Eric Olafson: Midshipman by Vanessa Ravencroft [Book Review]
This is the ninth book in the Eric Olafson series, which I hadn’t realised when I agreed to read and review it. I’d been fooled by the Midshipman part of the title and had mistakenly thought it was the first of a series rather than the ninth!
Eric Olafson: Midshipman
Overall I enjoyed the book, and there were some excellent aspects, it had me wanting to keep reading it once I’d got about half-way through to see how it finished. As you’d expect there’s a deep background to the universe that Eric Olafson: Midshipman is set in. Very little of this is explained, but it made sense. There are references to things that I presume happened in previous books, but the story is self-contained and stood well on its own.
Eric Olafson is a larger than life character and his exploits, and that of his friends and colleagues are truly extraordinary. In some ways it’s like watching an over-powered role-playing game character meet a set of ordinary challenges. They get swept aside rapidly, but not without breaking a little sweat.
The reason it’s only got three stars, is that some of the dialogue was a bit stilted, especially in the early part of the book. I had difficulty in the first couple of chapters telling which characters were speaking. To the point I had to check a couple of times. This sorted itself out as the story progressed. There were also a lot of cheesy names for characters, races and systems. If it had been played for comedy then this would have been a plus point. I didn’t detect much comedy in the book (although the characters did have senses of humour at times).
The other major disappointment for me, which robbed it of a star, was the ending. It was a weak ending that completely removed the agency of Eric Olafson and his gang. Between them they faced many challenges and overcame odds, including surviving a world that had claimed all previous attempts at colonising it. However when it comes to an orbital jump going wrong, and where there is a build up that sets up a possible escape from tragedy, the gang simply focus on their mission and let it happen.