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

 

Synopsis:

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.

★★★★½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Advertisements

Ghostmaker (Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #2) ★★★☆½

ghostmaker (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: Ghostmaker
Series: Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #2
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The Imperials are on the world of Mothraxx trying to prevent the forces of Chaos from taking it. On the morning of the final assault Gaunt walks among his troops and talks to various ones. Each time he talks with a trooper we get a story flashback from that soldier about a previous battle. We get 5-10 of these and then move on to the battle.

Mothraxx was home to a Lord of Nature (I don’t know the proper term in WH40K vernacular) and there is a gateway to a Homeworld that Chaos wants to invade. Humanity has been drawn there by the will of the Nature Lord even while thinking they’re doing it for themselves. A huge battle ensues, the Nature Lord gives his life to hold off the Chaos Forces and one of the Psykers, an Inquisitor goes to the Homeworld to close the gate.

Humanity destroys the forces of Chaos and everyone is less sad.

 

My Thoughts:

Having a bunch of short stories to fill in past battles worked really well. Considering how many troopers die, getting some backstory before they die feels more satisfying. At the same time, you don’t get invested enough in somebody that you’re emotionally scarred when they get their head ripped off by some Chaos warrior or their guts torn out and eaten or something like that.

The psyker who gave her life was introduced with just a hint of possible romance for Gaunt, so I knew she had to disappear. Can’t have attachments in this universe! Outside of Gaunt, his cabin boy and some of the ranking officers, anybody is liable to be killed off. I’ve adjusted my thinking for these books so it doesn’t bother me.

What does bother me though, still, is the very nature of this universe. If Chaos is bad, and the Inquisitors hunt down any human with psychic powers, using psychic powers, how does that work? And the Emperor. I’m going to have problems with him just existing, so get used to me complaining about him. He is as Chaos’y as Chaos so why does Humanity worship him? Grrr, I just don’t understand.

As Ground Pounder SF goes though, this is pretty enjoyable. Gaunt’s Ghosts are scouts and fighters so no spaceship to spaceship battles. I’m all for that!

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Kneel or Die (Kurtherian Gambit #7) ★★☆☆½

kneelordie (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: Kneel or Die
Series: Kurtherian Gambit #7
Author: Michael Anderle
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 336
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

There is one son of Michael left, one final Forsaken, who is defying Bethany Anne. He begins the process of a multi-prong attack based on what he learned from the last attack in the previous book. However, BA and Michael teleport in and Michael simply kills him. Bam, Forsaken are no longer a problem.

BA has been pushing for space worthy vehicles and her crew is really pushing themselves to get this project off the ground. BA needs a moon base to get out of the control of Terrestrial Powers. The team uses the new and improved vehicles on several missions and being able to get from one point on the Earth to another in a matter of minutes makes them even more deadly.

ADAM continues to grow and confronts a group of chinese government hackers. Now some part of the world knows it exists.

At the same time, the Team begins going after some terrorists that had struck in France. They begin hooking one member after another and working their way up the food chain. BA simply disappears each victim into the Etheric. No body, no mess, no evidence. This does lead to a lowly analyst at a small government agency discovering the disappearances and she begins tracking them. She realizes that “somebody” is making raids into foreign countries and killing people. So she sets out to track down this mysterious group of blacker than black operatives.

The clock is now ticking. BA must get her defenses in order: militarily, politically and technologically, as she is about to be discovered by the world at large.

 

My Thoughts:

The profanity has reached stupid levels now. It’s not all the time. It’s almost like Anderle has a checklist and there is one scene or two exclusively written so BA or one of her teams can simply swear in the ridiculous manner that Anderle has plotted. It simply is annoying and trying to figure out how I can just skip over it in future books.

I felt like the whole Forsaken problem was wrapped up way too easily. It was like the Forsaken were setup as bowling pins and then between BA and Michael, the author knocks them all down with a spare. It was rather anti-climactic. Hard to believe the Forsaken were such a problem if they were taken care of so easily.

Unfortunately, at the end of the book the author felt the need to include pages and pages and PAGES of reviews of previous books. Even more tactless and stupid was the fact that he RESPONDED to those reviews in the book. I believe most of them came from Amazon, so I’m not sure how he legally did that(Anderle being an indie I suspect he just did whatever he felt like without giving 2 figs for anyone else). Who the feth does he think he is doing something like that? If I found out he’d done something like that with one of my reviews without permission I’d buy a plane ticket to the nearest metro area, gear up and hunt him down for being the sick son of a bitch he is. This was completely inappropriate to be included in a book, without even going into the legal side of things. I knocked off a whole star for this section. Things like this are why I detest indies in general.

