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A broken soldier and a lost psionic girl, both haunted by ruined histories, seek a powerful secret once capable of bringing solace to a desperate wartorn universe. But now, in a time of uneasy peace, it holds a more destructive power.

Uniquely qualified and entirely in over their heads, the two must embark on an adventure that contains not just the answers to their shattered pasts but perhaps the secret to saving humanity’s future as well.

-Goodreads

Book Information

  • Title: Children of the Black
  • Series: Silver Sights Saga #1
  • Author: W.J. Long III
  • Page Count: 714
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Rating: 4.0/5.0
  • Date Read: June 3rd, 2024

Opening Thoughts

Children of the Black by W.J. Long III was the last of my SPSFC-3 finalist reads. If you’ve been keeping up with my reviews, I started this round with the longest read and chose to finish with the second longest. I started in May and had to pause at the 50% mark to fit in other obligations. I was able to continue near the end of the month and then finished up just a couple of days into June.

As with all of my reviews from the SPSFC competition the ratings and review below are of my own opinions and do not reflect the overall score of the competition nor of Team Peripheral Prospectors. Now that my official reading from the competition is finished I wish all the authors the best of luck and hope even the finalist found some additional exposure and sales simply by taking part! I know that I personally found some really enjoyable reads that I probably never would have if I didn’t take part as a judge.

Pacing

The pacing was a mixed bag for me. There were times that I felt like I was slogging through a lot of unnecessary information and then at other times things were getting emotional or exciting. I often tend to describe these types of reads as epic. I know there are readers that love all of the additional information and scenes to help immerse them into the story and world. There is a very fine line with me and I’m not quite sure where I do draw that line. So where I might score the pacing a bit low, that again is my personal preference. I didn’t have any issues with names of characters or places and there are a lot of characters to go around in this one.

I thought of a good example or comparison for the pacing of Children of the Black. A couple of years ago I attempted to read The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams. Even though that was a fantasy read and this is science fiction, I had very similar vibes as the pacing goes. So if you like your tales on a more epic side of story telling, this one might be right up your alley for a science fiction read.

World Building

The world building was actually nicely done. I rather enjoyed the world the author put together for this story. Circling back around regarding spending time, I do like a good descriptive world. Some of the scenes that Long paints for us are really dark and creepy whether that is on derelict stations or old abandoned parts of cities. This really helped me feel in those moments and environments. This is a tech heavy world or universe also with a good mix of races and species and factions. The main backdrop of this story is the end of a war that constantly seems on the verge of kicking off again.

Character Development

The character development was also a solid aspect of this read. I do have a couple of mixed feelings with this but overall we had some really good character arcs to witness in Children of the Black. Obvious our three main characters Claude, Vision and Zhara were great to see along the way. There were even some solid supporting characters including the couple I had mix feelings about. Octavian and Miranda were really good characters in my opinion. Though I just felt like both of their arcs came up a bit short for difference reasons. Perhaps we will see some additions to this in future installments.

I also wanted to come back to the topic I started with regarding what seemed like unnecessary pages. Speaking of characters, in the back half of this book we are introduced or given more information of one of the pirates which covers a couple of pages letting us know what type of person this is, just to then have this character incapacitated moments later, never to be seen again in this book. Once again, this is just my personal preference and some readers may absolutely love this style of storytelling. This is why I wanted to give some examples of what didn’t quite work for me.

Roundup & Recommendation

Overall I did enjoy this story and it’s characters, I just feel like we might have been able to shave a hundred or so pages off of this and it would have flowed a bit better for myself. The opening scene was fire and then after we fast forward a bit things just seemed to drag for a bit until the second half of the book where things really picked up again.

If you like your reads to be epic with all of those additional juicy bits of information regarding the world and it’s characters, and you want to see that in your Science Fiction reads, I really think you may enjoy this one. I did like it enough to keep an eye out on where things go with the Silver Sights Saga.

Scoring

World Building 4.5/5
Pacing 3/5
Character Development 4/5

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Chad Barnard

Owner/Operator of The Hiking Reader Blog. Sharing thoughts on books and hiking trails and trying to find ways to continue to incorporate both hobbies together.

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3 Comments

  1. Great review! You touched on a lot of the things I felt about the book, too. I personally had the same issue with the extra POV characters who show up as POV characters just to die / disappear / whatever and never be heard of again. You only mentioned one, but I seem to recall several. I know there are readers who like that kind of random POV, but I’m personally not one of those readers. The 10+ POV characters were just way too many for my personal preferences.

    1. Well I had a rather detailed reply typed up to this and WordPress gave me an error I’ve never seen before and I lost it. So I’ll try and remember it all or at least a summarized response.

      I used to struggle with books with so many POV until I read one of my favorite series a few years ago (The Faithful and the Fallen by John Gwynne). I’ve actually read a few books lately with double digit POV that I enjoyed. For my own personal tastes I think it depends how multiple POV are handled. I prefer when the author keeps the POV separated by chapter. If we have multiple within the same chapter I can easily get lost at times. The struggle with separate chapters though is if the author doesn’t return to each POV frequently I can lose interest in the one(s) not brought back around very often.

      Breaking this topic down makes me realize I do not envy what authors must go through in putting these stories together for us to enjoy!

      1. I think my biggest issue with more than two or three POV characters is that authors often feel—sometimes rightly so—that readers need a reminder of what the character is doing when we come back to a character after a few chapters away. And it’s a very skilled author who can do a quick recap of the situation without making me feel like there’s too much repetition. I think that’s part of why I prefer fewer POVs… the recap isn’t as necessary, because we aren’t away from the POV long enough to need one.

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