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Six with Flinteye, by Sean T.M. Stiennon Book Review | SFReader.com
Six with Flinteye, by Sean T.M. Stiennon Genre: Science Fiction Anthology Publisher: Silver Lake Publishing Published: 2005 Review Posted: 9/21/2006 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 10 out of 10
Six with Flinteye, by Sean T.M. Stiennon
Book Review by Benjamin Boulden
Have you read this book?
Six with Flinteye is the aptly named collection of six stories featuring sometime bounty hunter and full-time rogue Jalazar Flinteye written by Sean T.M. Stiennon. Jalazar is a nomadic gun for hire. He has a distinct dislike for the ruling class, what he calls, Alliances, a robot sidekick, and a strict code of honor. He doesn't lie, betray, or curse--except on rare, and particularly trying, occasions.
The collection opens with the story "Hunting with Flinteye," and ends with "Flinteye in the City." They run in chronological order, and have an easy fluidity that prompts the reader to keep turning the pages. The stories vary in length, but several of them are solidly in the novelette range, which gives them a more substantial feel and a continuity that is often absent in collections.
While the collection is strong, the stories do have their flaws. The opening story "Hunting with Flinteye," is the best example for these weaknesses, because it contains more than the others. The dialogue is tight and stiff: "I need some money. They're giving it. What about you, Borja?" Not to mention the prose, in places, is just a little clunky: "This part of Asi XII was coated in thick temperate forests all over--" and the characterization is flat and one dimensional.
"Hunting with Flinteye," even with its flaws, is still enjoyable. It chronicles Flinteye when, against his better judgment, he takes a job as a bodyguard for an expedition of wealthy Alliances. It introduces the reader to an interesting character that, while basically being a mercenary for hire, has a high code of ethics and strict rules of honor.
These flaws lead to one of the more interesting elements of Six with Flinteye: You can actually watch Stiennon's development as a writer. The first story is the weakest in the collection, but each story--in order--is better than its predecessor. The action is sharper, the dialogue is cleaner, the prose is tighter, the description is more vivid and the characterization goes from almost none to a, "Wow, I like this Jalazar character."
Stiennon gains his stride midway through the collection with "Flinteye's Ride" when his robot, Axten, is introduced as a major character. Axten is a sarcastic, and logical piece of electronics that plays foil to Flinteye's straight-laced emotionally charged psyche. Axten is the glue that holds the relationship together. He is logical, sentient, and emotionally aware of the rigors and dangers the duo faces in each adventure. Their interplay is humorous, and allows not only the storylines to develop more clearly, but also illuminates the likeability of Flinteye as a heroic character.
Six with Flinteye is a throw back to what science fiction used to be: Fun, fast, and with a forward energy that has the power to entertain the reader. It has a dash of high fantasy (as in Conan the Barbarian), a pinch of young adult science fiction (as in Lucky Starr) and a spoonful of good old-fashioned adventure. The stories are well written, their prose is tight and sparse, and they are designed to keep you turning the pages. If you like swash-buckling and gritty action you will enjoy Six with Flinteye.
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