Other than those 2 major items, this was fun, just like all the previous books. There are some real kick butt action scenes and the little bit we get to read about TOM and ADAM and their interactions are fun. Anderle also pulls no punches about terrorists and what religious group they mainly come from. Of course, he soft peddles it with some pretty Politically Correct appeasement language but considering how blinded the West is to Islam, that really isn’t surprising, even if just a bit disappointing.

I really liked the whole Analyst figuring stuff out. It wasn’t that she was a super character but the implications are pretty important. Of course, Anderle will probably deal with that in the same way he dealt with the Forsaken. He seems to be much better at setting up cool scenarios than in writing them out with the right balance of tension and “the good guys win”ness.

There are 15 or 18 books in this particular series. I was sure I was going to be able to work my way through them all when I started but after this one, I don’t know. Him including and responding to reviews really undermined the enjoyment I had experienced. It tainted everything.

★★☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Terrorist Dispatch (The Executioner #448) ★★★☆☆

terroristdispatch (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: Terrorist Dispatch
Series: The Executioner #448
Author: Don Pendleton alias
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 196
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A terrorist group makes an attack at a memorial in Washington, DC and no one is sure if it was Russian terrorists, Ukrainian terrorists or somebody pretending to be the other. Mack Bolan doesn’t care. With information from the Stony Man intelligence farm, he goes after the local russian and ukrainian mobsters and then heads to the Ukraine to do the same to both their bosses.

Hitting both sides equally, Bolan pits them against each other, thus allowing them to wipe each other. Scratch two bad guys form the list of the world’s badguys.

 

My Thoughts:

I read the original 30 some Executioner books by the real Don Pendleton a couple of years ago. Vigilante Men’s Action/Adventure perfectly sums up these books. Mack Bolan was a driven man, capable, rational and unafraid of blood and violence against those who deserved it. Planning, action and guts were the characteristics of his moves.

This book, written by a ghost writer mentioned in the end credits, is produced by Gold Eagle, a division of Harlequin. What bodice ripping romance books are for women, Mack Bolan books are for men. Sadly, the character of Mack Bolan as depicted originally isn’t the same guy portrayed here. Some of the same “words” are used, but the man portrayed in this book uses the word “whatever” a lot. The Executioner doesn’t use the word “whatever”, that implies a lack of caring about planning and intel gathering. Considering he uses it at least three times in this book, it makes Mack Bolan feel very caricature’ish here.

I am glad that I read this but it has put to rest my curiosity about how the franchise has proceeded. Simply put, it has been simplified even more, to the point that I don’t want to read more. Not recommended unless you need a serious brain break for a day or two.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

The Wrecking Crew (Matt Helm #2) ★☆☆☆½

wreckingcrew (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 Wrecking Crew
Series: Matt Helm #2
Author: Donald Hamilton
Rating: 1.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Action/Adventure
Pages: 272
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Matt Helm is back working as part of the Wrecking Crew, that shadowy blacker than black government organization that carries out assassinations against targets around the world who are enemies of the United States.

Helm’s wife served him separation papers after finding out about his secret past during World War II and with nothing else to occupy him, Matt returns to the only thing he really knows. This time he is sent after a shadowing agent working for Russia that took out a valuable double agent for the United States. Hooking up with the dead man’s wife, Helm uses her to find his way to the Mastermind. With lots of twists and turns (who is working for who, are the good guys actually the good guys?), Helm bulls through it all in Norway. Using women like sanitizer soap, Helm eventually gets his man.

The book ends with his wife sending him signed divorce papers and a note that she and the boys are now with another man, a “good” man.

 

My Thoughts:

I liked the story. The twisty turny Cold War aspect was great. It was fun, it was thrilling and it kept the suspense up right until the end when Matt shoots the Mastermind.

Sadly, that just wasn’t enough. Helm’s sleeping with multiple women while still married is not something that I want to give countenance too. Someone as controlled as Helm CAN control himself in the area of sex. He simply chooses not to and I consider that a fatal flaw in a book character.

Throw in that he’s pretty “Awww, whatever” about his wife leaving him and the fate of his 3 children and he just sickened me. When he found out they were all with another man they liked, he was like “Oh good, now I don’t have to worry”.

Very disappointed with how this turned out. Matt Helm is no hero and characters like him, with an empty moral framework, do more to destroy this country than any hardline communist ever could. So I’m done with this series and will be moving on.

★☆☆☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

First and Only (Gaunt’s Ghosts #1) ★★★☆½

firstandonly (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: First and Only
Series: Warhammer 40K: Gaunt’s Ghosts #1
Author: Dan Abnett
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Ibram Gaunt lost his father at a young age and the data surrounding that loss was classified. This drove young Gaunt to become a Commisar, a military and political appointment where he is able to root out the evil of chaos in the emperor’s name.

