Cover image for The octagonal raven
The octagonal raven
Modesitt, L. E., Jr., 1943-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York: Tor, 2001.
Physical Description:
398 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Being a child of wealth hasn't made life easy for Daryn Alwyn but he hasn't wanted it easy and he's always been determined to choose his own path, abandoning the possibility of power and leisure with his family's giant Media Network for a solo career, first as a military space pilot, later as a freelance media consultant. Only when he becomes the target of a series of deadly attacks does he begin to realize the true depth of responsibility his heritage forces on him. And when his sister is assassinated and he becomes one of the wealthiest people in the world he learns that his real troubles are only beginning.

Author Notes

Leland Exton Modesitt, Jr., was born on October 19, 1943 in Denver to Leland Exton and Nancy Lila Modesitt. He was educated at Williams College and earned a graduate degree from the University of Denver. Modesitt's career has included stints as a navy lieutenant, a market research analyst, and a real estate sales associate. He has also held various positions within the U.S. government as a legislative assistant and as director of several agencies. In the early 1980s, he was a lecturer in science fiction writing at Georgetown University.

After graduation, Modesitt began to write, but he did not have a novel published until he was 39 years old. He believes that a writer must "simultaneously entertain, educate and inspire... [failing any one of these goals], the book will fall flat." A part-time writer, he produces an average of one book per year, but he would eventually like to write full-time. The underlying themes of many of his science fiction novels are drawn from his work in government work and involve the various aspects of power and how it changes the people and the structure of government. Usually, his protagonist is an average individual with hero potential. Much of his "Forever Hero Trilogy"--Dawn for a Distant Earth, The Silent Warrior, and In Endless Twilight--is based on his experiences working with the Environmental Protection Agency. He made The New York Times Best Seller List in 2012 with his title Princeps.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Modesitt departs from labor on his various series to field a freestanding, plausible near-future thriller. In a world in which genetic enhancement has created an effective oligarchy of wealth and ability, intrigues among that oligarchy have become as numerous as those of the Italian Renaissance. Backstabbing abounds, sometimes literally. Daryn Alwyn, a member of one oligarchic family, is a major player in the global media system. He has used his enhancements to also compile a notable record as an athlete and a combat pilot. His combined physical and mental agility save his life when the head of the family, his sister, is assassinated. After that, it requires all his skills to survive, as he becomes one of the ruling oligarchs and, therefore, a more lucrative target for his enemies. Daryn resembles some of the protagonists in Modesitt's other books yet is well developed in his own right. The pacing is excellent, and the sociopolitical expatiating on the plot proves integral to the story, not just sermonizing. --Roland Green

Publisher's Weekly Review

North by Northwest meets Logan's Run in this SF novel, complete with intriguing philosophical passages, by the author of The Saga of Recluce series. The result is an action-oriented, if somewhat didactic, thriller. At some point in the distant future someone is trying to kill space pilot and media consultant Daryn Alwyn. His attackers presumably want to make him a martyr, though the actual motives behind repeated attempts on his life are far more mysterious. Well born and with preselected genetic advantages, Alwyn seeks out his attackers, including the beautiful but enigmatic Elysa Mujaz-Kitab. When his sister is killed, Alwyn suddenly becomes one of the wealthiest men in the world, and the stakes are raised still higher. The surprising conclusion sees Alwyn becoming a hero to some, a villain to others, and leads the author to a detailed dissection of the inner workings of the powerful elite that runs society. Heinlein once exhorted SF writers to be boldly imaginative in projecting the world of tomorrow; by contrast, Modesitt's distant future looks and sounds remarkably like 2001: the computer-system equivalents are similar to the PCs and Macs of today, and everyone seems to speak in the argot of the late 20th century. Still, Modesitt handles action sequences capably--the attempts on Alwyn's life are intriguingly detailed--and the mystery-suspense angle is thoughtfully adumbrated. For readers seeking a hybrid of the SF and spy genres with a soupon of mystery, this rates as passable if slightly elongated--entertainment. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Born to privilege and wealth, former space pilot Daryn Alwyn enjoys life as a media consultant until he becomes the target for an assassin and finds himself on the run from hidden and powerful enemies. The author of the "Recluce" series demonstrates his talent for near future techno-thrillers in this standalone tale of intrigue and adventure. Modesitt's careful examination of his characters' motivations and perceptions creates a sense of immediacy that lends credibility to his story. A good choice for sf collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter 1 Earth Orbit, 375 N.E. Had the orbital watch alert satellite contained a human being, or even a sophisticated duoclone, that being might have scanned the data and reported something like, Object classified as cometoid...spherical-octagonal, diameter forty-three meters, density two point five, composition approximately eight-two point four percent water...carbides and carbonates approximately fifteen percent...iron and sulfides, silicates and oxides below detection levels...orbital...trajectory at variance with origin in either Oort Cloud or Kuiper Belt... Instead, the AI merely squirted its data analysis to the Long Watch Asteroid Collision Center satellite inhabiting the L5 point above the water planet below. In turn, the AI calculated orbital mechanics, trajectory, and mass composition and, after ensuring the object did not trigger any action parameters, stored the data for later retrieval. In time, the comet-like object intersected the thin upper atmosphere on the planet's night side, creating a long and brilliant trail that flashed across the high latitudes and lasted but for a few long seconds before vanishing. The thousands of particle-sized contaminants also eventually slowed and began to drift through the atmosphere toward the oceans and landmasses below. The central AI in the Long Watch Asteroid Collision Center satellite received the report of the ice-meteorite's dissolution and added the data to the records of others of that class. Eventually, a human methodizer reviewed the date, frowned at the octagonal dimensions, checked it again, and then shrugged. Copyright © 2001 by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. Excerpted from The Octagonal Raven by L. E. Modesitt All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.