War Factory (Polity: Transformation #2) ★★★★☆

d256c6276aa7e43ce7408d202cdf0f95This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: War Factory
Series: Polity: Transformation #2
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 472
Format: Digital Edition



There are viewpoints from: Captain Blight and Crew, who Penny Royal the Black AI hitches rides with; Sverl the Prador who is turning into a human, prador and AI, Thorvald Spear who started out hunting down Penny Royal and now carries out its wishes; Cvorn the Prador who is trying to re-start the war between the Polity and the Prador Kingdom; Oberon the King of the Prador who seems to be a Spatterjay virus infected Prador who is trying to change his subjects so they can survive long term; and finally The Brockle, a forensic AI who pretty much tortures people and other AI who have committed crimes until the Polity gets what they want from the criminals, the Brockle considers Penny Royal to be the biggest criminal in the Polity to date.

Penny Royal seems to be trying to figure something out but nobody is sure exactly what that is. In the process it is fixing many of its past mistakes, most of which are included in the list of POV’s above.

The End Point is Room 101, a War Factory (hence the name of the book) from the war and the journey is getting everyone there at the proper time.


My Thoughts:

It has only been 3 years since I last read this but really, aside from from a couple of overall things, it was like reading a brand new book. It probably doesn’t help that the synopsis is so vague because of how many viewpoints there are that are interweaving for the whole book.

Speaking of viewpoints, Asher handled them like a champ. Unlike that rat custard Gwynne, I never got annoyed reading them during this book. When a view point would change, I never felt like I was leaving something undone and wanted to stay. Asher wove his story adroitly and expertly and I for one appreciated that.

The only real downside was that Asher once again delves into crustacean sex, like he did in one of his spatterjay books. I don’t know why he finds giant crabs doing it exciting, but he sure does. Doesn’t matter if it is used as a device to kill Cvorn later on, but having Cvorn cut off a younger crabs genitals, stitch them on himself and then use them to have sex for again for the first time in decades is just not something I really want to read about. However, it is unique. So if you are looking for a unique reading experience, you’ll get that here!

I did like how Asher delves into what is murder. Being an atheist, he approaches it from the complete cessation of existence. So a society that can recreate an entity if they’ve recorded themselves onto crystal has to decide what is murder. Asher, like many technologists of today, simply assumes that the brain and every biological part, CAN be recorded and that we are nothing but a collection of data. It doesn’t bother me because this is a universe in which AI exist. Throw in some dragons and the probability factor doesn’t actually change, if you know what I mean.

Half of the action was spaceship oriented, which isn’t my thing, but thankfully the other half was all groundpounder action. Now THAT is my thing.



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Dark Intelligence (Polity: Transformation #1) ★★★★½

f5c20b1147913d15c73b181229ed7c8cThis review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Dark Intelligence
Series: Polity: Transformation #1
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Format: Digital Edition



Thorvald Spear wakes up in a hospital. Which is odd, because he remembers being killed by a Polity AI named Penny Royal, almost 100 years ago, an AI that was supposed to be rescuing him and his men on a Prador occupied world. With his memory still a bit glitchy, Spear does know one thing for certain, Penny Royal must die.

Spear tracks down Penny Royal’s old spaceship. With the help of a powerful gangster named Isabel Satomi, who made a deal of her own with Penny Royal and is now regretting it, Spear plans on tracking Penny Royal down to whatever hidden lair it’s hiding in. With Satomi’s transformation having gone a bit further than anticipated (she’s turning into a hooder), Spear abandons her and sets out on his own.

Satomi wanted revenge on Penny Royal for the changes it started in her. But with Spear’s betrayal, she’ll happily kill him too. She heads to a world in the Graveyard (an area of space between the Polity and the Prador Kingdom where neither has an official presence) where she can gather her forces and pursue Spear and then Penny Royal. While on The Rock Pool, a world ruled by a prador named Sverl who also made a deal with Penny Royal, the other Prador revolt against Sverl and he is forced to help Satomi if either of them want to survive.

