Cartwright's Cavaliers: The Revelations Cycle, Book 1 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Heir to one of the leading "Four Horsemen" mercenary companies, Jim Cartwright is having a bad year. Having failed his high school VOWS tests, he's just learned his mother bankrupted the family company before disappearing, robbing him of his Cavalier birthright.
But the Horsemen of eras past were smart - they left a legacy of equipment Jim can use to complete the next contract and resurrect the company. It's up to Jim to find the people he needs to operate the machinery of war, train them, and lead them to victory. If he's good enough, the company can still be salvaged.
But then again, he's never been good enough.
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|Listening Length||12 hours and 41 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||February 16, 2017|
|Publisher||Seventh Seal Press|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #54,356 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#421 in First Contact Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#2,084 in Alien Invasion Science Fiction
#2,291 in Literary Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
Top reviews from the United States
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I WILL BE INCLUDING SPOILERS WHEN NECESSARY
As I said, the book starts out okay with a character whose troubles are easy to identify, even if they're not totally relatable. In fact, the character of Jim Cartwright, heir to an entire Mercenary Corps known as Cartright's Cavaliers, is meant to be the embodiment of a social outcast. Physically, he's out of shape and very rarely do we see him adept at any kind of manual task, but the reason I personally liked him for the first half of this book was because of his motivation, that and Mark Wandrey did at least try to make Jim something of a charismatic figure.
Jim fails his VOWS testing and is overlooked by all of the merc corps, but that doesn't exactly matter since his father owns the Cavaliers. In time for his 18th birthday however, his father is reported dead and before he knows it, Jim is slapped with a summons after his mother ran off with all of the corps' funding and left its assets to be liquidated. This is where I started to enjoy where the book was going; the rise and fall of a corps, a series of hurdles that Jim has to go through post-bankruptcy in getting his life together, only to be saved by a hidden stockade of assets in the form of the Cavalier's collection of museum additions at the Smithsonian.
This first half of the book mostly builds the world up, and shows Jim making efforts to better himself--physically and mentally, as well as making good on his obligations to the Cavaliers--with the help of old hand mercenaries and friends of his father. They train, they put out word that they're regrouping their staff, they fly out to pick up contracts, etc.
This goes on for a while, and while it isn't action-packed it is at least relatively exciting with a slow buildup and enjoyable character interactions. Jim himself, the young leader, has the all-too-quickly learned maturity of someone that was betrayed by his own family and has his mind set on making the Cavaliers better than before.
Now this is the part where I'm going to get heavily into spoilers because I can't at all talk about everything wrong with this book without it. If you plan on seeing for yourself, then stop reading past this paragraph. In short, the book spirals downward once their first contract and quickly I start to see that this has become something of a sophomoric fever dream, power fantasy for that awkward kid in class that everyone tries to be nice to.
I'll start off with something about Jim's personality I missed earlier, because it's not so bad. Jim is a Brony. If you're not sure what that is, then here's the jist; a grown man that enjoys My Little Pony. I almost want to say that I wish I were kidding, but at the least it made for some funny moments of dialogue between him and his mentor, Hargrave, in which Jim tries to tel him the difference between his various pony plushes like Applejack and Rainbowdash, his personal favorite. Hargrave of course then asks Jim if he's gay, which while expected still warranted a one-note laugh from me.
There's another scene during Jim's first combat drop where he sees Rainbowdash dangling next to his eject lever "unapprovingly" and he gives her his frank opinion like we all have to inanimate objects at some point in our lives.
Anyways, on that topic of the combat drop, this is where the Audible preview started for me, ending just before Jim has to make a leap of faith to attack a main battle tank on his own, risking his life for the rest of his compant. So I was excited for this scene, and then immediately disappointed.
It became very evident that Wandrey didn't entirely know how to write action scenes in gripping ways when he relied on Jim to curse repeatedly as he fumbled, fell, and clambered around the tank in his power armor. The detail was fairly bland and for the most part I was lost into picturing just what I described above; a clumsy takedown that Jim was lucky to walk away from. That's going to be a reoccurring theme throughout this book. Every action scene in this book was quite literally Jim bumbling around the battlefield, causing enough mayhem in his wake to allow his company to win the battle off screen, and in each case Jim is saved by dumb luck and lame one-liners.
After this scene, Jim is MIA and has to find shelter on the ice planet with what little he has in his SERE kit, and as such he goes underground. It looks bleak for Jim until he finds an indigenous life known as the Faye (sp?), a small, intelligent mammal that is described in a way that name-drops every cute animal you can think of just for kicks.
