The Warship (Polity: Rise of the Jain #2) ★★★★☆


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 Warship
Series: Polity: Rise of the Jain #2
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 350
Words: 138K



Synopsis:

Cobbled Together from Various Places

Orlandine has destroyed the alien Jain super-soldier by deploying an actual black hole. And now that same weapon hoovers up clouds of lethal Jain technology, swarming within the deadly accretion disc’s event horizon. All seems just as she planned. Yet behind her back, forces incite rebellion on her home world, planning her assassination.

Earth Central, humanity’s ruling intelligence, knows Orlandine was tricked into releasing her weapon, and fears the Jain are behind it. The prador king knows this too – and both foes gather fleets of warships to surround the disc.

The alien Client is returning to the accretion disc to save the last of her kind, buried on a ship deep within it. She upgrades her vast weapons platform in preparation, and she’ll need it. Her nemesis also waits within the disc’s swirling dusts – and the Jain have committed genocide before.

When the Clade, a swarm AI, assassinates multiple nodes of Orlandine’s consciousness, the Polity and the bellicose alien Prador Kingdom are alarmed and send armadas to the Jaskoran system. On Jaskor, Clade units cause further mayhem as they employ war and assassin drones to battle the no-longer-human (but still sympathetic) Captain Trike, who’s been overcome and made monstrous by the Spatterjay virus. Meanwhile, in the vicinity of the accretion disc, something mysterious is emerging from Underspace, and the Polity fears it’s a Jain ship.

In the end, Orlandine survives, the Jaskoran system is declared a 3rd party “empire” by both Polity and AI, Trike embraces his Spatterjay/Jain transformation, the Clade are dead and a fully deranged Jain Warship has escaped into the galaxy.

My Thoughts:

So, here is what I am finding with Asher’s books. I enjoy them pretty well on the first read through. It doesn’t really wow me or leaving me desperately wanting to read the next one but I enjoy it immensely and don’t feel cheated in any way, ie, time or money. However, any re-reads seem to get me past a barrier and I REALLY enjoy the books. Weird huh?

That was just a roundabout way of saying that this book was pretty good and I enjoyed it, but not as much as my previous Polity reads. In fact, my enjoyment of this new trilogy is following the exact same footprint as when I read the Transformation trilogy (which dealt with the black AI Penny Royal). I fully expect to enjoy it more the next time I do a Polity re-read.

One thing I am really liking about this trilogy is the inclusion of Spatterjay Hooper Old Captains and Prador. This time around, we also get a Prador vessel that is akin in size and power to the Cable Hogue, a legendary Polity vessel that has appeared in earlier books. We get to see a lot more how the spatterjay virus has and is changing the Prador leadership and making them into beings able to at least work with the Polity. I would not be surprised if in later books the Polity and Prador became a united Entity against an outside threat.

I also enjoyed Orlandine’s downfall. Asher does a great job of showing that a fallible being doesn’t stop having blindspots just because they are/become more intelligent. But at the same time, her fall doesn’t destroy her. It was good to see her pick the pieces back up and start fighting again.

★★★★☆

Cold Fire ★☆☆☆☆


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: Cold Fire
Series: ———-
Author: Dean Koontz
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 495
Words: 134K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

Recently retired teacher Jim Ironheart (aptly named) risks his life to save lives. In Portland he saves a young boy from an oblivious drunk driver in a van. In Boston he rescues a child from an underground explosion. In Houston he disarms a man who was trying to shoot his own wife – and he is not just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. He gets “inspirations” and knows he must hurry to wherever prompted. He rushes off to hail a cab or catch a plane, dropping whatever he’s doing at the moment, much to the surprise of those around him. He has no idea where these visions come from or why, but he believes that he must be some sort of God-sent guardian angel with a heavenly gift.

Reporter Holly Thorne was in Portland to write a less than exciting piece on a school teacher who has recently published a book of poetry full of poems which Holly finds are pure transcendental garbage – but such is Holly’s lot in life. She is a fine writer but is failing at her job because she is filled with too much integrity and compassion to be a good reporter. As she is leaving she witnesses Jim rescuing the child from the drunk driver and felt there was something fishy in Jim’s explanations of how he started running for the child before seeing or hearing the van coming. She discovers there have been 12 last-minute rescues reported over the last three months in other newspapers by a mysterious Good Samaritan named Jim with blue eyes.

Holly is intrigued by Jim and his intense but cold blue eyes – eyes which burn with a passionate, cold fire, hence the novel’s title.

Holly decides to follow this humble yet elusive savior on his next “mission.” Unbeknownst to Jim, she rapidly follows him to the airport and boards a United Airlines DC-10 plane bound for Chicago. She decides to confront him and learns about Jim’s strange but extraordinary powers. Jim tells her that he has been sent by God to save a mother and a child on the plane – he does not know why God has chosen these two in particular, but he does know that they must change seats or they will die in the horrific plane crash about which he has been sent a vision. Holly is struck by Jim’s belief that he has some magical power, sent by God no less.

Holly takes a more cynical view on things and decidedly argues how ridiculous such thoughts are. She questions why “God” would choose to let these two people live, and allow 151 other passengers to die, as Jim has foreseen. Surely there are much more worthy people aboard, and why would God even have the plane crash at all? Holly presses Jim to do much more than just tell the couple to move, but that he should warn the pilot and maybe save everyone aboard. Jim initially refuses, and decidedly refuses to question his visions. He tells Holly simply that God sends him, and he only follows the instructions – to do anything beyond that would be to somehow go outside God’s will. Who else, he asks, could be sending him visions to save lives precisely at the right time? Holly reasons with him, and convinces him that there is no good reason for Jim (or God) to let anyone die needlessly. The plane, however, is damaged beyond saving and still crashes, but the number of fatalities reduces from 151 to 47.

After the crash, Holly manages to gain Jim’s confidence. They are attracted to each other, but Holly cannot help but be curious about Jim’s mysterious visions. She decides to discover exactly how, why, and who, just as any reporter would naturally want to know. Yet the more she pries, the stranger things get. Nearly all Jim’s childhood memories are completely missing, except that he knows his parents died when he was 9 at his grandparents’ ranch. He only knows very vague details about everything from his childhood, and gets angry when Holly questions him. She begins to see that his strange abilities are linked to his childhood and lack of memories from then. She hears him whisper in his sleep continuously for several nights, “There is an Enemy. It is coming. It’ll kill us all. It is relentless.” She and Jim start to have identical terrifying nightmares surrounding the old mill from his grandparents’ ranch, and during one of these “nightmares” they are both completely conscious and experience violence while fighting some eerie force coming at them from the walls and ceiling – needless to say, they are convinced the force behind it all is definitely not God, nor is it benign.

