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4.4 out of 5 stars31
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 16 February 2007
Following on from The Skinner and an off-shoot of Asher's 'Ian Cormac/Polity' series we are returned to the world of Spatterjay, where life on the planet is insanely vicious due to the regenerative effects of a common virus which gives those infected a massively increased resistance to pain and damage.

The Sable Keech of the title is a boat built for 'Reifications'. These 'Reifs' are people who have been killed but their bodies and minds held together by technology. The name of the boat refers to the only reification who ever successfully 'rose from the dead' through a combination of the Spatterjay virus and nanotechnology and whose re-animation has inspired a cult to follow in his footsteps.

Nothing is quite as it seems however: the WindCatchers getting 'auged' and waking up to the possibilities of their world, the re-appearance of a Prador adult, the robot drone Sniper getting his new (and fully militarised) drone body after 10 years as the planets AI warden and a coup amongst the Reifs and, of course the normal everyday issues of trying to survive on a planet where pretty much everything is lethal.

Neal Asher is one of the few British sci-fi writers that can be mentioned in the same name as Iain M Banks. He has a fluid writing style with a great sense of plot timing that makes for a gripping and exciting story set in an entirely believable possible future. If I have any issues with this book, it's the authors tendency to rely a little too much on the lifeforms of Spatterjay and other Polity planets at the expense of the developments of the main characters but that is really a minor gripe compared to the excellence of the book.

You will enjoy this book more if you have read the previous book [...], but this book is certainly good enough to stand on it's own. A definite 5 stars.
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on 4 December 2008
This is not a bad book, but it is not an especially good one either. Asher has written some outstanding stuff, but I'm afraid that The Voyage just doesn't stand up to The Skinner or Gridlinked.

By placing the action in the same setting with the same characters, the book comes off as a bit twee. The eponymous Sable Keech has easily enough character to act as the principle in another work, but it would need to be away from Splatterjay to avoid retreading old ground.

Asher shows some real flare when he writes of Sniper, but allot of the action with the Hoopers was just too familiar to be really gripping.

It is the curse of a great author to be held to extremely demanding standards, but at the end of the day it would be another of his books that I would recommend to a friend, or to you.
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on 29 January 2009
I am a big fan of Neil Asher's work but 'Sable Keech' is the poorest book he has written. Like other reviewers I think the book rehashs the ideas from the The Skinner and the characters just aren't fleshed out.

The book is only for the serious fan and should be avoided by any new reader to Mr Asher's work, who should start with Gridlinked, The Skinner or Cowl
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on 17 March 2006
I can't quite lay my finger on what exactly makes Mr. Asher's stuff flow so smoothly, or how he seems to create such a fantastic futuristic but dead real seeming world.
Voyage, despite my promises to read it slowly, is one of those books that just swiftly changes your priorities for you. Neal has mastered the art of switching focus between plots and sub-plots, main characters and minor to such a degree, that he switches plots at the exact right moment to hold up momentum for the plot being switched from and cleanly into the next.
it's art.
voyage comes as a follow up to the classic "the skinner" which i suggest you read first, though, he does a brilliant job of making the book stand on it's on, with just the right amount of back story.
the world is Spatterjay, where a virus left to it's own devices for untold time, has produced immortality in it's hosts.
combine this with a dark past with human slave trade with an alien race known as Prador, and mysterious Hive minds jockeying for possession of Sprine, the one substance known to kill the Spatterjay virus, and it's host, and it virtual chaos, as a ship full of "reifs" attempt to re-create the voyage of Sable Keech, the own known reif to successfully come back from the dead.
seems like this would be to busy of a storyline, but asher weaves it together in a style i personally have grown to love.
five stars isn't enough.
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on 4 October 2007
Both a well written book and excellent sf, it is set in the far future on the planet of Spatterjay, which is described in unusually rich and entertaining detail. As a true master storyteller the author draws us effortlessly into his complex world replete with a plethora of original ideas.

Perhaps its greatest merit is that it remains so highly entertaining throughout, in spite of being above average length, with a surprisingly large number of likable characters (my favourite being an AI drone - an idea Asher thanks I.M.Banks for).

