Read The Icarus Hunt by Timothy Zahn Online


Smuggler Jordan McKell has partner Ixil, an alien whose two "ferrets" ride his shoulders and telepathically exchange simple messages. They take a job on the odd-shaped ship Icarus. But the ragtag crew was found at taverns, the secret cargo sealed tight, the employer missing, and a saboteur is aboard. After a beautiful crew member helps uncover the nature of their cargo forSmuggler Jordan McKell has partner Ixil, an alien whose two "ferrets" ride his shoulders and telepathically exchange simple messages. They take a job on the odd-shaped ship Icarus. But the ragtag crew was found at taverns, the secret cargo sealed tight, the employer missing, and a saboteur is aboard. After a beautiful crew member helps uncover the nature of their cargo for Earth, Jordan suspects they are in a vast conspiracy set to change human history. Unfortunately, he's right....

Title : The Icarus Hunt
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780553573916
Format Type : Mass Market Paperback
Number of Pages : 457 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Icarus Hunt Reviews

  • Foomy
    2019-04-06 21:27

    A mystery, it just happens to be in space. I don't really have anything bad to say about this book. The characters are interesting, the premise and conflicts are fun, and you'll be trying to figure out what the heck is going on right up until the very end.Also, Zahn's world-building is in top form in this book. I can't stress this enough. He created a whole universe, just for this book, and made it seem incredibly vast. With a couple sentences he can introduce a brand new race, social order, or law of astrophysics, and fit them perfectly into the story without bogging you down in details. This very paragraph is less concise, yet less explanatory than many of Zahn's descriptions of entire worlds in this novel.This is the book I would hand someone who says anything to the effect of, "I don't read much science fiction, but it looks interesting. There is so much, though, where should I start?" Start right here, my friend. This is the sci-fi gateway drug.

  • Bryn
    2019-03-28 03:19

    The twist at the end was totally unexpected and awesome, and I had to reread the book almost immediately with the new information. This book also has one of my all-time favorite quotes:For a change, Lady Luck seemed to be smiling on me. Then again, maybe the fickle wench was just lulling me into a false sense of security while she reached for a rock.

  • Ivonne Rovira
    2019-04-07 23:16

    My husband and two of my sisters-in-law love science fiction. Me, not so much. The Icarus Hunt is the sci-fi book for people who don't like sci-fi, much as the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich is the mystery series for people who hate mysteries.What Timothy Zahn has created is basically a gumshoe novel based in space. His characterization is wonderful, and the plot is more than satisfying. I've recommended this book to just about everyone I know.And, you sci-fi fans, my husband -- a certified sci-fi geek -- loved this novel, too.

  • Bill Blume
    2019-03-26 22:05

    Timothy Zahn is one of my favorite writers. The Icarus Hunt provides a perfect example of why. He breaks a lot of rules, but he's got the skills to get away with it. From the first chapter, you can tell the main character Jordan McKell packs a lot of secrets. You don't get to all of those secrets in the first chapter, and he even manages to hold onto some big ones all the way to the final chapter. Hard enough to pull that off with any character in the novel, let alone the main character and with the story told in first person from his point-of-view. In a lesser writer's hands, the reader will sense they're being set up and lose interest in the story and characters.He also gets away with what looks like a lot of telling versus showing. Many scenes offer nothing but McKell bouncing theories off his partner, an alien named Ixil. These chapters work great, mounting the tension and stakes of the story instead of leaving the reader yawning.There's plenty for these two to discuss. Almost as soon as McKell gets recruited to pilot a mysterious ship called the Icarus, his troubles mount. He starts with plenty of problems anyway, deep in debt for a nasty sum of money to an even nastier group of smugglers who aren't too happy about his little side job on the Icarus. Things only get worse, culminating in a race between some of the most powerful empires in the galaxy to capture the Icarus and seize its secrets. The question is whether McKell can figure out that secret in time to save his hide and keep the Icarus out of the hands of the alien Patth who have a stranglehold on intergalactic shipping.Zahn has a gift for sci-fi noir. While I adore his work, I will admit that my last ride with him aboard the Night Train to Rigel didn't work for me as well as The Icarus Hunt. One thing he does well in all his books is handle alien cultures. He knows how to sneak in all the little details that make things so real. More than once, he has aliens attempt to mimic human gestures, but their efforts only emphasize their alien nature. He also builds worlds with familiar touches. Even with all the hi-tech stuff, he manages to sneak in present day cultural references that have lived into the future. For God's sake, he mentions Elvis and Mardi Gras. Perhaps the funniest place this shows up is in the clever false names McKell and his crew have to cook up for the Icarus as they slip onto one world after another with mixed results. One of my favorite false names given to the Icarus is the Stewed Brunswick.If you enjoy mystery and noir, you'll enjoy this book. If you like a book that takes you to far off, imaginary worlds that feel and smell real, you'll also love this book. Maybe you just love Timothy Zahn, and if that's the case, you need to get this book.