Holly unquestionably decides they must go back to the ranch to find the source of everything, though she is fearful of what they will find. Jim is at first reluctant, but as they near the ranch, he becomes more and more convinced that the being is something wholly great and powerful – something not of this world.

Once inside the windmill’s creepy tower room, the alien reveals itself from the adjacent pond, at first through sounds analogous to church bells and then an entrancing display of dancing colors and exploding lights. The being then starts to magically use a pen and paper to make words appear, and later manifests as a voice. It calls itself THE FRIEND who has come to them from ANOTHER WORLD. When asked why, it says, “TO OBSERVE, TO STUDY, TO HELP MANKIND.” Holly asks why, then, it attacked them the previous night, to which THE FRIEND replies that that was the work of its other half: THE ENEMY. When asked about the bells and lights, it says that it does that “FOR DRAMA?” Holly asks why the certain individuals are chosen over others, and THE FRIEND gives replies that one will cure all cancers, one will become a great president, one will become a great spiritual leader, et cetera. While Jim is wholly enthusiastic and pleased, Holly cannot believe the answers, for it does not make any logical sense and the answers seem trite, fantastical and childish to her.

Holly questions THE FRIEND far and deep about Jim while he is out of the room. All the answers continue to be too predictable to believe, and it finally answers her nagging with threats and then, most shockingly, with the words “I,” “MY,” and, “ME.” At that moment, it is discovered that Jim is actually himself the source of both THE FRIEND and THE ENEMY, that it is he who is causing the nightmares and not God or some alien force. After Jim’s parents died, the 9 year old became obsessed with a book about an alien in a pond next to a windmill – he became so obsessed that the child never grew up until one day an adult-in-body Jim ran away and started a presumably normal life. Holly helps Jim deal with his past and the two begin a new life together.

My Thoughts:

If Koontz had stuck to this being his typical thriller, I’d probably have given it 3.5 stars and seriously thought about upping it to 4.

However. There was this quote and several in the same vein:

“If there’s a God, why does He allow suffering?”

Alarmed, Father Geary said, “Are you feeling worse?”

“No, no. Better. I don’t mean my suffering. Just… why does He allow suffering in general?”

“To test us,” the priest said.

“Why do we have to be tested?”

“To determine if we’re worthy.”

“Worthy of what?”

“Worthy of heaven, of course. Salvation. Eternal life.”

“Why didn’t God make us worthy?”

“Yes, he made us perfect, without sin. But then we sinned, and fell from grace.”

“How could we sin if we were perfect?”

“Because we have free will.”

“I don’t understand.”

Father Geary frowned. “I’m not a nimble theologian. Just an ordinary priest. All I can tell you is that it’s part of the divine mystery. We fell from grace, and now heaven must be earned.”

The bolding is mine. Besides this blatant heresy, Koontz makes sure that his readers know that the main character not only studied a variety of religions, but WAS an “X” and believed in them all. A Super Ecumenist as it were.

It has never been clearer that Koontz is not a Christian even while using Christian terminology when it suits him. You don’t get to try to take the benefits of using Christian terminology while denying the strictures. You do not play games with Christ. As such, I’m done with Koontz now.

★☆☆☆☆

Prisoners of Darkness (Galaxy’s Edge #6) ★★★★☆


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: Prisoners of Darkness
Series: Galaxy’s Edge #6
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Space Opera
Pages: 215
Words: 76.5K



Synopsis:

From Galaxysedge.fandom.com

Having heard nothing from operative Andien Broxin, Nether Ops leader X waits at the Carnivale landing site as the tactical assault ship Forresaw returns, two weeks late and without warning. X considers the possibilities of what her unannounced return might mean, and none of them are good for the Republic. He becomes agitated enough to alert a sniper team at the landing site to active status, along with Sergeant Major Avers, the Carnivale’s combat trainer. After landing, Andien Broxin emerges alone from the ship and tries to kill X. Avers and the sniper team return fire and destroys the Forresaw as it tries to escape.

Major Ellek Owens has been arrested on charges of treason to the Republic and multiple counts of assassination. While this is not unexpected (Legion Commander Keller had previously let him know that Keller himself would not be taking the fall for the Dark Ops destruction of the Kesselverks Shipyards on Tarrago Prime) it is the apparent end to an otherwise impressive career. A number of Dark Ops legionnaires make things difficult for Republic Army officer Lt. Lynne Pratell, who is under orders to deliver Owens to a military tribunal, but she persists and carries out her mission. The tribunal itself is for show rather than to determine Owens’ guilt or innocence, and he is sentenced to life at hard labor in the Synth mines of Herbeer.

At the Republic Navy depot at Bantaar Reef, Admiral Landoo is trying to figure out how to respond to her near-complete loss of the 7th Fleet at Tarrago Prime and the more recent destruction of a super-destroyer to Imperial forces. She discovers that there is no viable military response as the fabled fifteen fleets of the Republic were so much propaganda; the Seventh Fleet was the only active task force in the galaxy. In addition, the House of Reason will not allow her to reposition any of the remaining super-destroyer groups from their current stations. She has been scraping together auxiliary ships for her own response, however. While she considers her options, Imperial tri-fighters attack Bantaar Reef and succeed in destroying the Ship-to-Ship Munitions (SSM) facility there, crippling their heavy torpedo production. A single Republic officer is identified as someone who could have let the Imperial forces inside the defense perimeter and he can’t be located.

Lt. Pratell’s Republic Army detail delivers Owens to Herbeer as Indelible VI pursues Andien Broxin for kidnapping Aeson Keel’s crew. Ravi alerts them to Broxin’s destination: the Echo Comm Node station in the Antilles system. Keel, though he cannot abide the thought of dealing with Broxin, does ask Chhun for his help in resolving the situation, who agrees. A brief refuel and re-supply stop on the Intrepid ends with a meeting with the ship’s CO, Captain Deynolds.

Imperial assault frigate Wolf arrives at the gas mining station on Jasilaar 9 to capture the station and mining facility. Goth Sullus’ Empire (aka the Imperial Republic) needs to constantly expand its labor force and resources to maintain its operations and the only way to do that is to capture existing industrial stations. Unexpectedly loyal and capable Republic Marines defeat them soundly, at the cost of the station’s destruction. This is a major setback for the Empire. Only a single escape pod survives.

