science and technology. A bit like David Weber's "Off Armageddon Reef". But I like Thorensen better than Weber. This book is particularly well done, with excellent characters. I just hope Audible gets the next two novels in the series soon. (And with the same narrator.)

31 people found this helpful

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Highest Marks! Great Series!

My favorite book of all time is Mark Twain A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Cast Under an Alien Sun is the first book I've ever found to so completely modernize this story and yet keep completely to all the quarks, traits and storylines that also make the story great, all the while remaining a unique work on it's own.

I love the concept of bringing modern day knowledge to a new world of humans residing in a world that has developed to the equivalent of the 1600's on Earth. In this sense, the story emulates time travel without ever asking the listener to make this scientific leap of logic and all the paradoxes that can follow. I would argue this makes Cast Under an Alien Sun a purer story and allows the listener to focus on innovations and knowledge our protagonist struggles to release into his new world without worrying about consequence to our own modern day era.

I could not recommend this series more highly! 5+1 Stars.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Michael
  • 05-31-17

Excellent Series - so good I read them first!

Cane across the series on kindle format and loved the premise so much, that I bought it. I am dyslexic and rarely read, thus a huge fan of audible. This is a fantasy plot, but reads like realism and is both very intelligent, detailed and at times witty. Really easy to get drawn in and hooked. This story is fantastic and I am so happy it came to Audible. Dear fellow fantasy audible lovers - I truly, truly cannot rate his series enough and the highly talented author. Haha, I am not paid or affiliated, me being a young British chap and the Author a Yank.

Definitely give it a go, I guarantee you will not waste a credit, but like me, will end up listening to it again and again.

Enjoy, I know you will!

12 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-18-18

I prefer a character led story

I found the story contained to much of the author "telling" us facts rather than letting us discover them with the character, for me, it slowed the story down. I also thought "do I need to know all this background?" Tell me when I need to know it, if in fact I do need to know it.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Peter
  • 06-13-17

When can I get the next one?

What did you like most about Cast Under an Alien Sun?

Loved the premise and the characters. Well written story and strong delivery.

What did you like best about this story?

The technical aspects and the realistic characters

Have you listened to any of Jonathan Davis’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Nope

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

Any additional comments?

When will the next one be available on Audible? Very frustrating that I can't continue - may have to revert to old fashioned Kindle or heaven forbid paper!

6 people found this helpful

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  • Mike Collins
  • 04-10-18

I gave up...

Any additional comments?

Tedious, unengaging, excessive exposition, silly fantasy names and the prospect of several volumes of this story...life's too short, and there are a lot of much better books to listen to.

5 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Tommi Elonen
  • 04-22-18

Main character was the biggest problem

I can't really recommend. It was ok'ish, but not really. The writing was only meh, the book just dragged on and on and on...
One of the biggest problems was the main character. He lost all of my respect when he had a large hole dug in the middle of his village near their wells and filled that said hole with some pretty toxic stuff. He even wondered about if the stuff would have any harmful effects, but his solution was just to grin to himself and thank the gods that there was no chemistry pollution oversight agencies or such in his new home planet. Twice.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Heisenberg
  • 01-24-18

Interesting idea, but poorly written.

I tried with this, but have given up six hours in. I liked the basic idea behind the story, but found it poorly written (far too much exposition). Narration was fine.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • cameron
  • 08-19-17

Teenage wet dream............

What did you like most about Cast Under an Alien Sun?

The start before it became the cringe-worthy POV sex diary of a day dreaming virgin.

What could Olan Thorensen have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

honestly, stop trying to game of thrones with all the sex scenes could have had twice the character development if you had cut out like 5 of the sex with farm girl scenes

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

The main character had the same tone throughout even though, to begin with, he was a mess.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

yeah angry and embarrassed I listen to audiobooks on transport and in public so all the sex scenes were just not needed at all.

Any additional comments?

pick a genre and stick to it, could have done without all the needless sex scenes not saying to have none just cut it back dude.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Sabine
  • 06-15-18

disappointingly boring

I was really excited after the first chapter, the story seemed to be promising and interesting. But it turned out that the main character is dull, the alien planet, including the habitants living on it and their customs, just like earth, including Abbeys, scholars and braised beef and that the most challenging thing for the main character to face is how to break up with a woman he just met a few weeks ago to have finally sex again after nine months of abstinence.
The really interesting idea of how a chemist would try to change this world with his knowledge and how this foreign society would react, is resolved in a very simple way: he doesn't face any challenges, not even the slightest criticism, people around him just accept his soap and paper and anasthetics and fertilizer factorys so that he is able to buy himself a comfy little cottage.
After reading the book I have the feeling that I don't know the main character at all, the book doesn't even tell how he coped with loosing his wife and unborn child, it's barely worth mentioning.
wouldn't buy it again!

2 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Tracy Russell
  • 10-10-17

OMG this is dry slow and boring.

