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  • The Shadow Within

    Everyone's always told me just to read books 7 and 9 of the Del books and then the trilogies...and I didn't listen, slowly making my way through 1-6, which were all pretty much stand alone stories that didn't feel like it fit the tone of the B5 universe. It felt like all the generic star trek novels that came out, but slapping on B5 characters.

    I've been reading this book the past couple of days, and it's finally a plot line I care about, and the characters are done right as well. It's basically the story of Anna Sheridan and Morden getting trapped by the Shadows, and John Sheridan's first command experience on the Agamenmon.

    I really liked the main story, psi-corps involvement, and how Morden came into fruition. It was really well done. I don't want to spoil too much in case someone wants to read it and hasn't.

    The b-story was so-so...and was a generic "insubordination not liking the new captain" kinda deal, which really the only payoff was the reaction at the end when John found out Anna was "dead."

    The Babylon 5 parts were a little forced and I thought felt like they popped out of nowhere. The story could have worked just as well without Sinclair, Delenn or Kosh in it, but I think the novels wanted to at least include the station at some point for the readers.

    Still, this book was definitely worth reading for that backstory. That's my little mini-review of it. Anyone else's thoughts?
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  • #2
    I do believe you've got it surrounded.

    I think this one came from an outline from jms, which was then fleshed out by Jeanne Cavelos, who later did the same for the TechnoMage trilogy.
    Only a fool fights in a burning house.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by B5_Obsessed View Post
      I do believe you've got it surrounded.

      I think this one came from an outline from jms, which was then fleshed out by Jeanne Cavelos, who later did the same for the TechnoMage trilogy.
      Yup, I'm going to read those after I finish the Del books (which I'm on #8 right now...and man...I don't like this writing style at all. At least it's short). Then probably to the Centauri trilogy. I read the psi-corps ones already, which I enjoyed thoroughly.
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      • #4
        In some ways the book is better knowing what will happen when they get to Zha'ha'dum. For me it's creepier because I know what the Shadows are capable of, and to have the characters innocently go la-la-la into the depths makes me think 'No! Don't go there!' Maybe that's just me.

        It also fills in some of the story. Although the whole Anna thing goes on for two seasons, it was hard for me to really feel bad that she 'died' because she was just an absent character. You can see how she was before the Shadows got involved and it makes the differences after more pronounced.
        Last edited by Spoo Junky; 04-12-2007, 01:59 PM.
        Flying around the room under my own power.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by B5_Obsessed View Post
          I do believe you've got it surrounded.

          I think this one came from an outline from jms, which was then fleshed out by Jeanne Cavelos, who later did the same for the TechnoMage trilogy.
          Pretty sure this was based on an original pitch by Cavelos. I believe book 8 was actually based on a plot outline by JMS, but that one apparently didn't turn out great, and JMS doesn't really consider it canon in the way that 7&9 and the trilogies are.

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          • #6
            To be fair to the writers of the early books, weren't they written before the show had even aired, so they had nothing to work from as far as the characters were concerned?

            Of course that does not excuse bad writing (only ever read 7 & 9 of the original series of books, so can't comment) but would certainly explain the more generic feel to them, and the sense that they hadn't "got" the characters.
            The Optimist: The glass is half full
            The Pessimist: The glass is half empty
            The Engineer: The glass is twice as big as it needs to be

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Garibaldi's Hair View Post
              To be fair to the writers of the early books, weren't they written before the show had even aired, so they had nothing to work from as far as the characters were concerned?

              Of course that does not excuse bad writing (only ever read 7 & 9 of the original series of books, so can't comment) but would certainly explain the more generic feel to them, and the sense that they hadn't "got" the characters.
              Well, the books star Sheridan..so I doubt they could be written before the show even aired.
              Flying Sparks Web Comic - A Hero and Villain In Love. Updates on Wednesdays
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              • #8
                The first batch of the books were written before the writers had seen Sheridan in action, presumably they had access to the scripts and the writer's bible. I noticed in 'Voices' Sheridan is a bit of a secondary character, most of the action is from Garibaldi and Talia's POV. Sheridan just sits behind his desk filing paperwork for the most part.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by SmileOfTheShadow View Post
                  Everyone's always told me just to read books 7 and 9 of the Del books and then the trilogies...and I didn't listen, slowly making my way through 1-6, which were all pretty much stand alone stories that didn't feel like it fit the tone of the B5 universe. It felt like all the generic star trek novels that came out, but slapping on B5 characters.

                  I've been reading this book the past couple of days, and it's finally a plot line I care about, and the characters are done right as well. It's basically the story of Anna Sheridan and Morden getting trapped by the Shadows, and John Sheridan's first command experience on the Agamenmon.

                  I really liked the main story, psi-corps involvement, and how Morden came into fruition. It was really well done. I don't want to spoil too much in case someone wants to read it and hasn't.


                  The b-story was so-so...and was a generic "insubordination not liking the new captain" kinda deal, which really the only payoff was the reaction at the end when John found out Anna was "dead."

                  The Babylon 5 parts were a little forced and I thought felt like they popped out of nowhere. The story could have worked just as well without Sinclair, Delenn or Kosh in it, but I think the novels wanted to at least include the station at some point for the readers.