  • Ed [Redacted]
    2019-04-20 23:23

    Every time I read this authors name I imagine fat, old Kirk shaking his fist and yelling, "Zaaaaahhhhhn".Anyway, I actually read this because Nathan was wondering if Zahn was similar at all to David Weber. I hadn't read any Zahn before (except the first 30 pages or so of a Star Wars novel, I just can't read Star Wars novels for some reason, can't do it.)He rec'ed this one so here we are.The Icarus Hunt is the story of a renegade space smuggler Han Solo Jordan McKell, who is hired by a mysterious stranger to take some kind of mysterious, sealed cargo to Earth from whatever planet they were on that I don't feel like looking up. Along the way they run into a variety of problems and are soon on the lam from an evil alien species whose economic future is threatened by the mysterious cargo. Mystery abounds.This was a perfectly enjoyable novel, well paced with engaging characters and a mystery at the heart of the story. I enjoyed it very much but the story ended with an enormous DEM that kind of ruined the end of the book for me. It wrapped up everything way too neatly and left me felling like the author just was writing along and suddenly thought, "Oh shit, I have to wrap this up in, like, 30 pages". Oh well.To finally answer the question that started all of this, if this book is in any way representative of Zahn's writing style (and since this is the only example I have I am going to assume, for purposes of this review, that it is) then he and Weber have almost nothing in common. The Weber books I have read have been big on technology and extremely lengthy explanations of exactly how every...single...god...damned...thing works in sometimes excruciating detail. Weber's characters are paper thin for the most part, with the exception of Honor Harrington herself, she is well developed and a very good character. Zahn, on the other hand, appears to have better developed characters and a better sense of pacing and dialog. He either writes in a more personal style or the first person POV comes off that way while Weber's style seems more structured. Zahn and Weber are not similar except possibly in quality, they are both solid but not spectacular authors with significant strengths and significant weaknesses.

  • Johnny
    2019-04-18 01:04

    My younger brother, David, gave me this book. As I began to read it, I quickly realized why he did so. The protagonist, Jordan McKell, is amazingly similar to certain Traveller characters that my brother has played over the years. And also, let me say without spoiling it, that I was completely fooled as to the overall motivation of said protagonist. But when all was revealed in the final chapters, I knew why my brother had enjoyed this book so much.But before that final revelation/climax, I felt like I was reading a thinly disguised Star Wars novel. From the first description of the hyperspace design to the protagonist's partner (a large alien creature who seems smarter than his starship captain), I felt like I was reading an outline that had been rejected by Lucasfilm Licensing and sold as "generic" space opera. In many ways, it was "generic" space opera. Zahn does a solid job of conveying starship and personal combat. He even does an Agatha Christie-like job of shotgunning pellets of suspicion and innuendo at every member of the crew in order to keep one in suspense. However, I found the pacing to fall into a plodding walk at times and some of the intermediate obstacles to be painfully obvious and something I would have clicked past in a PC game.However, as much as I was taken unawares at the time of the climactic revelation, I felt cheated by the fact that there was not adequate foreshadowing to support the aforementioned revelation. I used Agatha Christie earlier as an example because the final unveiling felt a bit like the accusation directed at the Agatha Christie parody in the great murder mystery satire, Murder By Death. We simply weren't prepared for it. With a bit tighter pacing and just a little bit of character preparation for what happens at the conclusion, this would have been a 4-star book instead of merely an average read.