In the Muratawa system, a Mid-Core Rebel fleet led by Jona Crimm engages a far more (apparently) capable Republic fleet. Crimm is a rising star in the MCR and is looking to boost his reputation even further with this engagement. The Republic admiral calculates that hios super-destroyer’s Aegis Point Defense System is sufficient to destroy the MCR’s fighter cover and so delays launching his own Raptor squadrons. This gives the MCR forces the chance to launch heavy torpedoes inside their defense perimeter and destroy the picket destroyer Pegasus. With the loss of the Pegasus, the Republic fleet can no longer co-ordinate its fire control systems and falls apart, disabling several more ships. The Captain of the Republic destroyer Imminent drops his ship into the planet’s atmosphere to dissuade MRC fighters from following…which Crimm had planned for, and orders MCR forces to attack her from the planet’s surface. The Imminent is a total loss and crashes. The engagement is a serious defeat for the Republic and Jona Crimm’s reputation soars further as the man who won the Battle (Victory) of Muratawa.

Back on the Intrepid, it becomes clear that Ford has been following orders and Deynolds is well aware of his double life as the pirate captain Aeson Keel and the bounty hunter Wraith. Joining the meeting by hologram are Delagates Orrin Kaar, Aletha A’lill’n, and Valon Uprecht of the House of Reason Security Council, and Legion Commander Keller. The meetings brings the legionnaires up to speed on recent events including the death of Admiral Silas Devers (no great loss), and the fact that the kill team attack on Tarrago was in direct violation of the House Security Council’s orders. Ford and Chhun are offered a chance to confess that Owens was the sole initiator of the attack on the Kesselverks Shipyards. Signing the confessions would absolve the two legionnaires of responsibility in the matter. Both sign under protest, while Kaar promises them both the Order of Centurion for their loyalty. The Delegates disconnect and Keller acknowledges that Owens is a sop to a corrupt political process, and was already convicted and sentenced to a life of hard labor on Herbeer. Keller believes that with Owens out of the way, the House will make a grab for control of the Legion. And if Keel and Chhun were to head to Herbeer and rescue Owens from prison, well, they would all be considered co-conspirators. But they would also be able to resist the House’s plans for a coup.

After a heated exchange between Keel and Chhun, Keel decides not to join Chhun’s kill team on their rescue op.

At the Grand Pavillion of the Zhee tribes on Ankalor, Republic academic Jebba Monteau meets with the Grand Kahn of the Zhee to secure the race’s help in the Republic’s fight against the Empire. Jebba, although himself an academic expert on Zhee language, history, and culture slowly realizes that he’s in over his head but insists on completing his mission. He informs the Kahn that the Republic has been building advanced warships, weapons, and armor in secret all of which will be provided to the Zhee if the Kahn agrees to use his followers as troops for use by the House of Reason to attack Empire strongholds. The Kahn agrees, and Jebba becomes the most important part of the Zhee ritual, the Paradise of a Thousand Cuts.

In the Synth mines of Herbeer, Owens becomes acquainted with the work routine. Inmates are expected to mine three grams of synth each day, and prisoners often steal synth from each other to ease the quotas. The mines are run as a Gomarii slaving operation as well, and between the liberal installation of auto-turrets and a network of corrupt guards, escape is apparently impossible. Owens is befriended by Crux, an aged Savage War veteran who’s been working the mines for years and gives him the essentials on how to survive the harsh environment. Crux introduces Owens to “Rowdy,” First Sergeant Robert Cosler, a leej who was sentenced to life on Herbeer for shooting a point instead of following an illegal order. Cosler has banded together with other such former legionnaires, who now call themselves Synth Squad and keep each other safe from the Gomarii and other prisoners.

The base at Tarrago Prime has been converted by Imperial shock troopers into a detention and interrogation facility collectively known by Imperial troops as “Camp Spirit”. Republic soldiers are encouraged to give up vital information and join the Empire and many take advantage of this offer. Some of the more enduring resistors include Captain Thales, the (former) Chief Gunnery Officer of Fortress Omicron, Captain Desaix of the (now destroyed) corvette Audacity, Jory Moncray, a crewman from the Seventh Fleet, Raptor pilot Atumna Fal, legionnaire Corporal Casso, marine Jidoo Nadoori, and Rocokizzi, gunner’s mate from the Audacity. Desaix manages to head up an escape attempt, with Casso, Nadoori, and Rocokizzi in tow. Once outside the prison they hijack a ground transport containing Thales and Fal. By eliminating guards and hacking into the Imperial S-comm, they brazen their ways onto a grounded corvette and steal it, fighting their way out of Camp Spirit, while Desaix is nearly killed dealing with a trooper who is sabotaging the jump computer. Desaix defeats the saboteur, fixes the computer, and they make a clean jump into hyperspace.

Victory Squad has taken up residence on Deep Space Survival Outpost Tully 3, one of many such outposts throughout the galaxy, which are intended to benefit stranded space travelers. A new person arrives at the station: Lao Pak, a sometime associate of Aeson Keel. Pak’s job is to get them to Herbeer in Keel’s absence.

On Herbeer, Cosler is happy enough to hand command of his squad to Owens, in order to restore some semblance of legion order to their routine; having a legionnaire Major in charge would do that. Owens accepts the post and they begin to figure out how to wreck the Gomarii slavery ring and also figure out how an escape might happen.

Despite Lao Pak’s Galaxy-class transport ship’s problems, his awful piloting skills, and the fact that Pak is carrying an MCR prisoner who he intends to sell to the Gomarii, Victory squad successfully arrives at Herbeer.

Meanwhile, Hutch and Garret have holed up in a part of the Cybar warship Mother the warbots can’t access and Garret has learned how to gain entry into the controlling AI’s internal defense network, so that they can see what the machine sees. The mechanical intelligence that runs the ship has been pitting Skrizz against the ship’s warbots to test his resolve and combat ability. Skrizz has been through a number of contests and always seems to win. Prisma Maydoon is still being held as well. After considerable study, Garret believes he can gain control of MAGNUS, the ship’s controlling intelligence. Prisma has been practicing her mind-over-matter skills and has grown them considerably.

On Herbeer, Owens, Crux, and Rowdy appear to start a fight in order to distract the Gomarii. Owens uses a Dark Ops alias, Herron Knight, to promise wealth and power if the slavers can mitigate his sentence, and move him near the control room. Owens plans to get inside the room and turn off the auto-turrets and then instigate a riot.

