Probably one of the GREAT new authors of 2001, Jason K. Chapman has written a real scorcher of a novel - one that kept me reading half the night to get to the end. It's not often that a new author can fall into the habit of good dialog at the first attempt, but Chapman's is absolutely amazing. It's a strength he can play up to again and again in the future, because dialog SHOWS not TELLS, producing story pictures in the mind, just like the spells that his main character was weaving in cyberspace.
And here's something else that was totally refreshing about this book - you don't even get to find out the protagonist's name! Hey, and there's a thoroughly intelligent ending too. It caught me by surprise because, as the remaining pages grew less and less, I was waiting for a monotonous roll of drums as my own imagined scenario came true. No such bad luck. Fortunately, Jason Chapman is a novelist of style and originality and the ending was as bright and artful as any I could have imagined.
Chapman's story is of a cyberworld controlled by The Guild who, seemingly, are the good guys, protecting computer systems from black hat hackers. The Heretic, Chapman's protagonist, finds that things are not quite as they seem on the surface - and certainly not as they should be. What's worse, he's being hunted both in cyberspace and IRL (in the real world!). In short, declarative sentences that would make Mike Hammer proud, Jason Chapman has The Heretic fall in love, fight the bad guys and find true happiness. All in 201 action-packed pages WITH NOT A CLICHE IN SIGHT!
There were some wonderfully subtle brushstrokes too - the falcon in particular. Epitomizing The Heretic's freedom, while at the same time providing a metaphor for the watched and the watcher. Bravo Mr. Chapman. If that was your starter, your next book is going to be a real cracker. I'll be waiting for it.