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In Dark Service (Far Called Trilogy Series) by [Hunt, Stephen]
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In Dark Service (Far Called Trilogy Series) Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Length: 575 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Language: English

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Product Description

Carter has been kidnapped. Enslaved. But he's determined to fight to the end.
Jacob is a pacifist. His family destroyed. He's about to choose the path of violence to reclaim his son.
Their world has changed for ever. Between them, they're going to avenge it.

Jacob Carnehan has settled down. He's living a comfortable, quiet life, obeying the law and minding his own business while raising his son Carter ... on those occasions when he isn't having to bail him out of one scrape or another. His days of adventure are - thankfully - long behind him.

Carter Carnehan is going out of his mind with boredom. He's bored by his humdrum life, frustrated that his father won't live a little, and longs for the bright lights and excitement of anywhere-but-here. He's longing for an opportunity to escape, and test himself against whatever the world has to offer.

Carter is going to get his opportunity. He's caught up in a village fight, kidnapped by slavers and, before he knows it, is swept to another land. A lowly slave, surrounded by technology he doesn't understand, his wish has come true: it's him vs. the world. He can try to escape, he can try to lead his fellow slaves, or he can accept the inevitable and try to make the most of the short, brutal existence remaining to him.

... unless Jacob gets to him first and, no matter the odds, he intends to. No one kidnaps his son and gets away with it - and if it come to it, he'll force Kings to help him on his way, he'll fight, steal, blackmail and betray his friends in the name of bringing Carter home.

Wars will be started. Empires will fall. And the Carnehan family will be reunited, one way or another ...

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3665 KB
  • Print Length: 575 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (15 May 2014)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group (AU)
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #327,087 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fascinating as always and a "didn't want it to end" read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.2 out of 5 stars 4 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Always a pleasure 8 February 2015
By J. R. Hozendorf - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mr. Hunt never fails to entertain and yes the build up/ development are slow going but hopefully that means he's planning on a long and thorough series once again. Just wish Amazon would messing around with his publisher for e-readers.....
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good Beginning with some Weaknesses 12 June 2014
By Mike A. Wants - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
In Dark Service by Stephen Hunt, the first book in the Far Called Trilogy, is a book that dabbles for a long time until the story and characters finally step up in the last third. While that might not sound appealing, I enjoyed the book and will read on when the next part of the series is released. Especially the setting deserve special mention, as it is vast and diverse.

The story revolves around a father, Jacob Carnehan, and his son, Carter. Their quiet live is blasted apart by a raid from air nomads that abduct the able people as slaves. Jacob, who's more than meets the eye, pursues these raiders and he'll stop at nothing to get his son back. But between him and his son lie million of miles, not a distance you can cross even in decades.

Yes, you read that right. There's a reason the series is called Far Called. The world is huge, bigger than any other fantasy world I've read about. While that's a great idea, it doesn't always work, because its proportions boggle the mind and aren't easily grasped. Most of the world isn't mentioned anyway and is nothing more than a distance on a map. What's interesting in the setting are the differences in development of the countries. While we start the journey in a country resembling the frontier of the wild west, there are tales from the Burn, which features warlords fighting with sticks instead of rudimental firearms. The farther we come to the source of the abductions, the more advanced the countries grow, until we see tanks and giant aircrafts.

The main problem of the book are the characters. While Jacob with his dark past is a great character to follow, driven and determined to do anything, his son and the other characters from their hometown are lackluster. Carter and his rival Benner are some of the biggest fools I've seen. That doesn't really make them endearing. They don't even work together after their town has been raided and they and many others have been abducted and sold into slavery. And the reason for their (rather recent) rivalry, or maybe even hatred, is a woman that's the icon of being a bitch. She couldn't be more obvious had she 'bitch' stitched in her forehead for everyone to see. They pale especially in regard to Jacob and that makes their part harder to read, because it's not easy to build a connection to them. They only start going forward in the last third of the book and that helps the whole book enormously.

The last third of the book finally steps up the pace and more players come to the screen, mysteries are revealed and established, and we get a look at what's at stake and who the factions warring over the world are. The characters, especially Carter and Benner, grow up and start to form their own personality. The ending itself is a big fest of action.

While you can't call the book predictable, there are more than a few instances where the next steps or even the outcome is obvious. That decreases the joy of discovery and wonder somewhat.

My biggest gripe with the book is something I can't really talk about without fear of spoilering you. You can always head over to my blog, should you want to know more. Let me just say that a plan is formed that is so obvious there's no chance they'd be the first to try. Which makes the whole plan kinda worthless.

Concluding, I can say that I can recommend the book. You might have to slog through the first half, but I'm glad I stayed with the book to the end. Its setting is interesting and the ending makes me wonder what's to come in the next installments. It's a very solid debut that lacks some flourish and isn't quite smooth on the edges. I'd like to see some more differentiation and personality for the characters in the next books. There's much room to growth. Get the book when you want fantasy different from the medieval-style setting. Its wild west setting works quite well and the books has room for a lot of different settings for the author to explore.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Action/Intriguing World Building 28 September 2015
By Outback Archaeologist - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
If you’ve seen reviews of this book saying ‘it’s a slog’, ignore them.