  • Ran
    2019-04-18 01:18

    Captain McKell takes a job to bring a ship, the Icarus, to Earth from the man who found it in an archeological dig on some backwater planet. This man, Alexander Borodin aka Arno Cameron, assembles a rag-tag team to man the ship. But everyone's out to capture the Icarus as an internal saboteur turns murderer. McKell got to figure out what's happening while keeping his crew alive and this ship free from enemy clutches. It's a very Sherlockian space drama. I did enjoy it but I also tend to be wary of Sherlock-characters. It had a few good twists. I don't know why twists don't generally entertain me ... maybe it bothers me that the big reveals were only possible for the lead because you the reader don't have all the details. Who knows.

  • Lyndon
    2019-04-13 23:26

    A brother of mine turned me on to SF writer Timothy Zahn (the author of a number of Star Wars novels as well as the Conquerors' Trilogy and Dragonback series). My introduction to Zahn came via The Icarus Hunt - a fun and fast-paced space opera jaunt through the galaxy. I thoroughly enjoyed the engaging characters, witty dialog and repartee, as well as the adventure laden plot (that reads like an Agatha Christie in space along with the requisite locked room mystery and Poirot-like denouement). Good, clean fun (with a few minor swear words and PG situations) - a solid book in which to introduce the genre to your junior higher! Don't let the 450 pages deter you either, quest/adventure novels have come a long way since Don Quixote. Zahn is a talented writer with an imagination that spices up the standard space opera trope with just the right amount (imo) of hard SF detail. The Icarus is a spaceship that is carrying an unknown cargo that could break the economic stranglehold of the Patth, an alien civilization that controls a majority of the commercial space lanes. Enter Captain Jordan McKell who is hired to pilot the Icarus to Earth - and along the way unravels a number of mysteries that spring up regarding this special cargo. The book is a page-turner as McKell jumps through space from one crisis to the next.I enjoy Zahn's first person narrative voice (via a Han Solo-esque protagonist); he nicely integrates dialog and action, weaving in the world-building and background information through POV reflection and conversation. If there is a quibble, it would be that his characters "grimace" too often. It's a descriptive word, but is almost as frequently used as "said" for a dialog marker. (I've noticed in the two other books I've read by Zahn that grimacing must be one of his writerly peccadillos.) Still, I can live with that since it doesn't take away from the story, and eventually one just ignores those markers.That said, if you're looking for an escape while hiking in the mountains or at the beach this summer, grab The Icarus Hunt and strap yourself in for a wild ride. (8 out of 10)

  • Michael Burnam-Fink
    2019-04-22 22:09

    Jordan McKell is a freelance smuggler, taking jobs in dingy spaceport bars when he's offered a contract to take a strange ship with a seal cargo of alien artifacts to Earth. When one of the crew is murdered by a saboteur, and alerts are put out for him and the ship, McKell realizes that he's stumbled into something big. The cargo of the Icarus could upend an interstellar transport monopoly, and a lot of people want to make sure that they get the benefit. It's up to McKell to figure out who to trust in his crew of strangers, along with his partner, an alien Ixil who's a composite being.Zahn blends gritty smuggler space opera a la Firefly or Han Solo with an Agatha Christie parlor murder. It's okay, though nothing to write home about. The setting seems cobbled together out of scifi tropes, rather than a cohesive vision of anything. And as a mystery, the alien tech allows for deus ex machina explanation of what happens, rather than a careful piecing together of clues. Finally, there's the twist. McKell isn't actually a smuggler, he's a deep undercover cop trying to bust a galactic crime lord. This makes some of his personality traits make more sense, but I'm not sure I like a bait and switch that big.

  • Ned Leffingwell
    2019-04-16 03:15

    Most nerds will know Timothy Zahn as the creating of Grand Admiral Thrawn for the Star Wars expanded universe. This book is s science fiction tale taking place in Zahn's own setting. It is a noir murder mystery space opera, where a crew is thrown together and has to deal with murder and treachery will piloting a mysterious spacecraft. I got this because the kindle version was on sale for $0.99 and I was familiar with the author. It was an entertaining read. I found all of the genre elements to be balanced well. The mystery did not overshadow the sci-fi and so on. Recommended for sci-fi fans and fans of Zahn's writing.

