Books for Grownups · Reading

“Forerunner” Review

“Kuxortal had always been-any trader would have sworn by his guild oath to that.”

So begins Forerunner by Andre Norton. I’ve been reading a lot of C. J. Cherryh the last couple years and decided that I wanted to branch out a bit before continuing with her corpus. But where to begin? I found a page on Cherryh’s old blog where she lists books/authors that she’s enjoyed over the years and, as she’s my favorite author, figured I’d start with the books she likes. I made a list and Forerunner was the first to make it off my shelf.

This copy included the sequel (hence, The Forerunner Factor), but my review only covers Forerunner.

In brief, this is the story of Simsa, a young girl living on a distant planet. Orphaned and with her guardian recently passed away, Simsa is forced to fend for herself in the bowels of the city of Kuxortal. This technologically backwards city is a harsh and dangerous place for a burrower like Simsa, all the more so as her appearance stands out so starkly from the general mob around her. But she has plans. Plans to use the odd trinkets collected by her late guardian to trade with the starmen who regularly visit Kuxortal for trade. When a specific starman, Thorn, takes a special interest in her artifacts, Simsa finds herself swept up in a conflict far more dangerous than her ambitions anticipated. The artifacts she so carefully guards are a link to Simsa’s own past; a past much stranger than she could possibly have guessed.

I don’t like doing bad reviews. Nobody wants to read about a crummy book, and I’d much rather be pointing people to a great read than steering them away from a terrible one. Honesty, however, is the best policy.

I didn’t enjoy this book at all. I found Norton’s writing to be awkward and bumpy. I was constantly kept from the story by the strange sentence structures and a whole lot of “telling” me what the characters were doing or thinking or feeling, rather than showing me. By the end – which was wholly unsatisfying in every way – I didn’t care about the characters or the plot. I just wanted to be done.

Obviously, Norton was a popular writer and lots of people enjoyed her books. Maybe I’ll even give her another try someday. I won’t, however, be reading the sequel to Forerunner (which is called, uninspiringly, Forerunner: The Second Venture).

On to a new book….

Profanity1.5There may have been a he** or da** in there, but nothing else.
Violence3There were several acts of violence described in some detail. Various “ray” weapons were used, as well as a bit of hand-to-hand fighting.
Sex/Romantic Themes3At one point, Simsa pretends to be Thorn’s prostitute, but it involves nothing more than getting them to safety. She also spends quite a bit of time naked and her body is described in some detail, but there’s nothing sexual suggested between any characters.
Organized religion is viewed negatively by Simsa who is a practical atheist. This theme is not prominent in the book, however.

NOTE: As always, my content notes are for informational purposes, not judgmental ones. For a full explanation of my Content Notes and the scale, click here

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