I suspect the people who wrote these are not regular readers of speculative/epic fantasy/sci-fi series and lack the patience required to read in these genres. The first chapter is a little slow, but after that, there’s non-stop, hurt-me-more action. Without giving too much away, this review will focus on the characterisation and the world which Mr Hunt has built. The novel sits within the steampunk/speculative fiction universe. I can’t bring myself to call it sci-fi, as the characters, and not the science, are the main point of the book.

The premise of the novel is a that a group of young people are kidnapped by slavers and taken far, far away to work in hellish mines on a volcano. The fathers of the young people then mount a rescue attempt that seems doomed to fail given the sheer vastness of the world of Pellas (hundreds of millions of kilometres), and the vested interests of the empire controlling the mines. Please do not think this is YA fiction. It is NOT. The ‘young people’ are in their 20s, and they –shock horror!- behave as adults would: they have sex, swear and act in ways that are totally self-serving at times. I loved the book, although I would have put a little more swearing in it!

First up, the world of Pellas.

Pellas is world without end, a concept I haven’t encountered in spec. fiction before. It’s a world so vast, cartographers can’t map the boundaries. Nations are not separated by mere distance, but by the kind of time needed in our universe to travel the stars: generations upon untold generations.

It’s also an ‘uneven’ world – the kind of world I love.

By ‘uneven’, I refer to the fact that nations are not all based on medieval Europe, or on Victorian London/Paris. Rather, they are technologically and culturally diverse. Some have electricity, guns, advanced medicine and rocket engines; others are populated by agrarians, hunter gatherers, pastoral city-states. The technological advancement –or not- of nations is as unique as Hunt’s development of Pellas: the more distant your nation is from the stratovolcanoes which spew out ores, the less metal your people have.

The thirst for metals, the empire that controls the lands around the ore-spewing stratovolcanoes, and the vastness of Pellas itself are as much characters in the novel as the ‘real’ point-of-view characters are. The world is delicious and complex.

The other point I will talk about in this review are the characters themselves.

The book is written in third person. There are three main point-of-view characters, Jacob Carnehan, his son, Carter, and their ‘frenemy’, Duncan Landor, the son of a wealthy rural landholder. Duncan’s sister, Willow, is also a POV character, but gets much less air time in the book.

The characters develop slowly, and the character arcs for Duncan, Carter and Willow are far from complete by the end of the novel. Jacob Carnehan undergoes the most dramatic change in the novel –from mild pastor to blood-thirsty gunslinger, and I have to say that I enjoyed him more and more as the novel unfolded. Carter can be annoying – I’m not convinced that ‘trouble follows him’ in the way that everyone else seems to say, as he has a rationale for what he does. He doesn’t develop quite as much as his father, but I did glimpse the beginnings of some changes which I suspect will be developed more in the following books. Duncan goes from spoilt landholders’ son, to house slave then free man of the imperium, and develops loyalty and the ability to care for someone he shouldn’t, but in the end, still manages to be the same self-centred, survivalist prat that he was at the beginning of the story. The minor characters, Kerge, Owen, Khow, Sheplar and Sariel all play their supporting roles well.

Whilst the female characters don’t get much airtime as POV in the novel, those you meet are all strong, kick-arse women. The female antagonist, Helrena Skar, is particularly well-written and much more complex than simply a rich warrior princess used as a plot device to personify cruelty. I suspect Willow will be a main POV character in the next book, just as I suspect that she and Carter will be torn apart after just having found each other.

There is some romance, several tastefully written sex scenes, lots of blood, guts, fighting and desperate chases. There are guns, bows, radio signals, planes, gliders and explosions – in other words, there is a lot of action.

Even better, UK spelling has been used throughout the book – I jump for joy every time I see the word ‘arse’ instead of the weak, insipid ‘ass’ (a donkey-horse cross in my part of the world, not a swear word), and I love the double ‘L’ in travelling. Viva la revolution and keep the English language English.

My main complaint about the book would be Mr Hunt’s paragraph lengths. Some paragraphs extend across more than one page; this is intimidating and off-putting for many readers. I would recommend splitting these up, then those saying the book is a slog would probably change their minds. There were several typos in the book (scapular when it should be ‘scapula’), and the edition I am reading is a clunky, big ‘trade paperback’ - too big to carry around in your handbag. I would have preferred that the publishers release a proper paperback, but then here in Australia we are yoked to the big boy publishing companies who care about making money, and not so much about getting readers’ eyes on deserving authors’ words.

In all, I can’t wait to read the next book and am a little miffed that I will then have to wait until June 2016 (again, this is not the author’s fault but that of the publishing houses), to read the final book.

Lastly, to Stephen Hunt: thank you for writing a book where I found myself caring so much about several of the characters, I was worrying over their fates when I was away from the novel for a week whilst travelling. It’s been a while since a book has done that to me, so you are to be congratulated. I am a very fussy reader and as a fellow published author, hard to please.

NB: This review is based on the trade paperback, not the Kindle version, but as I couldn't leave a reveiw on the paperback, I'm leaving it here.
5.0 out of 5 stars Slow then addictive 30 October 2015
By Daniel Hancock - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Starts out slow, but then gets very addictive !!!

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