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Summary

The UFS Phoenix embarks on a dangerous quest for the AI Ceephay Queen who rules at the heart of the Reeh Empire. For cover, Phoenix will use the enormous war being launched by the new rulers of the croma, Croma'Dokran, into reeh space. This war is intended in part to evacuate the corbi homeworld of Rando, thus righting a great wrong of croma history by rescuing 200 million corbi from reeh tyranny. 

While Lisbeth defies her parren seniors to use drysine and parren firepower in assisting the evacuation, Erik captains Phoenix, accompanied by Styx's four drysine warships, to the world of Eshir, where Styx insists the Ceephay Queen was once located. There, in the ancient, ruined city of Qalea, Trace and Styx must lead an away mission through buried layers of Reeh Empire history to uncover its long-forgotten secrets. Discovering the Ceephay Queen's present location could set them on the road to saving humanity. But Qalea's secrets have been hidden by the reeh for millennia, secrets that could rock their Empire, and they will stop at nothing to keep hidden.

©2020 Joel Shepherd (P)2020 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Qalea Drop

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A strong new book.

No spoilers.

Negatives:
A bit of a slow start as it uses a fair bit of time to establish what this book is about.

Always a bit heavy to get your bearings in the start, with placing all the names, races, factions and their associations with these books.

Some might find the jumping between so many characters, and their stories a bit annoying. Can seem a bit "overcrowded" as such.

There is something that happens in the book that is such a typical cliché, and I really was hoping for something different in this series...

There are ...issues between humans and Drysines that never really gets addressed.

Positives:
It's a direct continuation of the previous book.

New exiting environments

Get to know Major Thakur a bit more in-depth.

Top notch voice acting.


Glad I read it, looking forward to the next.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Not impressed

Great example of an author who uses fancy talk to sound smart, but it comes across as simple.

1 person found this helpful

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You have to listen to it

A great book loved the story great narration 5 stars I highly recommend listening to this book 👍👍👍⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Well narrated but incomprehensible

John Lee did a great job. Clear diction and distinct characters.

However the narrative was too filled with characters and races to be incomprehensible. I had last listened to the series six months ago. Frankly I just could not catch up again. Or even care.

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    3 out of 5 stars

Not the finest book in the series, but not the weakest

If you’re reading this looking for a stand alone review, I can’t recommend this book to you - it’s neither a good entry point to the series or good read on it’s own - ironically, for a long time reader it spends too much time referencing past books, but for a new reader it doesn’t spend enough.

That said, the titular Qalea Drop is a stunning locale for a science fiction romp, a city so old that it is a maze of canyons and repulser air traffic with buildings clinging to the side - not of natural rock, but of over 8000 years, seven entire historical ages, of collapsed rubble.

So as you can imagine, the hoverbike chases are a bit good.

However, the entire arc beyond spiral space has been too stretched out and is now getting too bitty - each of the stories told would be an excellent story in its own right, but the evacuation of Rando belonged in the previous book, as did the fall and redemption arc as the characters struggle with necessity over morals.

This book does provide a redemption arc of sorts for the main characters, and continues the age old sci-fi trope - Home is the regiment, across the sea of stars.

(Or ship, in this case)

That’s pleasant and heartwarming - and if the book had been about the two things the series has excelled at so far - archeology under fire to discover lost secrets and space combat, with a sideline into genuinely unique and fascinating alien races (we all like the Chroma a bit too much, crazy not-cow people) then it would have been excellent, but we barely get to see a proper fight with the Phoenix in it - instead it’s all Styx, Styx, Styx - and I _love_ the AI races… I like the setup with them done here. But… the old battle of trust is four frickin’ books old, and at this rate of publication I’ll be elderly before they finish some of the relationships.

Finally, the ending felt as forced as Rando Splicer - and Chroma Venture. We’ve been out here for three books that could have been two - Chroma + Rando and Qaela Drop, with the same detail on both. It almost feels as if the author is meandering a little - which is also where some of his other series just stop, so I am a little concerned.