While this is going on, Chhun’s kill team waits aboard the Galaxy-class freighter while Lao Pak talks their way into the mine’s docking bay, using the MCR prisoner as a shield.

Onboard Mother, it is revealed that MAGNUS has been micromanaging the conflict between the MCR and the Republic, and the Empire as a strategy meant to get the warring factions to wipe each other out, or at least to exhaust each other’s military capabilities. To that end, it has been sending organic replicants to strategic locations to facilitate chaos. The attack on X, Bantaar Reef, the Battle of Muratawa, and the destruction of the mining base on Jasilaar 9 were all due to replicants operating on MAGNUS’s orders. MAGNUS learns that there is another far more alien intelligence lurking within its programming…and it will make itself known in good time.

On Herbeer, Owens’ riot breaks out just as Chhun’s kill team infiltrates the mine. More by chance than planning, Chhun makes contact with Owens inside the control center, and now their mission is to shut down the auto-turret controls before the defenses kill the prisoners.

During the fight, Masters and Pike are attacked (and Pike is swallowed whole) by an indigenous worm-like life form, and Masters deduces these monsters are what the auto-turrets were designed to defend against. Lao Pak sees the fight on monitors and abandons Chhun’s team to its fate. Owens and Chuun’s team put down the Gomarii and break into the guarded section of the mine to find that there are hundreds of prisoners waiting in cages, to be sold in the Gomarii slave market. Owens recognizes one as Lt. Pratell, and surmises that the operation is used to silence the Republic’s political opponents.

At this point everyone with a working blaster is attacking the creature that is still rampaging through the mine, eating what it can catch. Pike however is still conscious and triggers a belt of grenades he was wearing when the attack came. The blast destroys the monster. Owens gets on the comm and declares that the Legion is now in control of the facility.

In the aftermath of the inmate rebellion, the former prisoners re-purpose a Republic shuttle for use after locating it in a maintenance bay, before it had been stripped for parts. Owens and Victory squad are due to leave the planet, while Rowdy and Synth Squad remain behind to run the prison, with Lt. Pratell as their new CO. Crux, who died in the fight, will receive a proper leej burial aboard the Mercutio. Owens contacts the Mercutio from orbit informing them of the situation, and plans a rendezvous with the destroyer.

On the planet Wayste, Ravi and Keel head into the deep desert to locate the remains of Kael Maydoon and do so with local help, but are intercepted by Imperial shock troopers. Keel recognizes one of them: Exo.

My Thoughts:

Whoever has been writing these synopses has my admiration and I’d place them against Mr Torval (the guy who has been writing the Wheel of Time synopses) and call it a dead heat. Place your bets now, folks, step right up, step right up, place your bets on who can write a longer synospses! All wagers accepted, except for used pancakes, we refuse to bet with used pancakes, step right up, step right up there! Place your bets, today might be your lucky day …..

This was yet another excellent entry in the Galaxy’s Edge series. Starting the book out with adding “replicants” to the mix made me sit up and holler an outloud “Oh Yeah!”. Battlestar Galactica, here we come! There was also a scene where some Republic prisoners were escaping and how it was worded and everything just made me do a fist pump of excitement. It was exciting writing and brought a grin to my face.

I think I’ve finally gotten used to Captain Ford/Keel/Wraith all being the same person. One man having 3 different personnas and names was a bit confusing but I think its all sorted now. It helps that he’s pretty much chosen the Rogue Keel as who he is now.

In a previous review I’d talked about how this Galaxy’s Edge universe seemed to be growing faster than ever. Well, there is another sub-series co-written called Order of the Centurion and there was another one called Dark Operator about the Dark Ops. I haven’t read any sub-series written by other authors yet and I plan on holding off doing that until I’m caught up to what Anspach and Cole have put out themselves. Michael Anderle has done something similar with his Kurtherian Universe and most of the co-written spinoffs pretty much just had his name on the cover and the contents were typical atrocious indie junk. I can’t say that is the case for Anspach and Cole but I’m keeping that in the back of my head. I do wish there were more reviews on WordPress, as when I look I found very few people have reviewed these books on their blogs.

This series continues to impress me and give me boat loads of fun reading. I look forward to each new book that comes my way. KTF!

★★★★☆

His Last Command (WH40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #9) ★★★☆½

histlastcommand (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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: His Last Command
Series: WH40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #9
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 361
Words: 98K

Synopsis:

Gaunt and most of his crew make it off Gereon after 16months of fighting a guerilla war. Suspected of Chaos Taint, the entire team is slated for execution without hearing one word of whether Gaunt’s mission was a success or not. One lone Commissar believes Gaunt and gets him an audience the man leading his sector, the man who sent Gaunt to Gereon in the first place. Due to their actions and continued suspicion of Taint, Gaunt is stripped of his field command becomes just a Commissar again. The other Tanith’s are folded back into the regiment that the rest of the Tanith have been integrated with.

The current battle is to take some sacred domes that appear to be made in the Emperor’s honor from the 31st millennium. Gaunt proves that the whole setup is a Chaos trap to end the Sabbat Worlds war. A last minute evacuation allows the space forces of man to wipe the planet clean. Gaunt is proved correct and the suspicion of Chaos, by the Inquisitors anyway, is removed. Whether Gaunt is given back his Colonel’cy remains to be seen.

My Thoughts:

Well, Abnett just ignores how Gaunt and his get off Gereon. Ok, he gives it some lip service and a mention of their guerilla warfare but really, it is just glossed over like a cutscene from an old video game. I do have to admit that Gaunt came across as rather dumb in the beginning. He acts like he’s never dealt with chaos taint or what things look like from an outsiders view. And honestly, given how severely the Empire deals with taint, he should just be thankful they did make it out alive.

Other than that, I had no complaints about this. The Tanith and Vergestites are folded into yet another undermanned company and make up a full company. The leader of said company is loved by all and gets killed, so you know that in another book, two at most, Gaunt is going to take over and make them all Ghosts. If the Ghosts were chocolate pudding in the first book, by this time they’ve had so much vanilla pudding added that they are neither chocolate or vanilla. But they aren’t tapioca, so that is all that matters!

Lots of action and fighting, so absolutely no issues on that front. Thankfully, that side of these books is staying pretty consistent.

Ps, I am going to start hosting only the bigger pix on google drive. 22K covers are not going to be an issue. That way I don’t have to change the way I write my reviews, which is the worst of sins in my book (hence why I am so against the block editor).

