I had some real issues with this book, which is one of the reasons it took me so long to get through. For the most part, the book is just an adventure story. A young man is enticed into joining a young-ish woman on a quest, and he does his best to bring about a successful conclusion. While many of the action scenes within the quest are entertaining, others are confusing and strain the suspension of disbelief.
The most glaring issue, though, comes during the off-times. When the protagonists are in the clear, even if it’s just for a few minutes, the author fillibusters. These long discussions about various political and and economic systems are obviously there to let the author preach. It’s really annoying, and too obvious to be effective.
I know that Heinlein is pretty notorious for this, and usually I don’t mind since he often connects the social issues into the narrative of the story in some way or another, but in this book it just didn’t work. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that it was completely unnecessary. There was no insight into the culture of the world, it was just some characters going on about something to pass the time.
This definitely wasn’t my favorite Heinlein book. I may even go so far as to say that it’s the first one I actually disliked. Aside from the fillibustering, there were just a lot of things that didn’t work for me. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters. I thought that the main quest of the story was too simple, but all the minor pieces of the quest were overly complex. I didn’t like how there were half-hearted explanations about the science that eventually just devolved into ‘just call it magic, that’s easier.’ It was just a whole book of problem after problem.
Sorry about the rant, but it’s been quite a while since I’ve gone through a book that was not just difficult to enjoy, but was also difficult to find any part of the book that was good.