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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A SF book that isn't a sequel? I might have to sit down!
At just over 400 pages, Cowl certainly deserved credit for being a sleek, self-contained little book, that doesn't commit you to buying another endless series of novels just to find out what happened. The book never outstays its welcome, the pace is brisk and nothing seems extraneous. The plot, hackneyed though it might be, has enough polish to feel fresh and comes with...
Published on 20 Jun 2004 by Mike Richards

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cowl
Not sure I entirely agree with the other reviewers. The time travel concept is well handled and works. The author has really thought it through. Also there's some very good twists in the plot and an interesting resolution. But Cowl's motivation doesn't really stack up and there are a lot of unanswered questions by the end.
A good read nonetheless but I don't think...
Published on 17 April 2004


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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A SF book that isn't a sequel? I might have to sit down!, 20 Jun 2004
This review is from: Cowl (Hardcover)
At just over 400 pages, Cowl certainly deserved credit for being a sleek, self-contained little book, that doesn't commit you to buying another endless series of novels just to find out what happened. The book never outstays its welcome, the pace is brisk and nothing seems extraneous. The plot, hackneyed though it might be, has enough polish to feel fresh and comes with enough new ideas to persuade you that Cowl is original.
Asher has sat down, come up with a series of fabulous SF ideas (biological time machines anyone?), thought up two lead characters that you care about - and yes, might even like and then put them up against a truly diabolical baddie. It sounds simple - but so many books don't get these basics right.
Enjoy the rollicking good pace, the superb action and the novel characterisations - Cowl is a fine book that stands apart on shelves filled with derivative bloated monstrosities.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cowl, 17 April 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Cowl (Hardcover)
Not sure I entirely agree with the other reviewers. The time travel concept is well handled and works. The author has really thought it through. Also there's some very good twists in the plot and an interesting resolution. But Cowl's motivation doesn't really stack up and there are a lot of unanswered questions by the end.
A good read nonetheless but I don't think it's as good as Gridlinked or The Skinner, both of which are absolutely excellent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If you like the Polity novels, you might be a little disappointed with this one..., 8 May 2008
By 
Jeff Eldridge (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cowl (Paperback)
I bought this (though not on Amazon) as an impulse purchase knowing it wasn't related to Asher's excellent Polity series. While I agree with other reviewer's opinions in that it is good, I do feel that much of Polly's journey back through time was just padding. This story was in need of tighter editing.

A good read, but not a patch on The Skinner or Polity Agent.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a space opera but through time instead, 18 Jan 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: Cowl (Paperback)
The book progresses at a good pace and the time travel aspect is handled well. By using the time travel to expand the scope, the book reads like a space opera - instead of fighting a war across the universe, the war is fought across time. The two central characters are likable and I was genuinely intrigued to see how it would end.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pay attention I will say this only once, 23 Mar 2004
This review is from: Cowl (Hardcover)
Neal actually does a good job of revisiting the complicated time travel concepts (something about a pool table, a cue and a sheet) but this is not a book for the tube. You need a quiet corner and a chunk of time to get your head around mantisals and vorpal constructs and the probability slope.
The core of the book is the story of two characters in our future who travel back into the distant past. Chronologically they travel a long way but geographically most of the story is set in Essex. You'll probably only appreciate this if you live in East Anglia.
To comment further would risk spoiling the book - buy it and enjoy it. I love reading books a second time and I think this book will get even better when re-read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stand-alone, fast-paced and fun, 6 Mar 2012
By 
Steve D (London, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Cowl (Paperback)
I have come to the conclusion that Neal Asher is quite mad - or, at least, his books are insane. In his hands it's science fiction with the dial turned up to 11, in a Spinal Tap stylee (but without the miniature Stone Henge). He writes with real verve and drags you along for the ride, kicking and screaming. If you're looking for an inventive, wild, exciting ride, he's the man for the job, just be prepared to have all your preconceptions of stuffy old sf books ripped up and thrown back in your face.