★★★☆½

The Soldier (Polity: Rise of the Jain #1) ★★★★☆

soldier (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 by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission 
Title:
The Soldier
Series: Polity: Rise of the Jain #1
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 343
Words: 138K

Synopsis:

From Kobo.com

In a far corner of space, on the very borders between humanity’s Polity worlds and the kingdom of the vicious crab-like prador, is an immediate threat to all sentient life: an accretion disc, a solar system designed by the long-dead Jain race and swarming with living technology powerful enough to destroy entire civilizations.

Neither the Polity or the prador want the other in full control of the disc, so they’ve placed an impartial third party in charge of the weapons platform guarding the technology from escaping into the galaxy: Orlandine, a part-human, part-AI haiman. She’s assisted by Dragon, a mysterious, spaceship-sized alien entity who has long been suspicious of Jain technology and who suspects the disc is a trap lying-in-wait.

Meanwhile, the android Angel is planning an attack on the Polity, and is searching for a terrible weapon to carry out his plans?a Jain super-soldier. But what exactly the super-soldier is, and what it could be used for if it fell into the wrong hands, will bring Angel and Orlandine’s missions to a head in a way that could forever change the balance of power in the Polity universe.

In The Soldier, British science fiction writer Neal Asher kicks off another Polity-based trilogy in signature fashion, concocting a mind-melting plot filled with far-future technology, lethal weaponry, and bizarre alien creations.

My Thoughts:

Whoowhee, another Polity trilogy to dig into!

I like that we’re getting another storyline from Orlandine. She is a character from the Agent Cormac series and was under-utilized? Well, a side character, so not under-utilized so much as just not the main presence, which makes sense. We also get a couple of Hooper Old Captains from Spatterjay, so the Spatterjay trilogy, while not 100% necessary to understand this, would make this a much better read. Cormac himself is mentioned, so once again, Asher is really tying this into his previous books.

I “think” my only complaint is the lack of what Asher calls a baseline humans, ie, you and me. If you can be bothered to track down a timeline of the Polity, which I can’t as I simply don’t care, I think this is several hundred years after even the Transformation trilogy with the rogue Black AI Penny Royal? Asher seems to deliberately not introduce a hard timeline, even though I’m sure he’s got one. 1 year, 1 decade, 1 century, eh, it is all the same. Anyway, by that time, I wonder if there are even such things as baseline humans. I wouldn’t think so, as they simply couldn’t live in a world with everyone else who is amped up in one way or another. The Separatists aren’t even heard from in this book, and they seemed to be the last sizable holdout against the improvement of humanity in terms of adding machineware to enhance everything.

I do feel like the title is a bit misleading. I was imagining a lone super Jane-soldier taking on the entire Polity and giving them a run for their money. While it does start out small, it quickly turns into a mile long ship size entity that is more intent on fulfilling its secret mission than on taking on the Polity. This trilogy is appearing to be more about revealing secrets of the Jain (and a possible schism that destroyed them) than anything. Whatever, I’m along for the ride!

We also get another alien introduced to us, the Client. It helped the Polity during the Polity/Prador War as the Prador had wiped out its homeworld and species. Turns out it is Jain based and now, with nudgings from Dragon, has pretty much gone exploring. What we don’t get is anything about the Atheter, who seemed to have a big part in the Transformation series. I figured they would turn into a threat, but I guess not.

I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy as it rotates through my kindle.

★★★★☆

Breakout (Fugitive Marines #1) ★★☆☆½

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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: Breakout
Series: Fugitive Marines #1
Author: David Ryker & Douglas Scott
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 244
Words: 73.5K

Synopsis:

From Davidryker.com

When a meteor strike unleashes an alien intelligence bent on taking over the human race, only a ragtag band of ex-Marines can stop them.

The only problem is, they’re in prison for a crime they didn’t commit. For the next 98 years.

And their prison is two and a half billion kilometers from Earth on a good day.

And their fellow inmates want them dead.

Hey, nobody ever said saving the world would be easy.

My Thoughts:

While this wasn’t “bad”, I did have much higher hopes that weren’t met.

The entire tone of the book was of the flip, I’m so qualified that I’m not worried about you, light humor. After a while it began to grate. Here are 4 (or was it 5? I honestly couldn’t tell you by the end of the book how many were in the group, more on that later) Marines in space jail for a crime they don’t remember committing, suddenly fighting off an alien body snatcher invasion. And they quip and one liner for the entire time?

Of course, Mr Quinn, their leader, but not Captain because he’s been stripped of that (we’re reminded by him of this constantly), is Mr Muscles from Brussels (I wanted to write muskles from bruskles to imitate Popeye, but wasn’t sure anyone would get the phrase if I mangled it that much) who is so conscientious and takes everything so seriously. But it fails, completely. He’s an idea of a person, not an actual person.

That is probably my biggest issue with this book, everyone had their place and were the idea, not the person. And that is why I couldn’t tell you if there were 4 or 5 guys in the force. There were first names, last names, possibly some nick names. They all had defining characteristics, but they weren’t people. I don’t know how to describe the lack, but it was evident. Then you had Miss Rich Love Interest Who Loves Everybody So Much that She Goes Outside Her Comfort Zone into Real Combat as a Medic. You know she and Captain Not Captain Muscles are going to fall in love, they have to. Their very character type demands it.

The background of the world was quite interesting. A world war that has seen the world divided into economic unions and space the new frontier. It had great underpinnings, just not the follow through. If you are looking for some quick Mil-SF to hoover through, you’ll probably like this series. There are 4 books currently out, but I’m done. I simply don’t care about the alien threat or how the Guys will solve their problems. They’ll solve it and laugh and beat some heads and Miss RLIWLESMSGOHCZRCB and CnC Muscles will probably smooch. But the problem won’t be fully solved, so you’ll have to read the next book.

Waiter, I’d like my check please.

★★☆☆½

A Werewolf Among Us ★★★☆☆

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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: A Werewolf Among Us
Series: ———-
Author: Dean Koontz
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Mystery
Pages: 211
Words: 53K

Synopsis:

Baker St Cyr is a detective, a Cyber-Detective! He can plug a portable computer into his chest and have it integrate within himself, thus giving him an edge of logic that most humans don’t have. It also nags him about his dreams, dampens his emotions and can affect his actions.

St Cyr is hired by an extremely rich man on a pleasure world to find out who killed some of his family. With no clues whatsoever, the local constabulary are baffled. Several more murders occur while St Cyr is there and an attempt is made on his life. All clues point to a local animal that supposedly can turn humans into werewolves. St Cyr must also battle the deadening of his emotions and the awakening of said emotions when he falls in love with his client’s daughter.