This is my first Asher book but definitely not my last.
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on 11 August 2012
Maybe me and this book got off on the wrong foot a little, I mean by the time I got to reading it I had read the third spatterjay novel Orbus (highly underrated) and this meant that a lot of the main plot twists and events were given away. Also when I came to read this it was with the intention to read the rest of the spatterjay cycle and so when it came to a choice between this and the skinner I chose the latter and stopped reading the voyage halfway through. When I finally finished reading the superior skinner I continued where I left off.

One of the things that made the skinner so readable was the sheer interesting amount of back story going on and the slow burning style which built up to some truly shocking revelations. However the main driving "interesting" plotline in this book involving Vrell, sniper and a sadistic sea captain is mostly given away having read Orbus on top of this it is put aside. With the more central events involving a bunch or reifications going on a journey in the hopes achieving resurrection in the same vain of sable keech. But this story simply bored in very strong ways therefore dispite the fact that I didn't know how this story was going to turn out I just simply did not care. Therefore - knowing how the main events were going to take place - I put the book down and read Prador moon instead.

So in closing thoughts don't do what I did read the skinner first and then this and then Orbus if you want the proper experience but be warned half the plot of this is dull and that's a big shame.
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on 20 March 2012
This sequel to Asher's The Skinner took, I thought, a while longer to get going than it's predecessor - but it was worth the wait. Once it kicks into gear it is positively outrageous in the number of threads it weaves together into a coherent whole.

Set ten years after the previous events, most of the cast from The Skinner return, along with several intriguing new characters. Janer, Erlin and Ambel all appear, and are usually in some kind of peril. Here, a cult of reifs (reifications - basically dead humans who have been brought back to life - don't ask!) come to Spatterjay on a pilgrimage, with the hopes of being truly resurrected, as happened to the eponymous Sable Keech. They build a huge boat in his name and set off for the island where his resurrection took place. Unfortunately, not everyone is pulling in the same direction, and all sorts of merriment ensues (usually involving violence with big weapons and even bigger enemies). Throw into this mix all-powerful AIs, grumpy but lethal war drones, and the last survivor of an alien ship that crashed into the ocean during The Skinner and has now begun to mutate into something even less friendly, and you have a recipe for glorious mayhem.

This book really snowballs and by the time it reaches its latter stages it is moving at such pace that it's quite mind-boggling. Asher seems to revel in the big-screen pay-offs of his plot set-ups, and he rarely lets you down. Maybe some liberal editing in the early stages could have turned it into a five-star review but, as it is, it's not quite as good as its predecessor. Fine margins, though - this still turns out to be a cracking read.
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VINE VOICEon 18 April 2006
If you enjoyed The Skinner, you will love this latest excursion to the insanely dangerous waterworld of Spatterjay. I really had a good time with this book! It has all the elements I like about Asher's Polity stories, including his sheer creative exuberance. Viruses, hive minds, voracious monsters, exotic weapons, giant whelks, this has it all! Complexly plotted, fast-moving, bursting with action, swarming with extremely nasty alien life forms and featuring some ace futuristic military tech, this is a novel which will immensely please Asher's existing fans and will get him plenty of new fans too. Acquire this book now!
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on 19 March 2006
This is Neal Asher at his best, with a page-turning second sojourn to Spatterjay and it's lively fauna. Not only has Asher included and developed everything that was so unique and exhillarating about 'Skinner', but he has managed to come up with yet more classic ideas and characters to add piquancy to the multilayered plot.
On a normal day on Spatterjay, life is very interesting. During the course of this novel, life on Spatterjay gets positively invigorating!
This is one of those rare books that makes you want to start reading it over again as soon as you've finished. I couldn't recommend it more strongly.
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on 14 November 2014
Another weird and wonderful tale from the vicious planet of the aptly named Spatterjay from Neal Asher. Readers should start with the earlier volume The Skinner of which this is a continuation. A more hostile place you could not dream of, so much so this could arguably be put in the Horror section of books. Set in the wider Polity universe Spatterjay is a Polity protectorate governed by one of the ruling AI's and the Polity's old foe the monstrous Prador features heavily. The planet's creatures, a set of monstrous and deadly denizens are the background on which another fantastic tale which if described would sound too far-fetched but it all works beautifully and this and indeed all Asher's Polity and Agent Cormac novels are highly recommended.
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