In the Hall of the Martian King
By John Barnes
In the Hall of the Martian King is the third volume in the Jak Jinnaka series by the American author John Barnes.
This is the third book in the Jak Jinnaka series. Jak, has gotten him self an easy job administrating the Hive base on Deimos. Noting much is supposed to happen, but of cause something does happen and Jak is soon united with his old friends on Mars, where they have to go through all kinds of trouble to save the civilization as we know it.
I've read a bit about what other people thought about the first two Jak Jinnaka books since I reviewed them and what surprised me the most, was that some people thought that the first Jak Jinnaka book was a “young adult” book and they where a bit angry with Barnes for making the second book in the series so clearly not a “young adult” book. I'm not sure why they thought that the first book was a young adult book, yes the protagonist is young, but that doesn't make it a YA book. It would probably go down well with youngsters, but lots of “grown up” books does that. Secondly, I can't really see why young adults shouldn't read A Princess of the Aerie – Yes, there's some wickedly bad sex in it, but it's not that explicit and Barnes makes it very clear that this is not really about sex, but about power and abuse. I would have loved all these books when I was fifteen. But then again, I'm not sure what the definition of “young adult” exactly is...
What you'll find in this book is not sex, but politics. Barnes has moved on to (or back to) political satire. Normally I like satire low key and witty, but Barnes is rather heavy handed and loud about it, but I found that it actually fitted well with the characters and the rest of the story, which is as action based as the first two Jinnaka books. In some ways it's rather Heinlein to mix political topics with action like that – I like it.
The Wager has been mentioned in the first two books, in the series. It's a series of principles that most people in the Jinnaka book universe follow and live by. Especially people from the Hive where Jinnaka originates. Now some archaeologist in a small kingdom on Mars has found the diary of the inventor of the Wager. Jinnaka and friends has to secure the diary for Hive Intelligence service. Now, the back page of "In the Hall of the Martian King" says "Too many spies spoil the plot" and that's basically what the rest of the book is all about. Lot's of different powers trying to get the diary for different reasons.
It's a lot of fun and Barnes never lets the satire and action get in each others way, and while some of it is heavy handed it's also damn funny.
Written on 7th March 2002 by TC .