All during this time Penny Royal has been dancing around and through everything, apparently orchestrating “something”. It shows up at Masada, an apparent guest of the newly sentient Atheter. Both Spear and Satomi also show up at Masada. Satomi is now a complete biomech warmachine, like the Technician before its demise. With such a weapon, the Atheter can now claim full control of Masada and kick the Polity out.

Satomi’s consciousness is pulled from the hooder into a crystal memplant. Spear realizes he has been manipulated this whole time so Penny Royal can begin making good on all the bad things it did while a Black AI.


My Thoughts:

The only reason I didn’t give this 5 stars this time around was because there was a very awkward, unnecessary and completely gratuitous sex scene ¾ of the way through the book. Other than that, I loved this book, again.

It has only been about 4 years since I initially read this but that is something like 600 books ago, so this was a good refresher. I remembered some of the larger details but that didn’t in anyway detract from my enjoyment.

The first time I read this Penny Royal kind of came out of leftfield because I hadn’t been paying any attention to mentions of it in previous Polity books. On my re-read of the Polity, I paid more attention to that and now it is paying dividends.

Asher is not telling disconnected stories all set in his Polity universe. Each series builds on the previous ones but without turning into a Never Ending Series. Each series has a definite beginning and a definite end, as does each book. You have no idea how much I appreciate an author that still writes that way.

I would not recommend starting Asher’s Polity with this book. While you could, I guess, there is just too much in the background that you need to have read in his previous book for this to make sense.



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Infinity Engine (Transformation #3) (Polity) ★★★★☆

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This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title:      The Infinity Engine
Series:   Polity: Transformation #3
Author:  Neal Asher
Rating:   4 of 5 Stars
Genre:    SF
Pages:    575
Format:  Digital Edition



The End Game is in sight. Penny Royal, that black AI that nobody can seem to predict, control or even understand, continues to move the players like chess pieces.

Prador and Humanity move together as the Atheter makes it clear that it won’t be kept on Masada. The Brockle is convinced that it is destined to take Penny Royal’s place. There are a lot of players, a lot of threads and Penny Royal weaves them altogether with a Black Hole.

And pretty much becomes a god and watches the end of the universe and it’s beginning and it tries to figure out how to stop the loop.


My Thoughts:

I thought this was the best of the trilogy. With various threads coming together, it is easier to understand what is actually going on. And the ending is the wry humor I expect from Asher.

The one thing I didn’t care for was Asher’s continued needling of religion. In several cases anyone who is religious is compared to a mentally ill person who obviously can’t think straight. I’ve also realized that Asher always makes any Separatists idiotic douchebags just to show how awesome it is to always bow to a greater central authority. I spit on that. He continually makes his point [with battle axe bluntness sometimes] about how powerful the Polity AI’s are and how much the humans really NEED them to run things. But this whole trilogy was about how poorly the AI’s DO handle things. They are not omniscient, all powerful beings. They’re just as flawed as their creators and even “self” improvement leads to problems half the time. So Asher pretty much argues against the case he makes in the first place. So phrack Central Authority. It’s called Responsibility.

The character that I liked the most this time around was Sverl, the prador turned AI with a golem body. How weird is that? But Sverl does a fantastic job of showing multiple points of view from one character, as he has aspects of Prador, AI and humanity, all rolled into one. I don’t know what it is, but something about him just appealed to me.

I think that for whatever Asher writes next, I am going to wait to read the whole thing instead of reading them as they come out. There was too much going on for me to remember everything from book to book and I know that lessened my overall enjoyment.




  1. Dark Intelligence
  2. War Factory

War Factory (Transformation #2) (Polity) 4….

d256c6276aa7e43ce7408d202cdf0f95This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot. wordpress.leafmarks.com & Bookstooge’s Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.





Title: War Factory

Series: Transformation

Author: Neal Asher

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 472

Format: Kindle Digital Edition



Penny Royal is now taking a more active approach. His next goal is the War Factory where he was created. Room 101. However, in getting there, he drags along a host of his past mistakes which he appears to be trying to fix.