  • Miloș Dumbraci
    2019-04-17 01:28

    gave up after 120 pages (a quarter), because it felt like reading cartoons: fast and full of shiny colors, but completely shallow and uninteresting. Just a too cool glitzy hero kicking alien ass with amazing wit and bravado. Might have enjoyed it at 12-13 yo.

  • Jeff Miller
    2019-03-31 23:11

    Such a good story that takes some smuggler tropes and expands it into an action mystery.

  • travelgirlut
    2019-04-04 04:06

    A fun mystery set in space. I was able to guess the bad guy and the big reveal ahead of time, but there were still little things that were unexpected. I was entertained, and that's really all that matters.

  • Trike
    2019-04-12 20:24

    This is billed as a "space opera mystery" which sounds exciting. Action! Intrigue! Some sort of "hunt"!Unfortunately, it doesn't really come together, despite actually having those elements. Delivering on a promise sometimes doesn't work.Part of the problem here is that the book is too long and meandering. Mysteries tend to be taut. The Icarus Hunt could have used substantial trimming by the folks at Reader's Digest Condensed Books.Someone once said that an author's first novel should be a mystery, because it teaches you how to build a plot and placing clues within the text for the reader to ponder. It feels like Zahn's only exposure to mystery is really bad B-movies where the detective sums up everything at a dinner party, where he reveals the dastardly plot and exclaims, "And one of those present is the murrrrdererrr!" And that is exactly what happens here. Protagonist Jordan McKell gathers everyone together for dinner and says exactly that line.Go watch the funny 1982 movie Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (full movie free here on YouTube) where the detective and criminal mastermind have a "Reveal-Off" where they each try to out-compete the other in order to beat the other to revealing the plot. It's a funny send-up of this trope. I wish Zahn had seen that movie instead of only the bad movies they're mocking.He also uses the tired trick of simply not telling the reader what's happening. The old "He asked me what I needed, so I told him" gambit... then we later find out what those things are. Nine times out of ten this feels like an Ass Pull because there wasn't enough foreshadowing, and this happens in a big way at the end, and is then followed by a smaller version. The small one would have been a fine reveal if it hadn't just been preceded by an asspull that verges dangerously on a ridiculous deus ex machina.I give this book one star because it simply didn't work for me. The IDEA behind the story is fine, but the execution was too cliched and overlong.

  • Tom
    2019-04-07 01:30

    A pretty fun and fast-paced murder mystery/space chase thriller.The galaxy of the book is populated with not-very-alien aliens, much like Star Wars. But as much as I prefer biologically/behaviourally unique aliens in science fiction, the relative samey-ness of the world-building didn't really bother me, as the setting is really just an inconsequential backdrop for Zahn's mystery plot.I would have liked a little more character development, particularly for Ixil, who was the coolest and best character in the book (and one of the two main alien characters). Seriously, Ixil all the way. He deserves a book (or book series) about him. <3The twist at the end was pretty damn cool. There are actually a couple of twists in the last few chapters. The first is the solution to the mystery, which is surprising enough but admittedly not that exciting; but that's soon followed by an awesome twist about two of the characters that completely changes basically the whole book. I really enjoyed that.

  • Jamie Collins
    2019-03-25 20:26

    A pretty fun read. This author is best known for his Star Wars novels, and while this is not one of them, it’s set in similar universe where one walks into a bar and finds members of a dozen alien species all nursing their beers and waiting for someone to start a fight. Also, the protagonist is a smuggler, with an alien partner, who owes big money to a big bad guy.The plot is a version of a country house murder mystery. There’s a murder on board a spaceship, the crew are all strangers to each other, and at least one of them must be guilty. Meanwhile various hostile people are chasing them across the galaxy, in pursuit of the mysterious cargo the ship is carrying.The writing is serviceable, and once I got past the awkward introduction of the characters I was entertained by the plot. I even liked the twist at the end, which is corny but fits in well with the style of the book.