During his first battle right before becoming Commisar, he is confronted by a prophetess who foretells several things. While everyone else thinks she is just raving, Gaunt keeps all she says in memory and uses it to steer his life.

Once a Commisar, he finds out that his uncle, a highly decorated officer, committed a grave act of cowardice that doomed Gaunt’s father to death. Gaunt duels and executes his uncle, thus leading to a schism between Gaunt’s new military order, the Ghosts and the order headed by his uncle.

During one battle against Chaos, Gaunt increases his fame. A second battle does the same and marks him as a target. The third battle is for a world overrun by Chaos that holds a secret that only the Leader of the Expedition knows about, and Gaunt. The Leader wants the power of the artifact for himself so as to become Warleader of the entire Host while Gaunt knows it is truly chaos tainted and something that lead to the downfall of Humanity many millennia ago.

Gaunt wins and with the surviving Ghosts (known because they are trackers and spies) truly begins his career.

 

My Thoughts:

This is formulaic franchise fiction. So I expect certain things and this didn’t disappoint. Another thing is that I’m reading about an already established universe and so my questions might have been answered 14 thousand books ago or simply dismissed. Franchise Fiction never stands up well to scrutiny; it’s simply not meant to.

So my questions. If Chaos is so bad that it can infect people, planets, etc out of no where, why the heck doesn’t the Imperial Fleet destroy every planet that has Chaos taint? Sure, that seems extreme but if Chaos is worse than the black plague and way more virulent, why is it treated so casually? Why aren’t Imperial scientists working on ways to “vaccinate” against Chaos? Why all the money on the military and NO money on research? If the Emperor is, in essence, just an undead Lich King, how is he any different from the forces of Chaos he claims to be striving against? These all popped into my head and were never addressed. So I just tossed them aside so I could enjoy the book.

This is a fun “soldiers kill stuff and fight battles” kind of book. The infighting between Imperials pissed me off, but it was supposed to. Abnett shows just how corrupt Humanity is, even in the face of raw Chaos. Considering this is Ground Pounder action, I am planning on reading all 14 or 15 of these. Wouldn’t surprise me if Gaunt dies right at the end though, that’s how Warhammer seems to roll.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Haunted Forest Tour ★★★☆☆

hauntedforesttour (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:
Haunted Forest Tour
Series: ———-
Author: James Moore & Jeff Strand
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Horror
Pages: 270
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

A forest grew up in one day in New Mexico, destroying a small town and killing almost all of the inhabitants. The survivors reported seeing otherworldly monsters.

The owner of the land opened up a tourist attraction where people could take a ride on armored buses through the edge of the forest to see the various creatures. He also hired cryptozoologists to study the remains of the creatures. The Haunted Forest Tour has a 100% safety rating and no one has ever gotten hurt.

For months now, crew have been laying down new track to the center of the forest. On Halloween a select group of 80 people are invited to go deeper into the forest than anyone has ever gone before. Unfortunately for them, the power goes out on the track and an accident occurs between 2 of the buses. Also, the monsters begin attacking, something they’ve never done before. The tourists split, some staying in the buses to wait for rescue and others to try to strike out and rescue themselves. Those who stay are eaten rather quickly.

The group we follow make it to an abandoned facility within the Forest. They realize they’ve gone even deeper into the forest and one of them strikes out on his own to follow the rails back to the edge of the Forest. The remainder are split up. It is revealed that the Forest is an intrusion from a demonic dimension and that the ruler has made a deal with the owner of Haunted Forest Tours. This demon needs a willing sacrifice AND a willing host to fully integrate his dimension into ours. He gets the sacrifice but is outwitted and some other humans destroy his host.

The whole forest and all of its denizens return to the their dimension and only a few people survive.

 

My Thoughts:

I have to admit, I was hoping for more. Part of that was me wanting answers well before the authors chose to give it. I didn’t learn that the Forest was a hell pocket until well past the 50% mark and up to that point I was trying to figure out what was going on. The deal with the devil explained almost everything but it came too late for me, as I was too distracted by my own questions up to that point.

I was also disappointed in how the military reacted. They’re shown as a bunch of lackwits and idiots. I was hoping for something a bit more in the vein of Through the Looking Glass by John Ringo.

The violence was pretty high but felt like some sort of B movie violence where it was just so splatterific that it moved into silly territory when that was NOT the intention. There was one torture scene near the end though that was just grotesque.

For a horror book, I never felt a moments dread. Horror is atmospheric, not just describing people getting killed horrifically. This had as much atmosphere as an empty elevator.

Overall, I don’t feel like my time was wasted, as I got all the splatterific I could handle but there was no nuance and the whole supernatural side of things was just shoehorned in. The ending seemed to happen in 5 pages and authorial handwavium definitely occurred. This book didn’t leave me wanting to seek out any more by either author.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)