One of those mistakes is Sverl, a prador who is turning into a prador/human/ai combo. Spear, from the previous book, is still along. Also tagging along is Captain Blite, who seems to be more of an observer than a mistake.


My Thoughts:

Sverl seemed to be the biggest character portrayed this time around. Satomi from the previous book is mentioned but that is it. Spear, Blite and some other humans all kind of blend into the “human” faction. We are also introduced to another AI, the Brockle, who seems to be heading towards the same path that Penny Royal once trod.

Convoluted is the term that comes to mind when I think of my time reading this book. Other Asher books have been complex and multilayered, but Penny Royal seems totally inscrutable and so a lot of what happens just seem random.  And speaking of convoluted, it helps your understanding of this book if you’ve read Asher’s book Cowl, in which he describes some the drawbacks of time travel. If you’ve not read it, you’ll just nod and accept.

It did not enhance my enjoyment of this book that at the same time I was reading this, all the chaos about Booklikes being sold [potentially] came out. I was distracted and not focusing on reading nearly so much. I KNOW that made this not as enjoyable as it could have been. It kind of pisses me off that a booksite related issue had a deleterious effect on my reading enjoyment. Kind of like a chef screaming in your face while you’re trying to enjoy a good dinner.

Dark Intelligence (Transformation #1) (Polity)

f5c20b1147913d15c73b181229ed7c8cThis review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot.wordpress.leafmarks.com & Bookstooge’s Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission.

Title: Dark Intelligence

Series: Transformation, Polity

Author: Neal Asher

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

Genre: SFF

Pages: 416




Penny Royal, a rogue A.I. that went black after the Human/Prador war, is back. It should be dead.

One man and one woman, working with and against each other and Penny Royal, seek it out to find out what has happened.

But how do you fight an A.I. that can turn you into another creature or change your very memories?

That is what Spear and Satomi must figure out if they want answers to their questions and an end to their quest for vengeance against Penny Royal.


My Thoughts:

I love Neal Asher’s Polity books. Hard Technology [as opposed to High Fantasy] and ultra-violence all wrapped into a thrill ride where you don’t know which way is sideways or how you’ll get there.

I always know I’ll enjoy these books and hence tend to save them. But at some point I just have to start eating and then I enjoy every minute of it.

Even though the book is ostensibly about Penny Royal, everything is through the eyes of Spear and Satomi, both whom have been wacked by Penny in one way or another. So it starts out as a Quest for Vengeance type story but as you read along, both Spear and Satomi realize that things don’t quite add up. By the end of this book [it is supposed to be a trilogy] it appears that this story is a story of Redemption and making things right.  However, my experience with Asher leads me to believe that the convolutedness of this story is JUST beginning and that I still don’t have a clue as to the End Game.

I did knock off half a star for the 2 unnecessary sex scenes. They weren’t “explicit” but were graphic enough that I thought noting them was necessary.   I also added the “Ultra-Violent” tag, but to be honest, I had to stop and think about it. So I’m either getting jaded or Asher is getting mellow.

To end, a really fun book that continues my love affair with Asher’s Polity Universe.


Line War (Polity: Agent Cormac #5) ★★★☆ ½

Linewar (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Line War
Series: Polity: Agent Cormac #5
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 580
Format: Digital Edition



Erebus, the rogue AI that has been corrupted by Jain nodes, is on the path to destroying the solar system. With fake attacks and whatnot, he manages to clear the way to Earth itself. Standing in his way is the haiman who committed murder for a jain node and Ian Cormac.

Cormac has been running all over the Polity, ostensibly chasing down Erebus but in reality picking up clues that lead him to only one conclusion. ECS, the Head Honcho AI, colluded with Erebus right when Erebus first found jain nodes. Its justification was that humanity was stagnating,but with millions and possibly billions dead, Cormac puts the smack down on that particular AI and kills it. A submind takes over but with the spectre of Cormac haunting it should it ever decide to go so outside of bounds.