The Faye, who Jim is able to name Splunk without any objection--in fact she's excited for it--is a literal example of a living, breathing Deus Ex Macchina. Not only does Splunk manage to find enough resources for Jim to survive long enough to be rescued--compatibility with his gear be damned--but she's also bound to him to the point where she'll die if they're separated for too long or too far away. Jim responds to this with "it was like having his own My Little Pony character." This is where I suddenly felt that this book was written by someone entirely different, because this line felt immaturely out of touch with the reality that the first half of the book presented, but I digress.
Splunk makes an addition to the Cavaliers as a pet, mascot, whatever, and unofficial mechanic. Now I wish I were kidding. Every piece of machinery that Splunk touches suddenly ends up working better, Jim's life is saved multiple times by Splunk repairing parts of his armor like a pocket R2D2 crawling around his armor during a fight, and to make things worse, it's heavily hinted that they have some kind if intimate relation.
Fast forward a few operations, and we have the cavaliers celebrating Jim's birthday on their ship. Jim has, for a while, had a crush on one of their maintenance staff, Adeine, who's substantially older than him yet acts like a school girl that's only just a little out of his league. It's clear that there's a mutual interest between them at this point, but post-celebration when Jim gets to his quarters, we're gifted with the most awkward, cringe-inducing but mercifully short sex scene that I've ever had to listen to. In fact, don't get this on audible. Save your credit, because the narrator's bland-as voice make this more uncomfortable. Luckily though, this is all a dream, but what I knew I shouldn't shake from my mind is that Splunk was present in his room when he wakes, with one of her fingers touching a neural implant port under Jim's ear.
Now I've read up enough on cybernetics to know where this was going, but I had a feeling that Mark Wandrey expected us to not really get the hint, so I'll pretend like it's not important for now.
So their last contract of this book comes about and the Cavaliers have a catastrophic entry into the area of operations. In fact they lose their ship and most of their fighting force, save for enough fighters to barely mount defenses for their client, and a pair of ancient, 50 foot mechs that were awarded to them from one of their previous jobs.
Real fast, Jim confesses to Adeine at this point that he liked her but wasn't sure if she liked him in a scene where he rescues her and a bunch of others from part of their ship after their crash landing. Adeine replies with "Like you? I want to screw your brains out!" I'll just leave this where it is and move on.
Forward to the battle, fighting a ridiculously numbered opposition of a race called Tortantulas, Jim regroups all of his people at their holdout and they're able to devise a plan to bring one of the ancient mechs back online. In theory this is great, until I remember how the rest of Jim's fight scenes have gone. Somehow I was able to be even more offendingly stunned at the level of detachment from the original tone established.
In his badass mech suit, Jim faced the charging Tortantulas blaring a soundbite from its external speakers that not only misquotes one of the most notorious gaming memes of all time (LeRoy Jenkins) but the narrator then immediately plays the song "Bodies" by Drowning Pool. This made me pause my book, and after a brief yelling session at no one in particular, I had to look up the year this was written, because there was no way that it was done anytime before 2009, with a community of gamers, devs, and publishers that respected the industry enough to not let an iconic moment in gaming history be used like this.
Bumbling around the battlefield again, Jim messes up his awesome mech, BUT LUCKILY THEY HAVE ANOTHER. After this, they make a final assault for the Tortantula's staging area, where Jim faces off against a gigantic monster in a scene reminiscent of Pacific Rim, with a sudden explanation of what the creature is even though it's totally unnecessary at this point in the book. We're given last minute lore on the monster, the Canavar, mere seconds before Jim is locking fire with it.
In this scene, the monitoring equipment that the mech is using gets damaged, but through some kind of organic conduction, Splunk is able to mind meld with Jim by touching his neural ports, and he's able to see things through the mech's phantom eyes. Remember how I said that I'm pretty sure that Splunk mind-frakked Jim? Well this only confirmed that.
Jim and Co kill the big baddies, and they fulfill their contract, coming back to the guild hub as heroes. Jim then is met with the leader of another guild, a woman that had actually been present in the liquidation of his corps' assets. For next to no price at all, she sells him back the Cavalier's flagship, and suddenly he and his corps are back in business.