In the end, St Cyr figures out that the “butler” did it, is prevented from destroying said robot by his own cyber-unit (because it isn’t logical as all robots must adhere to the 3 Laws) and almost dies. The love interest saves the day, saves St Cyr from himself and saves herself from a stifling family relationship.

My Thoughts:

Koontz turns his hand to future murder mystery with rather predictable results. Just looking at the cover should tell you who the murderer is. As soon as the main character noticed that the robot butler went around on an anti-grav plate, I knew it was the robot. There was no mystery. It would have been cooler if there HAD been a werewolf.

The main reason I knocked off some stars is because of the final fight scene. St Cyr refuses to accept that his cyber-unit is deliberately affecting him by not allowing him to shoot the killer robot, that is trying to kill everyone right then, right there in full view. So he wastes half the fight trying to shoot down Robo-Butler and missing, while his love interest is screaming at him to throw the gun to her so she can turn Robo-Butler into Robo-Scrapmetal. He ignores her until it is almost too late. That isn’t logic but plain stupidity.

The overall story was a fun little tale, even while being completely predictable. I’d probably have notched it up to a 3 ½ star rating if it weren’t for St Cyr acting like a complete idiot in the fight.

Well, another old Koontz under my belt (I believe this was published in 1973?).

★★★☆☆

Sword of the Legion (Galaxy’s Edge #5) ★★★★☆

swordofthelegion (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained thereinshall 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:
Sword of the Legion
Series: Galaxy’s Edge #5
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Space Opera
Pages: 217
Words: 72K

Synopsis:

From Galaxysedge.fandom.com

In Sword of the Legion, we find Dark Ops Kill Team Victory Squad on the planet Rawl Kima in pursuit of a Mid-Core Rebel VIP. Victory Squad has been operating out of the Republic destroyer Illustrious for some time, on a continuing mission to locate and capture or kill a never-ending series of individuals who are categorized as MCR VIPs by Dark Ops. After years of this kind of activity, Captain Cohen Chhun is still a dutiful, competent soldier but the continual fighting is wearing him down emotionally.

Worse, despite the loss of the arms dealer Scarpia, Rawl Kima is a hotbed of MCR activity and Victory Squad is hard pressed to stay alive in the face of political decisions made by the local garrison commander.

Earlier, Dark Ops Major Ellek Owens and Nether Ops operative Andien Broxin are contacted by Legion Commander Keller with a new mission: they are to destroy the Kesselverks Shipyards at Tarrago Prime, which is under attack by a new player, Goth Sullus’s Black Fleet. Sullus’s goal is uncertain, but his intent is clear and the Republic must deny his fleet the use of the ship construction facilities at all costs. That calls for the best kill team they have and that is Victory Squad. And that means extracting them from the mess on Rawl Kima.

Owens contacts Captain Aeson Keel, aka Wraith, aka Captain Ford, former legionnaire, to extract Victory Squad from their current assignment with his ship the Indelible VI.

Owens’ message is simple: Keel and his crew must fight their way down to Rawl Kima, extract Victory Squad, and transport them to Tarrago Prime ASAP. Keel is intent on dealing with Silas Devers, the navy admiral who Keel discovered to be working with House of Reason Representative Orrin Karr to seize control of the Republic government. Owens assures him that as bad as Devers is, Goth Sullus’ gaining the ability to build starships by the dozen is many times worse. Keel accepts the job.

As the Indelible VI approaches Rawl Kima, Keel tries to explain his current point of view to Leenah the Enduran engineer (and former mid-core rebel), but the situation is complicated, involving a sense of duty to the Republic Legion combined with an intense need to survive the conflict that is growing around them. Additionally, Wraith’s bounty hunting career has been extremely lucrative, thanks to a huge payment by Tyrus Rechs. Leenah has a more white-and-black view of the conflict, which begins and ends with protecting Prisma Maydoon, now a part of Keel’s crew.

Keel denotes his ship “Rescue One” and contacts Victory Squad who is expecting him. The fighting on the ground grows fierce and Keel, Skrizz, and Leenah work together to lay down suppressive fire and drop the ship low enough for the surviving team members to board. Leenah especially is conflicted about the need to kill in defense of one’s allies. On its way out of the system the Illustrious attempts to force the Indelible VI to land aboard for customs violations, but Keel micro-jumps the ship to safety and introduces his crew to his old legion buddy, Cohen Chhun.

Aboard the ship, the two crews get to know each other. Masters and Prisma especially take a liking to each other, as he reminds her of a kinder, nobler version of Tyrus Rechs and he thinks she’s both brave and resourceful. Crash’s presence unnerves everyone. News of Keel’s alliance with Tyrus Rechs is good for some awe among the legionnaires.

Keel shows Victory Squad his extremely well-stocked armory and the team gears up while a holoprojected Major Owens explains the mission and provides a bit of background: Nether Ops operatives destroyed the Chiasm and Camp Forge back on Kublar. The Republic government is literally working against its own best interest and the government is in danger of fragmenting over the conflict. Owens forbids Victory Squad and the crew of the Indelible VI from going after Sullus directly. Denying him the use of the shipyards is their primary concern. Neither are they expected to secure the orbital defense gun, as that would require the team to hold until relieved and there is no relief coming.

As the freighter jumps into Tarrago system, they witness the mother of all space battles, with Black Fleet battleships and Republic Seventh Fleet capital ships flying around each other, trying to inflict as much damage as possible. Part of the problem is just identifying who the real enemies are but they assume the black fighters belong to Sullus’s fleet. Keel’s aggressive flying keeps the fighters at bay while avoiding a minefield deployed over the planet. Garret upgrades the weapons AI such that the newly upgraded missiles will fire from any direction and pursue a target in any position, then sets about upgrading Crash’s software for combat. In warbot mode, Crash deploys ahead of the ship in order to act as a fire suppression platform in advance of the ship’s landing.

Having landed the ship, Keel dons his old legion armor and feels like Wraith again, then joins the op with Victory Squad, which carries out their objective. The team picks their way through the jungle to the shipyards, and use a Black Fleet S-comm to avoid roving patrols of occupying shock troopers. Once inside the base, Victory Squad rigs the drive core of a partially constructed republic destroyer to blow as they fight their way out of the structure.

Wraith orders the Indelible VI to pick the team up and finds that hails to the ship go unanswered. Forced to rely on the ship’s hyper-enthusiastic AI computer, Keel coaxes it into flying the ship to their position and they manage to board to find the ship deserted except for Ravi.