                  Still, this book was definitely worth reading for that backstory. That's my little mini-review of it. Anyone else's thoughts?
                  I really thought the Centauri Trilogy was by far one of the best novels ever written.. the fact that the Crusade series was pulled off the air you actually get to learn more about the technomages and of course the Drakh with the keeper and Londo. I started reading the Psi Corps trilogy but never got the chance to finish. Now you say which book explains more about Morden and Sheridan?

                  I haven't gotten to the other B5 novels myself but overall really they really are worth reading? Please give me ideas and explanations without spoilers..I'm very curious.
                  "The Babylon project was our last best hope for peace..It Failed...In the year of the shadow war it became something greater...Our last best hope for victory..the year is 2260..the place Babylon 5"--Lt. Commander Susan Ivanova (opening main title narration from B5)

                  "Faith...Manages"--Delenn and Lennier from B5
                  "Oh, boy, is this GReAT!!"--Stephen Furst as Dorfman (Flounder) from Animal House

                  V--"For Victory. Go tell your friends"--Abraham Bernstein from V
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Babylon5fan07
                    I really thought the Centauri Trilogy was by far one of the best novels ever written.. the fact that the Crusade series was pulled off the air you actually get to learn more about the technomages....
                    The techno-mage trilogy goes even further than the Centauri trilogy in giving more information about the techno-mages. I don't know which of the books are still available out there on the market, but it's worth seeing what you can find if you liked the Centuari trilogy.

                    ...Now you say which book explains more about Morden and Sheridan?
                    The Shadow Within

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                    • #11
                      The main impression I took away from this book was feeling disappointed about the portrayal of Morden. Morden to me was always a sadistic, nasty piece of work with a giant ego who secretly got a kick out of doing the Shadows' bidding because he believed heart and soul in their philosophy and went along with it willingly.

                      There was never a hint in the show of the nice, self-sacrificing Morden we see in this novel, even when the Shadows were gone and he appeared as a ghost in Day of the Dead. It didn't feel like the same character at all to me. That said, it has been ten years since I read it, so I may be mis-remembering.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by SmileOfTheShadow View Post
                        Well, the books star Sheridan..so I doubt they could be written before the show even aired.
                        Well, I did say I hadn't read them. I was obviously only half remembering what I had read about them.

                        The Optimist: The glass is half full
                        The Pessimist: The glass is half empty
                        The Engineer: The glass is twice as big as it needs to be

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RMcD View Post
                          The main impression I took away from this book was feeling disappointed about the portrayal of Morden. Morden to me was always a sadistic, nasty piece of work with a giant ego who secretly got a kick out of doing the Shadows' bidding because he believed heart and soul in their philosophy and went along with it willingly.

                          There was never a hint in the show of the nice, self-sacrificing Morden we see in this novel, even when the Shadows were gone and he appeared as a ghost in Day of the Dead. It didn't feel like the same character at all to me. That said, it has been ten years since I read it, so I may be mis-remembering.
                          I really liked A Shadow Within, but I do agree with you on this point. It carried over into the Technomage trilogy, which I felt were the best written of all the B5 books, yet had the most glaring moments of 'false' characterisation for me, when Morden was portrayed as a tragic and sympathetic character while Londo was portrayed as overly sadistic and murderous even for the lowest point of his arc. Wrong way 'round!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by raw_bean View Post
                            I really liked A Shadow Within, but I do agree with you on this point. It carried over into the Technomage trilogy, which I felt were the best written of all the B5 books, yet had the most glaring moments of 'false' characterisation for me, when Morden was portrayed as a tragic and sympathetic character while Londo was portrayed as overly sadistic and murderous even for the lowest point of his arc. Wrong way 'round!
                            Probably inevitable given that the author was the same. I have to confess I forgave the book for its approach to Morden precisely because I like the fundamental idea that the face of the Shadows was out there bringing destruction and chaos to the galaxy not because he wanted to, believed in it or got a kick out of it but because he didn't think that he had any other options.

                            Unfortunately, the TV Morden seems to be having far too much fun to be that sort of tragic figure - and he certainly gave a good impression of a guy who believed in what he was doing during the tea party in Z'ha'dum.
                            Last edited by Garibaldi's Hair; 04-13-2007, 05:29 AM.
                            The Optimist: The glass is half full
                            The Pessimist: The glass is half empty
                            The Engineer: The glass is twice as big as it needs to be

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              To clarify, it was the mis-characterisation of Londo in whichever book of the trilogy that bothered me more. As well as the way it ret-conned The Geometry of Shadows episode a bit too much. Suggesting that 30 seconds after the fairly pat and happy (for B5 anyway!) ending of the episode there's a huge disaster concerning the characters we've just been watching doesn't sit very well with me.

                              But I think she's a great writer, and as I say I think they're the best written of the B5 tie-in novels in all other ways, so I can overlook this one thing.

                              EDIT: As for the reasons you liked Cavelos' interpretation of Morden, aren't those supposed to be the reasons we feel for and like Londo? That was the problem for me: she transferred the tragic sympathy the series made us feel for Londo to Morden instead, and for the duration of the visit to B5 completed the role reversal by putting Londo in the purely villainous role!
                              Last edited by raw_bean; 04-13-2007, 09:18 AM.

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