  • Noboby
    2019-04-10 02:22

    Don't expect anything exceptional here, but still a good read.As a science fiction novel, this is good stuff. Zahn does a great job with the setting and has a world that feels alive. Characters are pretty good, some of the relationships are streched a bit, but he makes up for it other ways. The plot was a bit weak, but that is explained by...As a mystery novel, this was not really good. I could tell hew as really trying hard to setup some classic mystery plot threads, but man, they were either too transparent or just poorly implemented. Having ready the complete works of Sherlock Holmes several times over, I would assume I am bit more critical than most, so please keep that in mind.Overall, if you are looking for a good quick read of a pulpy science fiction book, this is right there. Just don't expect anything else :)

  • Sarah E.
    2019-04-13 20:10

    - in brief: sci-fi suspense/mystery- expansion: Jordan McKell is a small-time cargo runner who is asked to captain a ship, the Icarus, across the Orion Arm and back to Earth. He is in over his head almost at once. A crew member is murdered, a ruthless organization is after the Icarus’ mysterious cargo, and Jordan’s own past is warring with his current problems to see which can kill him first.- my thoughts: Zahn can build a universe out of matchsticks and play-dough; this is perhaps his best, and most self-contained, novel.- my favorite character: Ixil. He has ferrets!

  • Mary JL
    2019-04-10 04:15

    Another winner for a reliable SF pro. Timothy Zahn as always tells a very good tale. Lots of humor, excitement and adventure. The synopsis above is very good, so I don't need to say much about the plot.Jordan McKell reminds me q bit of Han Solo---but his alien partner, Ixil, is a very intriguing character---Zahn creates interesting aliens, as usual.Recommended for any SF fan ;will be especially enjoyed if you like action and adventure SF.

  • Alice
    2019-04-07 04:31

    The ending made this book worth trudging through long descriptions of (what seemed like) nothingness. Normally I see plot twists coming, but this was fabulous!

  • Beth
    2019-04-20 22:15

    Holy cow! This is without doubt my favorite book. it is an intense read, with a twist that is completely unexpected.

  • Natalie Keating
    2019-03-31 01:30

    This book is AMAZING and everything that science fiction should be! Massive spoilers to follow, so you have been warned...(view spoiler)[Smuggler Jordan McKell, who works for an organized crime syndicate, is hired as part of a ragtag crew to transport... something aboard a spaceship. Right away, things start to go wrong. The ship's mechanic dies in an act of sabotage disguised as an accident. Jordan replaces him with Ixil, his partner in crime who is an alien (and totally awesome) and they continue on their way. There are obstacles at every turn because as it turns out, the ship is carrying cargo that an alien species called the Patth really, really want. In fact, they want it badly enough that they're willing to kill for it.Anyway, Jordan and his comrades finally make it to an empty resort on a planet for wealthy vacationers. Along the way, Jordan and Ixil have figured out that the cargo isn't valuable—it's the ship itself that's valuable. Originally, they thought it was because the ship had a stardrive that would enable faster travel, and therefore massive economic advantages, but that isn't it. Jordan accidentally discovers that the ship actually contains a portal that instantly transports people to another realm, for lack of a better term. The leader of the crime syndicate shows up at the empty resort to take the ship and kill Jordan and his crew.Except, as it turns out, Jordan isn't actually a smuggler. I LOVED this twist: Jordan is actually working for law enforcement to bring down crime syndicates, along with Ixil, who is his boss. They succeed in arresting the leader of the crime syndicate and some of his top-ranking cronies. All in all, this is an AMAZING book. I like it so much I might just go read it again. (hide spoiler)]

  • Arminion
    2019-04-08 22:16

    I never read Timothy Zahn before so I really didn't know what to expect. I also don't usually read SF, so I was pretty sure I wouldn't like this book. But boy, was I wrong! Right from the start, Zahn introduces us to a cast of interesting characters and cool action scenes. The book follows two smugglers Jordan McKell and his alien partner Ixil on a mission to drive the star ship Icarus back to Earth. The ship contains a mysterious cargo that many people want their hands on. As if that is not enough, there is a murderer on board, so it's not only a race to arrive on Earth in one piece, but also to uncover the culprit.It's a great book, full of suspense, mystery, witty dialog and action. I was even thinking of giving this book five stars, but in the end I decided against it, mainly because of two reasons: I didn't really like the deus ex machina moments at the end, as well as the whole plot is a little repetitive (view spoiler)[(Icarus lands on a planet, McKell goes on a surface, gets in trouble, barely escapes, then repeat that formula for all the other planets) (hide spoiler)]. Despite all this, I recommend this book, even if you are not usually in SF (like me) as it contains a lot more than that.

