Orbus (Polity: Spatterjay #3) ★★★★½

orbus (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:
Orbus
Series: Polity: Spatterjay #3
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 352
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Captain Orbus is now captain of a Space freighter instead of a sailing ship on Spatterjay. He’s trying to reform himself from the masochistic brute he was before. Unfortunately, he’s rather bored, as the ship AI Gurnard, pretty much does everything. Then they are hired by a reif to recover a prador exoskeleton from the Graveyard, an area in space that acts as a buffer between the Polity and the Kingdom of the Prador. Orbus uncovers a lot of dirty dealing and the fact that Oberon, King of the Prador, is actually infected with the Spatterjay virus and has been for centuries. The wardrone Sniper and submind Thirteen hook up with Orbus and Gurnard to get this info to the Polity so the AI’s can use it.

At the same time, Vrell, a prador who survived on Spatterjay and worked his way offplanet, has taken over a Prador warvessel. He too realizes the King is mutated and that this knowledge will kill him. Vrell is faced with fighting and losing to the Prador, running to the Polity and possibly being killed out of hand for his actions in escaping Spatterjay or running away into unknown space. Vrell is also infected and his mutating brain suggests hiding out in the Graveyard. He takes his ship, and reprogrammed Kings Guards, who are also mutated Prador, into the graveyard. This leads him into conflict with the Golgoloth.

The Golgoloth is a Prador that is over 1000 years old and has kept itself alive by growing replacements for itself (as it is both male and female) with its children. It was the kingmaker for the 1st and 2nd Prador Kingdom and fled to the Graveyard when Oberon took power. Through the centuries Oberon has approached the Golgoloth to return to the Kingdom to work for him and the Golgoloth has always refused. Now, with his secret about to be revealed, Oberon forces the issue with the Golgoloth and tells it it is either it or Vrell.

The conflict between Vrell and the Golgoloth suck in the crew of the Gurnard. It also places incredible strain on Vrell’s resources, which reveals a hidden genetic code in the Spatterjay virus. This genetic material turns out to be Jain in nature and is a squad of Jain Soldiers. The Jain are resurrected and it takes everyone, including Oberon and his dreadnaughts, to destroy them. In the end, Oberon sacrifices himself to gain crucial knowledge about the Jain and passes it on to his successor, Vrell.

The Jain are destroyed, the Golgoloth gets its punishment at the hand of King Vrell, Orbus realizes his desire for action isn’t crazy, the Prador Kingdom is in upheaval and the Polity can breathe easier for a few decades.

 

My Thoughts:

In all honesty, my review from 2011 still sums up my thoughts. Awesome violence between super powered beings (whether of mind or body or both) and we get Jain soldiers. I had completely forgotten they were introduced here. It is good to be reminded of them, since Asher’s latest series is called Rise of the Jain and the first book is titled The Soldier. After this book, I’m totally ready for that.

I do have to admit that I don’t understand the reason for the title. Captain Orbus plays as big a part as Sniper but nothing compared to Vrell, the Golgoloth or even Oberon at the end. He’s the human connector between us the readers and the various factions in the book (Polity AI’s, alien Prador, even the world of Spatterjay) but I didn’t find him integral to the story.

The reason for this not getting bumped up to a full five stars is the tech descriptions that is a regular weakness of Asher’s. He just can’t resist writing about gadget X, Y and Z doing A,B and C and then being totally obliterated by O,F and U. It’s like gun porn, but on a larger level. Tech porn maybe? Whatever you want to call it, it bores me, even more than scenary descriptions would.

I think that Orbus is probably the most violent of the whole Spatterjay trilogy and the Spatterjay trilogy is the most violent, to date, of his Polity books. Be aware of that when diving into these books. Mutated Prador are even worse than a Hooder on a ship of reifications!

★★★★½

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

 

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The Voyage of the Sable Keech (Polity: Spatterjay #2) ★★★★☆

voyagesablekeech (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 Voyage of the Sable Keech
Series: Polity: Spatterjay #2
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 593
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Taylor Bloc, a reif and new leader of what is left of the Cult of Anubis the Risen, commissions a gigantic ship to be built on Spatterjay. He convinces all of the remaining cult reifs and a lot of those who had left, to pay for a voyage following in the footsteps of Sable Keech and at the end of voyage this will allow them all to undergo the change and get their original bodies back, just like Keech. He hires a bunch of Hoopers, convinces Janers Anders to come along and kidnaps Erlan to get her on board. Throw in that the Hive Mind Janers is working for is now dealing with another hive mind, the fact that Bloc is insane and controlling a hooder with Prador thrawl tech and that some golems show up on board without anyone knowing why and bam, you have a situation.

On top of that, Vrell, the young prador from the previous book survives and makes it to his now dead father’s ship. He is infecteed with the spatterjay virus and doesn’t know what that is going to lead to. A Prador war vessel comes from the Prador Kingdom on direct orders from the King to make sure that Vrell doesn’t get off Spatterjay alive. Somehow the King has mastered the virus himself and doesn’t want any but his descendants to have access to the powers it gives a prador. So it is up to Sniper, a Polity wardrone, to save a prador so said prador can cause chaos in the kingdom. Talk about irony.

The final storyline follows a giant whelk. Think a giant slug with tentacles and a conch shell. It is hunting down Erlan for killing one of it’s offspring but gets sidetracked and ends up going after some other Hooper ships. A lot of carnage happens, a LOT!

In the end the golems are revealed as agents of the other hivemind, which is having an argument with itself and can’t decide if splitting into 2 minds is worse than death or not. It decides to die. Sable Keech is revealed as one of the reifs, as he has been hunting down Blok for crimes in the Polity. Sniper and Polity AI come to an agreement with Vrell. The whelk gives up on her revenge and just has more babies.

