Meandering Monday about Reading and Listening to Merkiaari Wars

As part of my goals every year, I try to read (or at least listen) to a few books in my chosen genres. This is to see what other writers are doing / have done, both to inform myself of what’s out there, and to also help me see what I need to work on.

I picked up Mark E. Cooper’s Merkiaari Wars (Books 1-3) from Audible when I was still working on “Copy Cat” (Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire #11), thinking it was similar to what I was writing. Boy was I wrong. Herc Tom is really a sort of Space Opera / Fantasy, whereas Merkiaari Wars is Military Scifi. But it was still worth listening to all 41 hours.

Listening to a book has been my chosen way of enjoying others’ fiction for a few years now, mainly because of how jealously I covet my sit-down time (any time I CAN sit down, I want to be WRITING, so when I can’t sit because I’m running errands or commuting, I can “read” without feeling like I’m losing that writing time.) I’m aware that this distorts my impression  of a book, because the narrator has interjected himself between the reader and the author, but I’ve chosen to live with that distortion. On occasion I’ll sneak a look at a few pages of the actual written work to see how much of a difference I can detect, and it varies depending on narrator, author, and the voice of the story itself. But it still gives me insights into the way stories are structured.

(If the author has taken some time with the narrator, it IS possible that the narrator’s performance is closer to the author’s intent than what I might interpret reading it with my own eyes and relative ignorance.)

Following there may be a minor spoiler or two, but I really don’t give away too much.

When I picked Merkiaari Wars, I didn’t pay enough attention to the subgenre. I caught that an alien species is encountered, knew there would be different planets, space travel and combat, and some variety of alien culture. I did encounter those elements, and at the beginning felt I had made the right choice.

The start of the trilogy (books 1-3 are Hard Duty, What Price Honour, and Operation Oracle) feels like an Alien Encounter-Fantasy-Drama (I know that’s not a genre – humor me.) We’re introduced to the Shan (not sure of the spelling – I was listening), who are coincidentally a feline sort of species (more on the peaceful, spiritual tiger side than my more housecat-like felines of Ramses and Baast.) I like the way the author develops this race and its culture. In the book we spend some time with the Shan, and with the human explorers who are spying on their new potential allies until contact is finally made. This is followed very quickly by a devastating invasion of the Shan system by the Merkiaari, who have attacked both the Shan and Humanity before.


The story shifts totally away from the Shan system and into military scifi, dealing with normal humans. Lots of weapons techno-babble that held no interest for me at first, mainly because (as I said) I picked the book because of the alien encounter at the start – my fault for not looking further to see what I was getting into, but it means it took me longer to adjust to the new tone so I could fully appreciate it. I kept wondering why the author abandoned the Shan storyline and went to all this unrelated covert military ops. Well, it IS related, but I was into it before the story finally returned to the Shan.

Somewhere in the third book we begin to see things from a third viewpoint – that of the Merkiaari. And at the end we’re left with a couple of cliffhangers (there are at least two other books beyond these three), and I’m sorely tempted to dive into both, but it will be a while, as I am sworn to NOT get tied up in a series – I’m supposed to be experiencing several different authors. But I will return to this series – it’s too good not to know what happens next.

You should read it, too. Just saying…

Current Book Promotions

In a Flash Detective Jimmy Delaney eBook CoverPurrMission-MainTall_025For information on my current promotions (including the FREE Presale and reduced price preorders for Cats of War III, my participating books in the 14th Annual Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale, as well as FREE starter eBooks for my Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire series and my Detective Jimmy Delaney series), look HERE on my CURRENT BOOK PROMOTIONS page.

Reaching Out

William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction and The Arcanist. His ninety or so short stories and related collections can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

Want to help me make a go of this writing gig WITHOUT IT COSTING YOU A PENNY? I’m in the Amazon Affiliates program, so any time you click one of the links I provide here to my books on Amazon, and then make a purchase of something like, say, a TV, I get a small percentage of Amazon’s profit. So PLEASE consider using one of my links to get to Amazon before you make that next purchase. Thanx!


or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

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