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Help w/ Characters & Back Story?

Set in the Starfire strategy game universe, co-authored by David and Steve White, these novels feature the clash of the Terran Federation, the cat-like Orions, the genocidal Rigelians, and the "Bugs"...join us in the discussion!
Help w/ Characters & Back Story?
Post by sylance   » Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:52 pm

sylance
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Hopefully this forum is active enough for someone to help me. I'm new to the series and listening to it on Audible. Normally when starting a new series there's the usual time to acclimate to the world and characters but I can't seem to find my footing with Starfire? There are so many non-English standard names that I'm having a hard time keeping the story straight in my head.

My ask... can someone list out the main characters, their race, and a short bio? Also, what's the world summary without spoilers? I want to finish the series but I'm 6-hours in and still don't understand the story. Thanks!
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Re: Help w/ Characters & Back Story?
Post by Louis R   » Mon Jun 04, 2018 7:39 pm

Louis R
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hmmmm...

This _is_ a David Weber production, and Himself doesn't really do main characters. He may have _title_ characters, but despite people trying to shoehorn the books into a standard mold you can't dismiss any viewpoint character as unimportant even if they die in the first chapter. In fact, it's the death of Khardanish'zarthan in the first chapter of Crusade that brings one of the most important characters in the books onto the stage - but you'll only see his name once more after that chapter.

Worse, it is almost impossible to provide a list without explaining what makes those particular individuals particularly notable - which requires a comprehensive plot summary of all 4 books. After which there's not much point reading them unless you enjoy looking for things the summary overlooked. Or characters that you think should have been on the list.

Non-Standard-English names abound because, just as in the real world, the majority even of human characters don't have Standard-English names. You're not in Kansas anymore, not even figuratively. You can tell the species by the name, since apparently non-humans are less-inventive when it comes to naming conventions as much as they are with manufacturing and technology [chauvinism is alive and well in this series]:

Khardanish'zarthan is an Orion name, and all Orions have names in this format; the first part is the personal name, the second his clan. An Orion with -ahn at the end of her name is a she, since this is the female indicator.

Thebans seem to have only given names, which typically look like Lantu or Tanuk.

Thaarzhaan is a typical Ophiuchi name, and Noraku is Gormish, but you won't meet a great many of either species.

In the Star Union, named characters are mostly Crucian - Demalfii Furra - or Telikan: Haradda Brokken. You'll notice these are rather similar in form, but Crucians often have the -ii particle at the end of their personal names.

You can pretty safely assume that characters with names looking like Li Chien-lu or Ivan Nikolayevich Antonov or Howard Anderson are human. Many of them even have names you'd consider normal.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starfire_(board_wargame)#Races has a good summary of the different polities you will encounter, although not all of them appear in the books. Be aware that there are spoilers, though.

It's a bit hard to summarize the back-story without knowing where you started - with Crusade, or Insurrection? Suffice it to say that interstellar travel is by means of warp points that provide instantaneous transit between stars. Some of them can be detected by their tidal effects, if you look closely enough, others can only be found by entering from the other end. Sol apparently only has one, which was discovered by accident when somebody stumbled into it and found themselves at Alpha Centauri. That system, however, has several that provide access to other stars. Humans spread out through the network they discovered until they bumped into the Orions - and fought 2 wars with them - and then various other races. And fought with them, too. The series is based on a board game, and it seems gamers are easily bored if there aren't lots of blood, guts and feathers splattered over the table, so there's always been a new enemy on the horizon. Except when we met the Enemy, and he was Us, of course. The books cover events in 3 of those wars, and others are referred to in enough detail that you should be able to fill in the outlines. Warfare revolves around assaulting and defending warp points. Which tends to be an extremely bloody business.


sylance wrote:Hopefully this forum is active enough for someone to help me. I'm new to the series and listening to it on Audible. Normally when starting a new series there's the usual time to acclimate to the world and characters but I can't seem to find my footing with Starfire? There are so many non-English standard names that I'm having a hard time keeping the story straight in my head.

My ask... can someone list out the main characters, their race, and a short bio? Also, what's the world summary without spoilers? I want to finish the series but I'm 6-hours in and still don't understand the story. Thanks!
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Re: Help w/ Characters & Back Story?
Post by sylance   » Tue Jun 05, 2018 9:09 am

sylance
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Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:09 pm

Wow, thank you for the very thoughtful response! I appreciate the time it took for you to put this together. What you put below helps and now that I understand this story doesn't follow a few main characters I can relax a bit. Naturally, my brain is looking to latch on to a few names and follow them closely... especially since I'm listening to the book rather than reading it.

As to your question in the last paragraph, I'm starting with Crusade. Audible has the series listed in chronological not in publication order.
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Re: Help w/ Characters & Back Story?
Post by Louis R   » Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:15 am

Louis R
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Himself is a historian by trade, so his books tend to be a lot like history - a number of people can have significant influence on the outcome, and they can easily be what most people would regard as 'minor' characters.

He gets a lot of flack for that from people who want linear storytelling. I find their notions of history are usually equally blinkered.

It shouldn't spoil anything to tell you that the key characters in Crusade are First Admiral Lantu and Fleet Admiral Ivan Antonov. Explaining why would require a post full of spoilers, and the supporting caste are essential to getting them into that position.

sylance wrote:Wow, thank you for the very thoughtful response! I appreciate the time it took for you to put this together. What you put below helps and now that I understand this story doesn't follow a few main characters I can relax a bit. Naturally, my brain is looking to latch on to a few names and follow them closely... especially since I'm listening to the book rather than reading it.

As to your question in the last paragraph, I'm starting with Crusade. Audible has the series listed in chronological not in publication order.
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Re: Help w/ Characters & Back Story?
Post by ywing14   » Wed Jun 06, 2018 6:49 pm

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Louis R wrote:Himself is a historian by trade, so his books tend to be a lot like history - a number of people can have significant influence on the outcome, and they can easily be what most people would regard as 'minor' characters.

He gets a lot of flack for that from people who want linear storytelling. I find their notions of history are usually equally blinkered.

It shouldn't spoil anything to tell you that the key characters in Crusade are First Admiral Lantu and Fleet Admiral Ivan Antonov. Explaining why would require a post full of spoilers, and the supporting caste are essential to getting them into that position.

sylance wrote:Wow, thank you for the very thoughtful response! I appreciate the time it took for you to put this together. What you put below helps and now that I understand this story doesn't follow a few main characters I can relax a bit. Naturally, my brain is looking to latch on to a few names and follow them closely... especially since I'm listening to the book rather than reading it.

As to your question in the last paragraph, I'm starting with Crusade. Audible has the series listed in chronological not in publication order.


I agree, Lantu and Anatonov are important in the first book.
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Re: Help w/ Characters & Back Story?
Post by ywing14   » Wed Jun 06, 2018 6:50 pm

ywing14
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Posts: 343
Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:40 pm

Welcome to the Starfire series though. It's one of my favorite...well at least the first 4 books.
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Re: Help w/ Characters & Back Story?
Post by n7axw   » Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:45 am

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For the sake of continuity, there are some characters you can hang your hat on. Antonov would be one such character. His Orion blood brother Kthara (sp) is another. A bit later you are introduced to Vanessa Murakuma and the Prescott brothers. As Louis R. says, the telling of the story is not linear. But it does tend to move in a general direction. And these characters among with others do serve as markers as that happens.

Don

-
When any group seeks political power in God's name, both religion and politics are instantly corrupted.
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