All that said, I enjoyed it even though it was frustrating and bitty, and each of the storylines has been compelling enough - but not compelling enough I couldn’t put it down. So my criticism may be unfair - Rando Splicer was split two ways, three if you include the side plots in spiral space - and yet the meat of that book I remember the best is the one bit you could do away with, Phoenix goes on a road trip. I mean, there are so many iconic scenes in that section. The same is true of ‘Trace becomes a Biker Chick’ in Qalea Drop - it really does include iconic images that remind me of the Fifth Element, and for the elderly gamers out there, the old computer game set in the canyons of Titan after the planet is abandoned, Hardwar. Rando continues an excellent military romp, but that section feels dragged out - three whole character viewpoints on the evacuation, one or two on Qalea, that balance feels wrong. But it wasn’t bad, either, as Vietnam war remakes go.

I suspect the next book will be a bit more focused on the original format, but I have lingering worries about the tone set by this book as it continues to push ‘the ends justify the means’ and ‘species harmony is pointless’ memes a little too heavily - with limited counterbalance, and it already feels as if Trace is an irredeemable murderer - that we’re supposed to forgive her war crimes because of a struggle with PTSD and total mental collapse is a poor show, as is the continuing backstabbing by everyone of everyone else, with not one person actually getting put in a hole in the ground because of it. I didn’t take this book series to be about anti-heroes, and it would be painful to put it down - doubly painful as those are several days of my life I won’t get back, and I hate incomplete series. I can only hope the author shifts back towards his original tone, war is hell is a fine theme, but when you’re supposed to empathise with outright war criminals who show no signs of changing their mind or coming to new determinations…

… well, at least _one_ long teased plot ends and sets up a new one.

No, I’m not going to tell you what. You’ll have to read almost the whole thing. But when I say it _should_ have been the last line of the book, I mean that in two ways - it would have been five times as good as the real last line, and it links directly back to my feeling in this review - Qalea Drop is a miss-name, but it’s the best bit.

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Galaxy Spanning Mega Series!

This series is a must for any true Sci-Fi fan. It has everything you could wish for and more. John Lee provides an epic narration as usual and brings the characters to vibrant life!

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This is one of my favourite SF series

This is one of my favourite SF series - I can't wait for the next one. The universe of the series is elaborate and fascinating with many alien species and AIs. Whenever there is a conflict between humans and friendly AIs I usually find myself rooting for the AIs - this is how well developed the AI characters are. All the characters are very well developed. The narration by John Lee Is excellent as usual.

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The excellence continues

Smart writing and great narration. What more could you ask for? Bring on the next volume in the series!

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Great series continues on track

Not much to say. Another installment that does not disappoint, in a series that has become one of the best sci-fi worlds I've experienced. Charachters continue to develop in interesting directions and the canon of the universe keeps on expanding, and the plot of the overrall story thickens. Impatient for the next one.

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One of the best ongoing sci fi series!

Renegade was my first audible book. A Year later and I eent through Qilea Drop in a weekend. It is ace.

Shepherd's world building is massive, rich and detailed but it never gets daunting or feels bloated. Plus his characters have amazing arcs.

In this book alone he deals with morality of AI, refugees, PTSD, immigration, far right extremism and religious fanaticism all wrapped up in an engaging mystery adventure that is not only a great sci fi story but is funny. A rare gem, please hurry with the next one!

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  • Cthaeh
  • 23-12-20

excellent

an excellent addition to an excellent series deep world building with heavy emphasis on characters and philosophies. Plots mostly revolve around strategy and political intrigues with hidden histories and agendas

5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • CReaper210
  • 14-01-21

Fun, but didn't progress the story much.

The narration is amazing, as has been the case with the rest of the series with John Lee.

But after finishing this book, I don't feel satisfied like I did with most of the other books in the series. I feel that it's only really the ending itself, the last one hour or so, that really gave the readers/listeners what we came for.

Our main crew goes to a Reeh-occupied planet with humans on it and three quarters of the way through of the book they are there really doing basically nothing. Fighting with random aliens on the planet and dealing with the divided human population and learning about the history on how they got there. Interesting, but almost completely irrelevant to the main story.

And then the book is split with us getting to see the Corbi evacuation. It was cool, seeing some of how they go about doing that. But I couldn't help but feel that the whole storyline was unnecessary. It very much seemed to serve the purpose of showing Liala and how she is handling things. I would have much rather that this corbi storyline have been cut down to a few chapters, leaving out the chapters with individual corbi, and instead having added to the storyline on Qalea.