Meanwhile, the crew of the Indelible VI awakens in the hold of the freighter Forresaw, and are introduced to Andien Broxin, agent of Nether Ops, and the Ghost Squad, the legion kill team which is aiding her. Andien explains that the Republic Seventh Fleet is gone and there are no other fleets available to stop Goth Sullus. The truth is that there were never any grand fleets; it was a propaganda tool used by the Republic to maintain order and prevent local systems from trying to gain too much power on their own. Now that the Seventh Fleet is no more, it is her intention to utilize Prisma to unlock a fleet of robotic warships known collectively as the Doomsday Fleet, a fail-safe created by the Republic House of Reason in case any attempt to wipe out the Republic should come to pass. Kael Maydoon was a principal of the project and he created a digital key that could only be activated with his daughter’s DNA. Which makes Prisma Maydoon the most important person in the galaxy at this juncture.

The true location of the Doomsday Fleet is known to no one, which meant the Forresaw needs to stop at Antilles to make use of the comm node there to discover the fleet’s true location. Ghost Squad deploys to infiltrate the base, but the op goes sideways when pre-positioned special force of shock troopers attack Andien’s team. During the fighting, Prisma is able to use a terminal and discover the location of the Doomsday fleet: a planet at the edge of the galaxy, Umanar. The surviving crew and troops return to the Forresaw and make their escape.

As she reviews the fight that got three of her men killed and then defuses a racial feud between Skrizz, the acting pilot and Ruh-Ro, the first officer/gunner, Andien realizes that her team is compromised. She can’t return to Owens or Chhun or hand Prisma over to any Republic agent as everyone is now suspect. She judges the only move that won’t give them away is to proceed directly to Umanar. At least that way the ultimate mission goal is preserved and the Republic gets its reinforcements. During the jump, Ravi gives Prisma a gift–a small marble–and a mission of her own: learn to move it with her mind.

As the Forresaw arrives at Umanar, they find no fleet per se, but only a single capital ship, of massive size and completely automated. As they land they are met by an apparent admin bot who introduces itself as CAT37 and is reluctant to answer their questions. As they descend further into the ship, they see legions of warbots kept in storage. As they arrive, CAT37 reveals that its designation stands for Capture-Acquire-Terminate, and the group is attacked by large numbers of highly advanced warbots. While fighting for Prisma’s life, crash is destroyed, and while trying to fall back to the Forresaw, the remaining members of Ghost Squad are picked off one by one.

It is revealed that the mechanical intelligence behind the Doomsday Fleet is known as CRONUS (Cybernetic Robot Organism Network Uber Sybil), a wholly self-sufficient mechanical entity, which was built under top secret conditions by the Republic military using captured Cybar technology. On top of that, CRONUS at one point came into contact with an alien intelligence from outside the galaxy and took on a new directive: the systematic eradication of all life in the galaxy.

Andien and the crew of the Six are imprisoned by CRONUS and periodically interrogated by the mechanical intelligence. In the lulls between these sessions, Prisma Maydoon manages to move Ravi’s marble with her mind.

My Thoughts:

With these synopses from Fandom, I’m probably not going to ever re-read these books. Considering that I’ve got into these two authors (Anspach and Cole) late enough, there is a huge backlog for me to work through and they really churn out the books, so it will be YEARS before I’m caught up, much less think about a re-read. With all the spin-off series, etc, this is just a huge universe to explore. The more I read, the more I want to read! I can’t think of much higher praise than that.

And I’d love to end my review with that. Short and pithy. Not being a huge fan of long reviews, as I want to spend that time reading a book, not a review, I tend to write what I would want to read. Surprisingly, which I’m sure will shock the majority of everyone who reads this, a lot of other bloggers don’t seem to share that opinion. * raises hands in disbelief * I know, right? So because I’m just such an understanding fellah and want to please everyone else, I guess I’ll write some more. I do apologize to those of you whom this development will shock. If your feelings really get hurt, please leave a comment so I can grovel appropriately and beg for your forgiveness. I live for my readers approval and accolades.

Ok, with that out of my system…

This series is simply everything I ever wanted from the Star Wars franchise. Great characters, awesome stories, huge massive veiled threats at the edge of the galaxy. I feel like this is the Star Wars That Should Have Been. I know I am constantly referring to Star Wars in these reviews, and it will continue, but I was such a huge fan of the franchise for so long, that to rediscover something that fills that void within exactly is almost miraculous. It isn’t coincidental, as I’ve heard that Anspach and Cole set out to write this series in opposition to the dumpster fire that the recent movies turned the franchise into. I for one wholeheartedly approve.

I don’t even mind that things get muddled morally. In terms of various characters following someone like Goth Sullus I mean. The authors are showing the conflict within people when a beloved institution, the Republic, is going rotten at its very core and how they choose to respond to that rot. It directly addresses what a large segment of the American population at large (yours truly included) are dealing with. But at the same time, this never ONCE gets into Message Territory. The authors keep the story first and foremost and any message is part of the story, not a Message. Really, when a Message takes precedent over the story, that is what used to be called Propaganda. A lot of books today are nothing but propaganda. Sigh.

I have to admit that the constant jumping around of groups of characters and timelines from book to book still confuses me a bit. Not as bad as the second book did, but it is still there. It is probably the main reason why I would re-read these at some point, as I’m sure I could follow the time jumps better and slot things into their appropriate place much easier second time around. It didn’t help that when I was reading this I was also having a week from hell in terms of work.

Ok, that is long enough. The My Thoughts part is almost 600 words, which considering that my average whole (according to wordpress) is just under 700, I am WAY ahead of the numbers with that synopsis!

★★★★☆

Traitor General (WH40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts) ★★★☆½

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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: Traitor General
Series: WH40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Words: 105K

Synopsis:

From WH40k.lexicanum.com

Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt is asked to lead a team of guardsmen on an infiltration mission to the planet of Gereon, held by the forces of Chaos in order to eliminate a captured traitor Imperial Officer who holds secrets pertaining to the Sabbat Worlds Crusade. Gaunt leads eleven of his regiment to the planet where they are met by Jerome Landerson, a member of the Gereon Resistance. Landerson and the resistance lead the Gereon Twelve across the planet the fortress where the Imperial Officer is being held. Before getting there the team has to deal with chaos garrison soldiers, glyphs and wirewolves as well as the Chaos Space Marine Uexkull. To escape their pursuers Landerson leads Gaunt and his team into the Untill, home of the Partisans, an old rebel force who opposed the Imperial Government centuries ago. The Untill is a large dark swamp filled with poisonous creatures, the most notable of which being a large species of moth. The Tanith and the resistance meet with the Partisans and help defend them from Uexkhull and his squad of Chaos Space Marines. It is through this action that Gaunt is given Eszrah ap Niht, son by his father, the Chief of the Partisans. The Tanith and Resistance then leave the Untill and make for the occupation fortress.

