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Probably my least favourite Asher book so far. I understand why it needed to be done in terms of "reveals" but the book is probably 2/3 in flashback, and jumps all over the place - now, recent past, past - which makes it a little harder to follow when reading in "snacks" (I typically read when commuting). It's also rather fantastical - Neal Asher has come up with some incredible aliens, so how to you make something even more alien to top that? By amping the MORE up to 11 and ... well, it just didn't work for me. It was a little bit like those superman stories where he has whatever power is necessary to move the plot forward. Unlike some others though, I did like the way it wrapped up - it was neat little arc - it doesn't need to be anything more (but may yet be).
I’ve read everything Neal has written and as usual had this book on preorder. Unfortunately it’s just not very good; the focus is very narrow unlike the usual galaxy spanning plot lines, the plot is confusingly broken into Past/near past/present time jumps, and all of the characters are basically blanks. It’s the first Asher book I couldn’t be arsed finishing, because I just don’t care about any of the characters or the plot in any way.
Compared to the other polity novels that I have tended to devour in a single sitting, I found this one hard going. As others have mentioned the back and forward narrative structure was distracting and I made no emotional bond with any of the characters ( only the main protagonist is set out in any detail - the others are just names). The fact that the main character is ( I think deliberately) not particularly likeable ment that fir much of the book I simply didn't care what happened to her.
There also seemed to be some plot weaknesses- Ursula supposedly has been courted by the military and ECS for her near AI tactical ability but then seems to make repeated fundamental mistakes ( with hardly a murmur of complaint or anger from her colleagues). A couple of continuity glitches also jarred ( sauroforms before the prador war???)
Overall I would have given a lower rating but there are some intriguing snippets about AI fallibility and preparations for first contact with the prador and the last few chapters came together better than the first 3/4 of the book.
With authors I know, I avoid all information I can on new works to prevent accidentally spoiling the joy of not knowing the story (I’m far too good at accurately expanding on the slightest details). In this case it lead me to disappointment as from the cover image I was expecting a bleeding-edge polity expansion type of story…
I got an attempted deep-mind exploration of Jain instead.
Still a good book. Would have been a better short story or as part of a larger storyline IMO. For once I’d have likely enjoyed it more if I’d known what to expect! My own fault though :-P
Some of the Worlds explored in Neals previous books have been mildly hazardous, in this work we move to a moderately hazardous world and explore the lengths a rag tag bunch of colonists have to go to in order to survive.
It doesn't end well, really for any(one/thing) involved but along the way there is vast amount of carnage and destruction.
Very early Polity, pre and leading to start of Prador war. But very much about Jain as well- can’t help wondering if we are seeing the birth of Dragon. Cracking story, as one would expect from Mr Asher. Found it very hard to put down. Probably doesn’t matter when, in the various series, you read it. Personally, I rather liked it’s position - sometimes it’s nice to have a window into the future past, so to speak.
Well, where to start: there is one main lead character; Ursula. The novel revolves around her life, and the narrative, well, ‘flip-flops’ back and forth in a past-present, format. I found this distracting, and without any great depth of character even then. The other characters get practically nothing, yes they all do stuff to contribute to the narrative, but they seem to be regarded very much as bit players… The initial enemies are the classic alien monsters, morphing and being ruthless.. It does all end up in a suitable crescendo of violence.. This is the first,err,’pot boiler’, I have read from an otherwise great author..l
I think this way of the reader having to go backwards and forwards is a way of hiding some error in the story OR because the author is getting famous he thinks he can try something different but it did not work . As the book is in digital format it could be cut into a proper dateline and resold a bit cheaper with a sorry note from the author.