There's an epilogue kind of scene where his mother comes back asking for money and he tells her off, then has another gross scene with Adeine, then Splunk runs off somewhere to set up the bait for some kind of sequel that I won't be buying. With as wordy as I've gotten here, I can only hope that you're going to be careful in purchasing this title.
As I said, the first half of this book set up for something good, but the second half was written with a totally different mindset. If you want my opinion, spare your money for something else, or maybe take a chance with one of the other titles in the Revelations Cycle series, because this one is just a schlock of bad memories.
Glad someone referenced this in a FB post so that I went to find it. Now for the next 70 books...
Jim Cartwright is the scion of the late Thaddeus Cartwright. His father was the leader of the family mercenary unit, Cartwright’s Cavaliers, one of the Four Horseman group of merc units. He also is totally out of shape and his not confidence in himself.
Suddenly he finds the person in charge of the Cavaliers after his mother has stripped the Cavaliers bare and forced it into bankruptcy.
After Jim graduates high school he finds out he is bankrupt and is left with no assets. That is until he finds out he is the beneficiary of a will from the founder of Cartwright’s Cavaliers that leaves the Cartwright Historical Association to him.
When he arrives at the Cartwright Historical Association he finds a caretaker who turns out to be from the Cavaliers along with the equipment that was collected by the Historical Association. Using the equipment that has been collected by the Historical Association and kept in working order he and his mentors are able to reconstitute Cartwright’s Cavaliers to once more become a functioning mere unit.
This where the military science fiction starts. With help of the caretaker and some other current and former Cavalier mercy Jim obtains a commission that is supposed to be easy in order to build up credits.
While the Cavaliers are being reconstituted Jim begins to transmogrify from an out of shape, over-weight young man with low self-esteem and confidence to the Cartwright’s Cavalier commander as well as finding he really is Cartwright. He finds he is able to plan and participate in military actions on other planets as well as innately pickling the correct course of action for his merc unit. He also gets to make planet landings in drop ships.
The book is fast paced and from a military standpoint runs true to what could take place in a merc unit. You will be rooting for Jim Cartwright and his mercs. Jim is able to continue on when one of several of his close friends and mentors who have helped guide him are lost.
In short if you are looking for a military science fiction book that rings true and will keep you thoroughly engaged in turning pages this is the book for you.
Top reviews from other countries
There are a number of interesting features included in the book, with the CASPers (short for Combat Assault Suits Personal) suits of powered armour weighing about half a ton each and equipped with heavy weaponry such as rocket launchers, mini guns or portable canons being one of them. Another set of interesting features are the various alien species. One of my favourites is the Besquith, a kind of giant bipedal wolf, also a mercenary race and among the fiercest and most savage competitors of the humans. Another nice touch is the Raknars, huge mechanised war machines left over by a previous war and a now extinct alien race, and which reminded me very much of Titans in the Horus Heresy and Warhammer 40K universe. These Raknar were the answers to the Carnavars, savage genetically modified monsters from the same past war and about which you will also learn in this book.
The wold setting is quite good, and seen through the contents of the war museum of the Cartwright Foundation, with the very first CASPers suits. The idea of having the company founder and his immediate heir setting up this Foundation to also preserve the company from potential future incompetence and mismanagement is also an interesting one. The scene with a gang of ruthless punks surviving by murdering other people and selling their organs is a rather powerful one, showing the decay of Earth governments and societies.
Then there is the plot, with Cartwright’s Cavaliers, one of the Four Horsemen mercenary companies, becoming bankrupt because of the hero’s mother, and with the hero, of course, starting out from (not quite) scratch and setting out to salvage the Company’s name and business. While Jim (junior) Cartwright is a bit of a teen ager anti-hero with a bit heart, a bit weight problem and no experience at all, the reader (or me, at least) has not doubt whatsoever that he will succeed, however improbable this may seem given all of his handicaps. This is precisely one of the limits of this otherwise great book: it is, at times, hard to believe. Another limit is that there is not very much context about the other members of the Cartwright family, and Jim’s father and grandfather in particular. It would have been nice to learn a bit about what exactly made Cartwright’s Cavaliers become one of the Four Horsemen but maybe this will be for another book.
It is nevertheless very much worth a read. Four stars all the same, despite my gripes.
I like that he has issues, and actually has to struggle to overcome them. I also like the ships, suits, fighting, blowing stuff up, and the mercs themselves. Also...Splunk!
The pop-culture stuff and the romance with the main character is a little cringey.
Otherwise very enjoyable, and I will be reading more in the series.