Meanwhile the traitor or pheguth, as it is called by the Chaos forces is being kept prisoner by the forces of Chaos Magister Anakwanar Sek under the command of Mabbon Etogaur. The pheguth is protected by the life-ward Desolane, a sexless beast risen from birth to protect its wards with its life and brutally gruesome martial skills. The pheguth was captured by Chaos forces whilst on an Imperial Transport awaiting trial for desertion. However as the pheguth knew sensitive secrets the Commissariat psykers put a mindlock on him, locking away his memories and identity. The pheguth is then subjected to the prying claws of the Magister Sek’s psykers as they try to peel back the layers of psychic encryption on the pheguth’s mind. The process is excruciating but eventually meets some success. The pheguth remembers that he is in fact Lord General Noches Sturm, leader of the 50th Royal Volpone. Realising that he must of been betrayed by the Imperium and especially Gaunt, he begins to help Mabbon Etogaur form, train and discipline the Sons of Sek, a new chaos army modelled on the Imperial Guard. It is planned that the Sons of Sek will grow to rival the Blood Pact in strength, allowing Magister Sek to challenge Archon Urlock Gaur for leadership of the Chaos forces in the Sabbat Worlds.

Having reached the resistance safehouse near the location of the pheguth Sturm’s location, Gaunt asks Landerson to have the resistance gather their forces so that they may make a strike on the fortress. The resistance does so, getting slaughtered in the process but allowing Gaunt and his strikeforce to slip in to the fortress and fight their way to Sturm’s room. Upon Gaunt and his ghosts entering his room, Sturm finally remembers certain important moments in Vervunhive, concerning his desertion and his dishonourable conduct. Sturm, once again faced by Gaunt, asks once again for the right to commit suicide. Skeptically, Gaunt grants this request, allowing Sturm to finally regain some of his honour through blowing his own head off. Desolane enters the room at this point and is enraged at his charges fate, flying into a fury beating Gaunt and Mkvenner in personal combat, taking three lethal toxin-laden quarrels from Eszrah’s reynbow and is only killed by a close range hotshot from Feygor who uses Larkin’s sniper-pattern lasgun.

My Thoughts:

This was Grimdark, through and through. Yet I enjoyed every page. There is a lot of page time given over to Chaos and how it affects everything. I actually appreciated that, since I don’t play WH40K or have much reading experience. It helped fill in some gaps. Needless to say, Chaos is truly insidious and this book shows just how it warps everything it comes into contact with, even those directly fighting against it. I’ll come back to that.

There are currently 16’ish books in the Gaunt’s Ghosts series but without that knowledge, you’d think this was the last one. With Gaunt and a select few of the Tannith Ghost’s abandoned on a Chaos controlled world at the end of the novel, I don’t see how the story will proceed. I’ve assiduously avoided reading anything about the future books so as not to ruin the surprise of how they get out of this mess, but considering it is a Warhammer40K setting, I don’t imagine it will be easy or pretty. I’m guessing a lot of blood, guts and extremely dirty politics.

Back to the chaos. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m simply not going to learn much about the Emperor or how Anti-Chaos operates (it definitely isn’t Order, that is for sure). Sometimes those opposing Chaos are just as bad and you wonder, why bother to fight Chaos if this is what you’re going to have to deal with in return? The corrupting influence of Chaos is definitely showcased here, as the Resistance on the planet have had to take on the control worms (there is no better description for it) of the enemy simply to move around without being killed. Those worms change them, even in little ways and it is central point for Gaunt and his Ghosts about whether they can be trusted or not. I have a feeling that that idea of Trust and being warped by Chaos will play a bigger role in the upcoming books.

This was a great read for what it is and probably one of the best of the series so far. I’m looking forward to how the author is going to extricate Gaunt and Crew from the Chaos world and reintegrate them back into the larger group of Ghosts.

★★★☆½

Jupiter War (Owner Sequence #3) ★★★★★

jupiterwarThis 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: Jupiter War
Series: Owner Sequence #3
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 350
Words: 139.5K

 

Synopsis:

Saul continues to upgrade the Argus station into an interstellar spaceship. He must deal with his sister who is jealous of Saul’s abilities but won’t admit it to herself, other scientists on board who have come to consider him near-omniscient to former Committee members who want to displace Saul and take over the ship and “be free”. While all of this internal conflict is happening, Saul must also deal with the continued threat presented by Serene Gallahad and her drive to recover the Gene Bank from him to restore the biosphere of Earth. This results in a battle out by Jupiter where Saul ends up destroying the two Committee ships but almost being destroyed in the process.

Gallahad continues to tighten her control of Earth and has become more powerful than ever. Unfortunately for her, several rogue elements working in tandem destroy her powerbase and leave her vulnerable. Her own bodyguard kills her and the lower level Committee members end up all working against each other, thus delaying Earth’s return to space for almost a century. This enables Saul to complete his upgrades and leave the Solar System.

 

My Thoughts:

I have enjoyed this re-read of the Owner Sequence so much more this time around than I did back in ’11-’13. I think a big part is that back then I was expecting it to be more tightly tied to Asher’s Polity universe and so my expectations were a bit different. Now that I know this isn’t another Polity spinoff, I can appreciate it for itself. It excels as an origin story for the Owner.

As my 5stars should indicate, I had a great time reading this. I’ve been trying to think how to adequately describe the action here. It still gets the ultra-violent tag but at the same time it wasn’t frenzied and frenetic. I never felt like I had run out of breath after the battles like I do in some books. That’s not a bad thing at all, mind you, just a quirk that stuck out to me.

The Proctors, the nigh-indestructable helpers of Saul, provide a sounding board for Saul to bounce ideas about human nature and freedom off of. While I wish they had been used more as ultimate Killing Machines, I can understand why Asher wrote them the way he did. They are supposed to help keep Saul from losing all touch with what’s left of his own humanity.

I know that Asher has written another Polity trilogy recently, which I plan on reading next (Rise of the Jain) but after re-reading this, I wouldn’t mind at all if he decided to write another Owner trilogy. I’d be even happier if he just wrote a book of short stories exclusively about the Owner and various adventures he has throughout space.

★★★★★

 

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