Top critical review
A Series That is Less Than the Sum of Its Parts
Reviewed in the United States on May 10, 2018
This is less a review of "Judgment of Mars" than it is my response to the entire Starship's Mage series. Individually I'd have given each book 4 Stars. It is the series as a whole that ended by annoying and disappointing me.
To begin with the positive (and there is a lot here to praise), the books take place in a vividly imagined and always entertaining universe. It is a futuristic universe that successfully combines science fiction and magic. It is peopled by a cast of characters who are, for the most part, likeable, fun, and admirable. Speaking of admirable, we have Damien Montgomery, the star of the series who, to begin with, is young, small, near penniless, and without connections in a world where all of the above are almost mandatory. It is nice on occasion to encounter a hero who is always honorable and willing to sacrifice self for others. If that sounds like a pompous description, Damien is himself anything but. Among a collection of likeable people, Damien shines.
I finished the first book in the series involved and wanting more, so I bought the other four volumes in this five-volume series. And I enjoyed the second just as much. By the time I had finished the third, the books had begun to seem a little too similar to each other--possibly my own fault for reading them in too rapid a sequence. I considered stopping at that point or at least waiting a while before reading the rest. But by this point it had become clear that each volume had been in its own way just a portion of a much larger, all-encompassing story, and I wanted to reach the final denouement. What would happen? How would it happen? So I kept reading. All of which brings me to the source of my ultimate disappointment, the reason I ended by giving the series just three stars.
My final paragraph is, in a sense, almost entirely a SPOILER. I'll leave those who don't want to hear more with the idea that the series as a whole was less than the sum of its parts.
SPOILER: For anyone else: Little by little, the author revealed that the specific catastrophe Damien encountered in each volume was just a particular part of a controlling and evil puppet master's grand (or not so grand) design. He even let the reader in on the identity of that puppet master. I so looked forward to the final volume to find out when that identity would be revealed to Damien and the other good guys, to see Damien take on and hopefully defeat him, to find out what would be left of Damien at that point. And NONE of that happened. Yes, Damien takes on another terrible catastrophe in this final book of the series, but that is all, except for a note from the author that to find out what happens the reader should read his next series. I hate single books that end in cliff-hangers. To make of this entire series a cliff-hanger seemed entirely unacceptable to me.