I am trying hard to enjoy this as I paid for it but OMG it's dry and slow. OK I have now finished the book. If you loose all the bits that do not involve the main character then I would have given 2 stars. Don't waste your time and money

2 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-08-17

Boring, over-complicated rubbish

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

If the reader had read a different book it would have been considerably better.

What was most disappointing about Olan Thorensen’s story?

Getting in to it. It started well, but soon ran into the sand.

Any additional comments?

Don't bother.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Casey
  • 11-22-19

Not bad

I thought the narrator did a good job but the story was a bit underwhelming. It is a pretty good concept, just not executed that we'll. I almost quit a few times and don't think I'll listen to the sequel.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Dean
  • 07-20-19

Fantastic and cringe at the same time

I read/listened to the five books. The story, plot, and research underpinning this series is great and had the potential to get almost full marks across the board. Enjoyable and worth it. However there were some very cringe worthy and cheesy sections that let it down. I can forgive the few inconsistencies with time distance etc.. no big deal. But OMG the romance and relational interludes were like reading or watching a pathetic tv soap like, ‘Bold and Beautiful’ script unfold in front of you. I predicted easily what was going to happen in the first half of the first book the way the author was going to head with the romance through the whole series. It was like he couldn’t help but introduce his own fantasies into the story. If only the author left this ‘Bold and Beautiful’ crap out it would have got higher marks from me. Also each book followed a same same formula with plot development l, but I didn’t mind that. It was the cringe worthy romance crap that was annoying especially in book four. Overall it was enjoyable.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-11-20

Loved it, very happy I stumbled onto this.

In my wish list for a long time, I was a bit hesitant to get it and I shouldn't have been. I think I'm going to binge listen this series now.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Hawk
  • 12-22-19

Series Review. More fantasy than sci fi.

Although I enjoyed this series, as I continued through the 2nd and subsequent books, I found myself increasingly annoyed and frustrated, primarily with the central economics within the story/society. I found myself repeatedly asking the question "where does the money come from?". After all, the coins just keep rolling in from the sale of commercial goods despite the fact that most people in this level of society never had actual money. So where does the coin come from?

Secondly, by the 4th book, the author repeats himself a lot. Sometimes within the next paragraph. It felt unnecessarily drawn out, protracted and desperately in need of a good edit. The novels also felt like they were an extended narration of a tech building computer game. It really did. It is also very predictable and the author frequently telegraphs his intentions. Furthermore, nothing ever goes wrong - ever!

Having leveled these criticisms, I must say that I did enjoy them, and felt that they are one of the more entertaining series I have encountered in recent times. The first book made me smile and feel good at times, and this was surely due to the wholesome and nice story that contained very little conflict and violence.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mike1C
  • 04-20-18

Cringeworthy beginning but improved as it went along.

A protagonist called “Joe”. I mean cummon’!.. I was on the verge of returning the book because the beginning was so badly written, but I persevered and thank god, it improved. The idea at the book’s heart is really appealing and finally it connected with that story; one of finding yourself in the past, knowing what you know now, and how you’d deal with the issues and responsibilities that knowledge created. It’s surprising good yarn that travels quite well and raises a few thought provoking issues. I just wish the author could go back in time and read-write the first few chapters!

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-08-18

Good book, I will read the next one.

Overall the writting was excellent and the story interesting. The author did an outstanding job of describing a world and characters that made sense.

However, the performence was excessively emotional in places. The story a little too expansive and detailed in sections and some parts felt like they were put in during editing rather than part of the core story.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kayla
  • 11-02-20

Integration into a low Tech parallel Earth Culture

This is book 1 of an engagingly written Sci-Fi story, where the slightly geeky main character Joseph has to adapt into a parallel Earth culture with a technological level of the 17 hundreds. The humans on the island Caedellium were taken from a pre-European culture - thus their development follows similar structures then those on Earth, although there are significant differences in their society. Book 1 revolves mainly around Joseph's integration into his new environment and social status while coming to terms with a situation that will most likely be irreversible. The book is written from several point of views of different characters. It will be helpful to go to Olan Thorensen's web page and download the Anyar/ Caedellium maps and the character list to prevent confusion with the many different names.
The narration of this book series was excellent - especially with so many players involved. It is a very entertaining read.

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  • A C Bennett
  • 07-12-18

Fantastic start

Great start to a tried and true formula. Mr Davis narrative was excellent and I look forward to the next audio in this series.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jlobb
  • 02-18-18

Fantastic Story

Highly recommend this book. Characters and the story draw you in. I'm already downloading book two!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Tim
  • 11-10-17

Great idea

The main plot hook maintains the interest and I’m loving the series all the way so far.
There are many other ideas that perhaps I would have introduced in Joseph’s place but a couple he did I wouldn’t have thought of, in such is my enjoyment.
Looking forward to flight and naval additions