I have no idea how to even start describing 'Cowl'. Most of his novels are set within his 'Polity' universe, but 'Cowl' is that awkward beast that is the stand-alone story. Set on Earth, we first meet Polly, a 22nd century prostitute, whose friend Marjae has recently died. When Marjae's brother Nandru, an ex-military type, turns up blaming Polly for his sister's death, he implants her with an AI device. When she awakes he tells her (in her head, through the device) that some people will turn up looking for her and he will tell her what to do when that happens. Sure enough, within minutes, U-Gov agents, led by a genetically engineered super-assassin called Tack, turn up and demand to know where Nandru has left a particular item. Through the AI device, Nandru gives Polly directions and she leads the agents to a mysterious item that looks something like a thorny vambrace, called a tor. Mayhem ensues (naturally), and she grabs the tor, which immediately (and bloodily) fixes itself to her arm and promptly drags her and the nearby Tack back in time.

That all happens in the first 20 or 30 pages, and it gets even madder after that, as Polly and Tack get dragged into a future struggle between genetically enhanced breeds of super-human called Heliothanes and Umbrathanes, who are travelling back through time to finish their war by hunting down and killing the eponymous Cowl, who himself has travelled back through time, killing millions in the process, to a time and place before the birth of mankind, and ...

Oh hell, just read the blimmin' thing, it's brilliant fun.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My 100-word book review, 19 Mar 2007
By 
A. J. Cull (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Cowl (Paperback)
From the writer of the Polity series, Cowl is a stand-alone novel, which nonetheless has all the elements that make Asher's other books immense fun to read. Human factions from the future are fighting each other on a shifting battleground that encompasses all of recorded history, and most of prehistory too. The two vulnerable protagonists, from our near future, are caught up in the action and find themselves drawn back to the dawn of life on Earth - where the formidable Torbeast lurks. This is a fast-moving rollercoaster of a science fiction thriller, chock full of twists and clever touches.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who needs Ian Cormac?, 22 Mar 2007
This review is from: Cowl (Paperback)
Asher takes a slightly welcome break from the Polity and gosh.

Draawing on some of his earlier short stories he takes an alternitive view of humanities future, this time with eugenic ssuper-humans in charge instead of Benevoloant A.I (HAH!) Alot of its setting of it rings true with the modern world, increasingly toltalitarin centeral government, endless taxes, and over reliance on things that aren't really that good for us, and where this may end up.

The characters are abcolutly fantasttic, who needs a super villian when you have Cowl or the Umbrathane who seem to live by a hybrid of Spatan, Dawrinist and Macivellian ideals. There are no good guys, they are all shades of grey, and thats what makes Asher's work so compelling, his characters have depth, they may do good, but that doesn't mean that they are nice people.

This is a great book, so why the 4 stars, well because there isn't a four and a half option, and this nearly scrapes a five but isn't quite there. The ending feels a little bit too rushed but this does leave room for a sequal.

I too just want to see dinosaurs.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great, 11 Oct 2005
By 
C. Jack "colinjack" (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cowl (Paperback)
Some of the characters are a bit weak which did mean that I never really got involved in the story. However I liked the fact that until the end of the book you didnt really know the path that things were taking or who was actually on what side.
Could have been a lot better but still worth a read.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent work but time-travel is always difficult., 11 Aug 2004
By 
Mr. R. Davis "rvjgd" (Southend!) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cowl (Hardcover)
Being a big fan of Neal Asher's Gridlinked, Skinner and Line of Polity, I was eager to get my hands on this book. Naturally I got it on release and read it all swiftly. I was however disappointed to some degree because the narrative lacked some flow. The time-travel was done well, but its always hard to keep it together in a book such as this. Still a worthy read, though the other books in this universe are slightly better.
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Cowl
Cowl by Neal Asher (Paperback - 15 April 2005)
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