  • Christine
    2019-04-09 02:24

    It was an OK book, but because I quickly scanned the reviews on here I was prepared for some twist and started to look out for some clues. So I managed to foresee some if the revelations but not all. It was a good ending therefore. But what bugged me is that there were a lot of very old fashioned things in place for a space adventure. Plastic space port chips, paper and pens, paper 'wanted' flyers, paper money! Really! Even other authors writing books in the '80s and '90s managed to imagine technology a bit further advanced with regards to electronics in that sense. This really dated the book for me! But nevertheless, it didn't really detract in the end from a good story. Reminded me a bit of an Alistair McLean in space :-)

  • Benjamin Espen
    2019-03-27 20:07

    This was the first of Zahn's books that I've read that wasn't someone else's characters. In some ways, I think I knew what I was getting into, but I was still pleased at how well done this book is. The Icarus Hunt is typical space opera, opening in a shady bar full of strange aliens in a spaceport far far away. What was a little different is that The Icarus Hunt is a whodunit mystery competently executed in that space opera mode. There are hints in the book that can be weaved together, but it was truly a mystery up until the end. I found this book a hoot, and I would recommend it to any of Zahn's fans who hasn't read it, or just any sci fi fan looking for something new to them.

  • Filip
    2019-03-29 04:06

    A really good space opera. It has everything - nice characters (though the ones apart from the protagonist are a bit lacking in depth), good pace and plotting, a great setting (though in urgent need of more exposition) and many quite clever, though completely rational and understandable plot twists.It was a pleasure to read it and even though I figured some stuff out, the book still managed to surprise me. The biggest downside to me was a bit rushed ending - I mean it was perfect but with no aftermath - and the fact that I would love to get more information about the setting and the races that live there.

  • Eero
    2019-04-22 00:13

    Murder mystery wrapped in an old-style space adventureOne main impression I got while reading was that the milieu seemed to be designed to be adapted for film: the aliens are basically what you would see in science fiction movies, the furniture and tech feel familiar and even deliberately old-fashioned. Maybe it is just the author's experience with media tie-ins like his Star wars novels. Anyway, within this media friendly scifi universe he has constructed a fun light read which combines a number of mysteries. One of those even has a Poirotian resolution where the hero gathers the characters together to hear his deductions.

  • Jim Garrison
    2019-03-30 04:25

    Hit me hurt me make me read more by Tim Zahn!I especially enjoy stand alone novels that resolve all questions before the final curtain. This work meets that description. This story should be classified as a SciFi mystery. The characters are well developed. The plot keeps you glued to the page. And, the answers to all questions elude a reader until the last few pages. I read a great deal of space opera works. I can't remember when I enjoyed one,as much as I did "The Icarus Hunt".

  • Jamie Rich
    2019-03-25 00:17

    The Icarus Hunt (Mass Market Paperback) by Timothy Zahn Hmmm... What a fun read! It's a SciFi, murder mystery, whodunit, political thriller. With lots of characters who make for an entertaining read. Our erstwhile heroes are some rather clumsy smugglers, who stumble into a trading mission that upsets the balance of economic and geographic powers that be. Toss in some truly bad baddies, and some very twisted plot lines, and scratch you head trying to figure it all out. Oh, and an ending that was unexpected and very satisfying. Pick this one up and enjoy the trip!

  • TJ
    2019-03-27 00:04

    Outstanding space opera-mysteryIt isn't that often that an author manages to successfully merge genres, here space opera and mystery. Though written under the Star Wars name, this space opera owes little or nothing to that venerable franchise. It is an extremely well written mystery in space with sharply drawn characters and a twisty plot. It's the most entertaining book I've read in quite a while. Most highly recommended.