The spaceship was an alien zoo controlled by an A.I.

The Sibyl’s War trilogy is a relatively new series written by one of my favorite authors, Timothy Zahn, who is known for writing some of the best Star Wars books, as well as originals like The Icarus Hunt and the Conqueror’s trilogy. I recently wrote about another Zahn novel called Manta’s Gift.

I listened to all three Sibyl’s War books using the Libby app during the second half of 2022, and I have to say that while I typically love Zahn’s material, these didn’t resonate with me as much as his other works.

I’ll give you a little bit of a synopsis for each below and I’ll try really hard not to spoil too much for you. You’ve probably heard me say it before, but I want you to know that I want you to form your own opinion about these books. Just because they weren’t a great fit for me, doesn’t mean you won’t like them.

Pawn

by Timothy Zahn

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Nicole has always heard voices in her head. You know, the kind that no one else can hear? She’s tried using drugs and alchohol to quiet the voices, but nothing seems to work. One day, Nicole is at home wondering what to do with her life when her “friend” Bungie knocks on the door. He’s been shot. There’s blood everywhere, but you should see the other guy. Nicole convinces Bungie to go to the Emergency Room, but he decides at the last second that it would be better to stop a doctor in the parking lot and demand, at gunpoint, that he help patch up Bungie’s wound.

It’s in this moment that three, winged aliens appear and grab ahold of Nicole, Bungie, and the ER doctor. The next thing Nicole knows, she’s waking up aboard a spaceship, and Earth is nowhere to be seen.

The ship, the Fyrantha, is occupied by several alien species who all seem to be present against their will. Soon, Nicole realizes that her ability to hear voices in her head is exactly what she needs to survive aboard the Fyrantha. You see, the ship contains a very old artificial intelligence, and it speaks to Nicole, a sibyl, by speaking directly into her mind.

Interestingly, while the other humans aboard are feeling trapped, Nicole is enjoying a feeling of safety and belonging that she never had back in Philidelphia. However, her feelings of safetly don’t last long. When she finds out that the ship is being controlled by a small group of aliens called the Shipmasters, she realizes that she may be the best hope that any of them have of getting home again.


Knight

by Timothy Zahn

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Nicole continues to explore the Fyrantha, and as she does, she discovers that the ship is broken down into four main quadrants. In each quadrant, the shipmasters have placed two different alien species in an arena-like enclosure, forcing them to compete for basic resources such as food. Nicole soon learns that these battles are experiments being run by the Shipmasters. The winners are considered able fighters and the Shipmasters sell the location of their homeworld to the highest bidder, so that the planet’s inhabitants can be enslaved and used as an army. The losers are considered weak and sent home. For this reason, the humans who have been on board the Fyrantha for a while try to convince newcomers, Nicole, Bungie and Sam (the ER doctor) that they must never fight. The shipmasters must believe that humans cannot fight – not just that they will not fight, but that they are incapable of fighting. The fate of the human race depends on it.

Having been bullied and controled by others her whole life, Nicole cannot simply stand by and watch as the Shipmasters carry out their scheme to enslave every intelligent race this side of the Milky Way. She takes charge and begins to form a plan to fight the Shipmasters and take control of the Fyrantha away from them.


Queen

by Timothy Zahn

Rating: 3 out of 5.

When one of the Shipmaster’s clients board the Fyrantha and try to take matters into their own hands, Nicole really has her work cut out for her. Weapons are very difficult to come by, so Nicole capitalizes on her ability to talk to the ship’s AI and convinces it to help her take control of the ship. As you can imagine, the Shipmaster’s clients don’t like that very much.


My Thoughts

While it wasn’t my favorite Zahn trilogy, I did enjoy it enough to finish all three books. I enjoyed the character, Nicole. She’s not the kind of person that I have a lot of personal experience with, but you could tell that she wanted to do what was right and help the human and alien captives on board the Fyrantha. When it was obvious that no one else was going to take a stand and offer help, Nicole put her life on the line and did everything she could to make life difficult for the Shipmasters.

Have you ever found a book you really want to read/listen to on the Libby app, only to find that there’s a waiting list a mile long? I’d recommend listening to these books while you wait for that other book to become available. They might not be your favorite books ever, but you probably won’t dislike them.

Way to put a positive spin on that…


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