The Dragon Sphere takes Mika and allows her access to Jain AI, which in turn allows her to deal with the gabbleduck/Atheter AI, possibly.


My Thoughts:

Nothing from my original review from 2010 has changed. This was a particularly wordy story and there were a lot of details that just didn’t need to be there. It really bogged the story down. Instead of an adrenaline filled gorefest of robots and monsters I got an indepth tour of things I didn’t care one whit about. That’s why I knocked half a star off this time.

There is still a lot of action but sometimes it felt like it was really hidden away. Also, Cormac played a MUCH smaller part. The biggest thing he did was at the end when he killed ECS. I guess this just didn’t stand up to a re-read as well as some of the previous books. The ideas were really cool the first time around and covered up all the weak points. This time around, I was seeing the weakpoints.

I had forgotten that the Atheter memcrystal came into play so early in the Polity books. I just read a big part of it’s conclusion in the Polity: Transformation trilogy last year. That is one nice thing about re-reads, seeing various threads that you’d forgotten about being more deeply woven into the story.

I do wonder if we’ll ever see Agent Cormac again. He hasn’t shown up, that I’m aware of, in later Polity books. But if we don’t, I’m completely satisfied with how this 5 books sub-series ended.

★★★☆ ½



  1. Line War (2010 Review)
  2. Polity Agent (Book 4)
  3. Brass Man (Book 3)
  4. The Line of Polity (Book 2)
  5. Gridlinked (Book 1)
  6. Polity: Transformation Trilogy


Brass Man (Polity: Agent Cormac #3) ★★★★☆

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This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Brass Man
Series: Polity: Agent Cormac #3
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 505
Format: Digital Edition



Skellor, that lovable rapscallion who just wants to kill Ian Cormac and destroy the Polity with Jain tech, is back! His personal infestation of jain seems to be out of control, so he digs up Mr Crane (the titular Brass Man) and starts looking for another Dragon sphere. Because sure as shooting, the Dragon knows all about the Jain tech.

Obviously the Polity can’t have this, so they send in Agent Cormac, again. His abilities are growing and it would appear that he’s on the path to becoming Horace Blegg Jr. He tracks down Skellor to a small world that lost their Polity roots hundreds of years ago. Skellor thinks it’s a great place to hide, which is what the Dragon thought too, until Skellor found it. Skellor spreads jain tech willy-nilly to take over a bunch of people and begins killing them. Cormac becomes his hostage and they all head out to space. Where they have an encounter with a brown hole and Skellor gets his and Cormac is rescued by a rogue AI. Another leg of this book is about Rogue AI’s who want the jain tech for themselves and cause problems for everyone, including their daddy, who has to kill some of them. Tough love baby.

Mr Cranes segments are all mixed up memories from his inception to his present state. He was hexed with some schizo software, stolen by rebels and loaded up with a killer’s memories and instincts. All served to break his ego into pieces and he’s been playing at trying to put himself together again. With the help of Dragon, and an AI in the body of a vulture, he succeeds and walks off into the sunset.

Finally, there is a storyline about 2 people from the little planet. One’s a knight who is on a quest to kill a dragon and the other is a young man who was going to rob him until he realized what a badass the knight actually was. A mentor storyline.


My Thoughts:

Asher likes messed up AI’s and multiple personalities. That was the whole gist of his later Transformation trilogy that ended this year.

Anyway, this was violent. Between jain tech & Skellor invading peoples brains, Mr Crane’s memories, Ian Cormac and monsters on the little world, you run the full gamut of dismemberment to “light mist” splatterification.

That Skellor was a total psyche job. He made for a great villain though, as he was just ruthlessly “bad” and there was no moral grey areas. I like my badguys to be really despicable, the kind of badguy who you can’t help but root for their downfall. Skellor filled that admirably. But with his ending up in a brown hole (I kind of glossed over Asher’s pseudo-science explanation of WHAT a brown hole is) I hope Asher can come up with a suitably good Bad Guy for the final 2 books of the Agent Cormac series. Jain tech and its completely destructive nature goes on, but that type of threat needs a face to make it a villain.