 

My Thoughts:

Dropped this a whole star because of the giant whelk rape/sex scene. Yes, you read that right. Asher delivers a gigantic “nature in the raw” sex scene. Including a corkscrew penis. What the frack man!?!?!?!?!?!? And why the heck didn’t I think to warn myself about it back in my review in 2011? I’m wondering if I repressed the whole thing.

Other than that, this was probably just as gory and violence filled as The Skinner. Of course, throwing a hooder into the mix was guaranteed to do that! I think this trilogy is the high tide of Asher’s violence. I don’t remember any of his other books quite reaching the heights scaled here. Some may be sad, some may be happy about that. I for one am in the sad group. Aliens and entrail ripping just go together in my book. Like peanutbutter and pickles on toast.

I liked this book. I liked all the various storylines and how they fleshed out each other even while not necessarily being needed for each other. I liked the few times that we really got to see the Old Captains in action. I thought the prador Vrell’s storyline was the weakest. However, it did really come across to me just how long ago the Prador/Polity war was. It didn’t happen 15 years ago. It’s been long enough that most people aren’t even sure it actually DID take place. Not only does the space continuum of the Polity continue to expand with each book, but so does the time side of things. This is a firmly established universe and little things like that remind us the readers of that fact.

One regret’y type thing is that after this trilogy I don’t think we see the Hive Minds again. I would really like to see a book dedicated to that at some point. Oh well, if it hasn’t happened by now, it probably won’t.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

 

The Skinner (Polity: Spatterjay #1) ★★★★★

skinner (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 Skinner
Series: Polity: Spatterjay #1
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 433
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Sable Keech, a dead ECS agent, is a member of the Anubis cult. When he died 700 years ago tracking down infamous slavers who sold their product to the Prador during the Prador War, he was reified and continued his hunt for the Eight most prominent members. Jay Hoop was their leader and Sable has accounted for the other seven members. Rumors bring Sable to the world of Spatterjay, named after Jay Hoop. A world where a peculiar virus gives immortality but with the risk of becoming inhuman.

Janer, a human who was indentured and now works for, a Wasp Hivemind, is on Spatterjay on orders from the Hive. He doesn’t know why and in all honesty, he doesn’t want to know why. But the Hive wants to expand and a world outside of the Polity would suit it perfectly. Janers is along for the ride and the promise of ten million new carth shillings, enough to allow him to be free of the Hive forever.

Erlan. Young hooper. A hooper is someone with the virus. A young hooper is anyone infected for less than 200 years. She was infected and then left Spatterjay to explore the galaxies. But now she’s back and she’s not sure she wants to keep on living. Her mission is to find Captain Ambel and either have him kill her or show her how to live, as all the Captains of Spatterjay are over 700 years old.

Throw in a Prador trying to clean up its trail from the Prador War 1000 years ago, one of the Eight who isn’t dead, Jay Hooper who is now a 12foot tall monstrosity that is practically unkillable, some mercenaries and a couple of AI’s and you’ve got yourself quite a story!

Oh, I forgot to mention the sentient Sails, which might just try to take the planet for themselves.

 

My Thoughts:

This was the best Polity book by Asher so far. It had super bloody ultra violent action. It had dead people, it had the Skinner. That thing is surviving even after having its head cut off and kept in a box by Captain Ambel. Hiveminds and Prador and the list goes on and on and on.

While the Prador War was mentioned in passing in the Agent Cormac books, it was more of a blip than anything. Here, while it was 1000 years ago, we get a lot of information about it that helps develop the Polity into a more realistic society. It isn’t all knowing and all powerful and the Prador War showed that. That is a good balance to some of the power we saw in Agent Cormac where it appeared the Polity just rolled over everything.

If I had to recommend a place to start the Polity books, this would be it. It is filled with awesome new ideas and the action and thrillaminute ride never stops. The other thing is that while this is part of a trilogy, it tells a complete story. The Skinner is brought to justice, each of the characters finds closure in one way or another and there are no dangling threads “forcing” you to read the next 2 books. You could read this and see if Asher’s style is for you and if it isn’t, you don’t have that “incomplete” feeling that a lot of series rely on these days.

This is a good sized book. This edition is only 400+ pages, but when I read it back in 2010, it was over 700 I think? Probably those larger numbers were based on a paperback edition. Either way, this is not something you skim through in an afternoon. I spent a day and a half devouring this and “devour” is a good word. Everything on Spatterjay is trying to eat something else, all the time.

I also liked the introduction of the Hive Mind. Sadly, beyond a couple of short stories in some of his later collections, Asher never really delves into this aspect of the Polity. So don’t get too excited about it as it never pans out.

As a re-read, this almost came across as a new book. I remembered the basic details of Spatterjay being a world where everything was eat or be eaten and that there was stuff to do with the Prador and that a dead guy was involved. But honestly, this book and my review from 2010 are part of why I now review the way I do. That review did nothing to help me remember what I had read, while I’m hoping this one does when I decide to re-read it again in another decade or so.

Last time I rated this 4 stars. This time around, with it still being so enjoyable and such a fun read, I’m slamming that up to 5 stars.

★★★★★

bookstooge

 

 

The Voyage of the Sable Keech (Polity: Spatterjay #2)

The Voyage of the Sable Keech

Polity: Spatterjay #2

Neal Asher

4 Stars

 

A good riproaring violent scifi adventure. Where else but the Polity universe do we get robot pteradactyls, sentient wasps, animated corpses, nigh indestructible sailors, giant crablike’ish aliens, supersmart AI’s, sailing boats and lasers?

I couldn’t have asked for a better framework. I think that this novel fits right in with all the other Polity novels by Asher. Not the place to start, but a good continuation.