Cover Image: The Blood-Dimmed Tide

The Blood-Dimmed Tide

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Member Reviews

I fell in love with Asimov and Heinlein, Anderson and Niven, and many more of the science-fiction writers of the last century when I was a child. I immediately was sucked into the gravity well that existed by the sci-fi shelves at my local library. I could spend hours there. More than once I wandered off from my parents in the mall, only to be found in one of the bookstores seated by the sci-fi section and inhaling the contents of a new paperback or an old classic.

The Blood-Dimmed Tide by Michael R. Johnston brings back the best of those reads. It is a space opera of the classic style, with spies and battles, aliens and spaceships, and a fight for the right to exist on planet Earth. It starts with a wedding between two men who met in the first book of this series, The Widening Gyre (which we have not yet read but now feel we must!). They barely conclude the ceremony when all hell breaks loose. Attack follows attack, battle follows battle, and our heroes and heroines must cross the galaxy to shore up alliances, weaken adversaries, and bring the human diaspora back home.

For some eight-hundred years, the Zhen empire has held humanity in thrall. Now, finally, humans are beginning to throw off their yokes. But it will not come easily. There is much blood to shed, many lives to be lost, and the stakes are merely the survival of our species. In Tajen the humans finally have a military commander who can take the fight to the Zhen. With his husband, Liam, his niece, Kiri, and the rest of his team, the fight for Earth is finally one where the humans have a chance. Not a great chance. Not even a good chance. But a chance.

I was once told that a novel should throw everything but the kitchen sink at its protagonist(s). I don’t know whether I believe that, but Tajen and his family/team do confront almost everything imaginable. Strange aliens? Check. Uncertain allies? Check. Betrayal? Check. Injury? Check. Battle? Check. Running for their lives? Check and check and check again. They do manage to avoid any flying kitchen sinks…but there is a sequel coming, so who knows?

Perhaps the best part of this book is the dialog and relationship between the characters. I could perhaps wish for the aliens to seem more alien and less human…but I don’t really know what aliens would sound like, either, so that isn’t a valid criticism. Regardless, the zingers are plentiful, the comebacks are quick, and the affection is authentic. Especially within the family unit of Tajen, Liam, and Kiri, sarcasm and teasing and honesty and vulnerability come through quite well. None of them are perfect, each of them has flaws, and all of them are close enough to call the others out on those flaws. At times it reminded me of Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing dialog, which is one of my favorite shows.

Another nice thing about the story is its length. I read it on my phone in an afternoon. The paperback copy has 288 pages, according to Amazon. Given that many authors seem to be trying to outdo each other with 700+ page tomes that put the brevity of my old encyclopedias to shame, it was delightful to get lost in a story and be rewarded with the conclusion in a single day. Not that the conclusion really concluded the story. There is much more to tell, and a sequel is hopefully coming soon.

All in all, this was a great way to spend an afternoon. A good story, lots of action, likable and believable characters, excellent dialog, and just a lot of fun. Michael R. Johnston has jumped into my list of authors that I want to read more from, and I am looking forward to doing just that.
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...They thought it was over. They believed the Zhen invasion had been thoroughly repelled. Earth would be safe again at last. 


....Not so.


Tajen, Liam, and crew burst into action again, because Earth MUST be defended....no matter the personal cost. THE BLOOD-DIMMED TIDE is Book 2 in THE REMEMBRANCE WAR Series,  sequel to THE WIDENING GYRE.
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A sequel to The Widening Gyre. It can be read as a stand-alone but I feel you are missing out on a great beginning to this series.

Tajen has just married Liam, when an alert sounds. Ships have entered Earth’s atmosphere. One of these ships deliberately crashes into the shipyard and so Tajen and his new husband are back in action.

Due to the Zhen’s constant attacks, Earth’s fleet are in trouble and so Tejen, Liam and a crew head to the Kelvaki to ask for help.

But while they are away, the Zhen take the opportunity to attack again…..they want the planet back and to rid the universe of humans altogether.

Can Tajen raise enough of a resistance to take back control of Earth again.???? And are the Tabrans friend or foe?

This is a full on, action packed space opera, with a great range of characters and fantastic world building.  Roll on Book 3….

Thank you to The publishers and NetGalley for an eARC of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.
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I really enjoyed The Widening Gyre last year, so when I heard that there was to be a sequel, obviously it rocketed up my TBR. This sounds like a set-up to say I was disappointed: I was not. I liked this book, perhaps less so than the first, but it was still an enjoyable read.

The Blood-Dimmed Tide opens a few months after the end of The Widening Gyre. Tajen and his crew are busy defending Earth from repeated Zhen attacks, and have little hope of holding out for much longer. So, Tajen is sent to the Kelvaki Assembly to ask for help. Unfortunately, while he’s away the Zhen overwhelm Earth’s defences and occupy the planet, leaving Tajen and his crew to set up a resistance if they have any hope of getting their planet back.

Much like the first book, this is an action-packed romp through space. The action starts almost immediately and doesn’t let up throughout the whole book. As someone without pretty much no attention span, I loved that about it. And that the characters have a bickering found family relationship going on too, because that’s my favourite sort. So overall I enjoyed it.

In fact, really any problems I had were just to do with how the writing style worked with me, personally. There’s a tendency for the book to feel a lot like “this happened and then this happened and then that happened” and, while that’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination, it did make it feel sort of like events weren’t given necessary weight at times. People die at the hands of their oppressors in this book, and yet it never carried much emotion for me, perhaps because it happened and then things moved on immediately the next chapter. I can’t believe I’m saying this, me with my poor attention span, but you sometimes do need to slow down and dwell on things. Just a bit.

But that aside, this was a fast-paced and enjoyable read, and definintely a series I will be recommending.
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This is the second in Michael R. Johnston’s Remembrance War space opera series. It would have been helpful to have read the first, but Johnston provides enough backstory that reading the first isn’t essential. In the distant past, human destroyed their planet and took to the stars. They wandered alone in space until finally taken in by the Zhen. The Zhen were not as compassionate as they originally seemed. Earthlings remain second-class citizens. Tajen Hunt, a human, has rediscovered Earth and took the planet back from domination by the Zhen. As a result, humans are again walking where their ancestors walked 1000 years ago. The world building is excellent and technical stuff believable enough for me to suspend disbelief. There’s a touch of romance (I enjoyed two men being both husbands to each other and partners in saving Earth), lots of techie stuff, and humorous banter.
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