Mr Crane’s storyline, while interesting, just didn’t have the punch you’d expect from being the Title of the Book. He seemed more like the marinade of the story instead of the steak. And speaking of marinade, that knight/mentor storyline. It had nothing to do with this, except it took place on the small world (I am refusing to look up its name because it is too small for me to care about), and they overlapped with the big climactic ending with Skellor, Ian, Dragon and the various AI’s. If this book was an RPG (role playing game), the knight’s story would have been the backstory of a NPC (non player character) who dies 2 minutes after you meet him. It filled up space and allowed us a wider view of the little world, but it didn’t advance the story any.

While I rated this the same as I did back in ’10, I suspect I would have rated it 4.5 back then and dropped it to 4 this time. A lot of my attraction last time was the newness factor and with that gone, blood and guts only gets you so far. Still thoroughly enjoyed it, but I won’t be raving about this book like I might have back then.



  1. Brass Man (2010 Review)
  2. Gridlinked (Book 1)
  3. Line of Polity (Book 2)

July ’19 Roundup & Ramblings



Raw Data:

17 Books

4703 Pages

Average Rating of 3.29


The Bad:

The last couple of volumes of Shaman King


The Good:

Death Wish – 5 Stars & Best Book of the Year tag

O Jerusalem! – 4.5 Stars and a wonderful way to kick off my foray into Non-fiction

Dark Intelligence – 4.5 Stars and Neal Asher just doesn’t disappoint.



Oh, what do I say about this? I knew I had to binge read Shaman King to get through it but realizing the series had been cancelled and the manga-ka having to wrap things up in 1 volume made for an extremely messy end. It also made for a bleeding month of boringness for those of you who regularly follow me. My numbers did take a big hit because of how I crammed 12 volumes in but I knew that going in. I would like to thank you all who read, liked and/or commented on them all. I know for a fact that it wasn’t easy from your end either and I appreciate the tip of the hat of support.

Now that Shaman King is done, I think I’m done with manga for the foreseeable future. I might read the occasional volume here or there, but nothing like what I attempted with Oh My Goddess or Shaman King.  I’ve changed enough that 90% of manga is no longer targeted towards me and I just need to realize that.



Didn’t do a specific movie only post but did review both of the Death Wish movies in comparison to each other and the book. A Triple Shot of Death Wishes. You didn’t ask for it, but I gave it to you anyway!


Miscellaneous And Personal:

Did a really fun Ratings as Sandwiches post that I had a blast writing. Because of it, I’ve been eating toasted tomato sandwiches every week now, so good!  Wrote my own version of the End of the World As We Know It and realized I’m just not any sort of musician, not even a bad one.  Started the month off right with a Quote from Death Wish and that seemed to set the tone for my reading. If I was a Roman Catholic, I might have taken the Seven Deadly (Book) Sins post more seriously, but alas, as a Protestant, I didn’t.

August is going to be filled with Mrs B traveling to see her Parental Pods and one of my Parental Pods making a swing through the area. Thankfully, I’m staying put so no one has to worry that the planet will go out of orbit due to all this excessive “traveling” business that is going on.

♪Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,♪
♪When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?♪
♪When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,♪
♪Will your anchor drift or firm remain?♪

That’s me,  Bookstooge, your friendly, neighborhood planet anchor. Remember kids, Gravity is a conspiracy by The Man to keep you down!


WBCI: (World Book Czar Initiative)

Quickbeam went off the deep end and made me reaffirm my lofty goal of paving the planet. Next month will be with HAL 1000 and I suspect that will be the final WBCI post. Much like the Surviving a Bad Book series, the WBCI is running out of steam.


Cover Love:

Dark Intelligence wins this one. Asher writes great SF and some of his covers are pure SF’ness itself. I love it!




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