Honestly, I really did enjoy the book and the action, dialogue, politics, space battles, etc. and seeing all that stuff and how it works in this universe is always a blast to listen to. I just ended up wishing that more would have happened to progress the main story. I expect pretty much all spiral wars fans to enjoy the book either way and important things really do get revealed near the end, so it's going to be a recommendation for that if anything, but for me, this felt almost like a side story to me, even though I understand it's absolutely not.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • David Warren Howard
  • 08-01-21

spiral wars are spiraling

I've loved this series but this was by far the worst entry! There are 3 separate storry threads and only one felt it had any real consequence the other two (a planitary evacuation and running around an alien world) needed to move on but it just dragged out the entire book. I just couldn't pay attention to the point when i only had 4 hours left i skipped over 2 of them. ill probably keep listening to the series, but if the next book has this same pacing ill be done.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ashbychick
  • 31-12-20

Continual Great World Building

I've loved this series! Shepherd does a great job with building the universe - and by the time we hit book 7, the world-building is deep and widely varied with a fascinating array of alien species & history. Yet he does it again in book 7 - building the mythos of Qalea and how it relates not only to humanity's history, but to the rest of the galaxy. Shepherd doesn't just build a fascinating universe - he advances character development as well. The Major, for example, was due for some internal reckoning (and wrestling). Eric is no longer the talented-but-uncertain LC, he's a captain with experience, and he's not afraid of that authority....and he's willing to use it for the right reasons. Anyway - I highly recommend this series, it's by far one of the best sci-fi series around (and I've read many of them)!

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael G Kurilla
  • 30-12-20

Way out on the spiral, kicking ass & taking names

Joel Shepherd's Qalea Drop is the 7th installment in the Spiral Wars series. Phoenix and her crew are still out on the spiral arm in the Chroma / Reeh region. The Croma have decided to rectify their previous treatment of the Corbi and engineer a 'Dunkirk' of Rando to relocate 200M Corbi. The Parren with Lisbeth, peripherally participate, but end up getting involved. Meanwhile, Eric and crew go off in search in Reeh space for the Ceephay queen and find a Ceephay AI, but not the queen, while also learning of Drysine emerging independence. At the same time, Trace has a mission on Qalea which houses multiple alien species, including humans that were captured by the Crim over one thousand years ago and transferred to the Reeh. On Qalea, against a backdrop of competing human and alien interests, Reeh secrets lie hidden that point to critical history of the Reeh empire.

Shepherd continues expand the story arc, while at the same time building an integrated and compelling series of subplots. Within this offering, the machine AI history has become more complicated with evidence of ongoing activity beyond the Deepey nines, as well as emerging clues of diverging interests. There is a tease that Eric and crew still face resistance on the home front despite all their efforts. If nothing else, Eric has upset the balance of Reeh and Croma in this region. In addition to all the big picture activity, there is also plenty of intimate and interpersonal action with Lisbeth's Parren position a bit more tenuous. The Corbi evacuation has several touching tender moments and Trace is facing her personal demons due to her time on Rando that make her more human. Finally, Shepherd manages to portray alien races as truly alien and unique.

John Lee continues his stellar performance with the most complex character distinction employed, including alien and AI characters. Pacing is superb. This is pure ear candy, worthy of an Oscar!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • chasmania
  • 28-12-20

series continues in high end form

This is one of the best series in this genre. Story, chemistry, action, and dialog make it worth multiple listens.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Hobbity111
  • 15-06-22

great continuation

the story & characters gain in complexity while the development of cultures explained clearly.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Tom
  • 08-02-22

When’s the next one coming out?

I have LOVED the spiral wars series and can’t wait for the next installment. I just hope this doesn’t “spiral” out of control to too big of a story to be told satisfactorily. That being said, this book has a great story-arc and I am satisfied waiting for the next one.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Nicholas Parvin
  • 26-12-21

Very excellent addition to The Spiral Wars

Loved it. Now can't wait for Ceephay Queen to be released(still no date yet though☹️)

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • shoshidge
  • 01-11-21

good listen

a bit more of the same but if you've made it this far that's probably OK with you, hopefully the next book move the story along more though