on 1 February 1999
This book leads up to the Deathstalker novels. It is actually 3 books in the one volume. Mistworld, Ghostworld and Hellworld. A true must for all Sci-Fi fans. Mistworld is set on a backwater planet, a sanctuary from the harsh rule of the empire. It is also an outlaw planet. But something is coming, something that could destroy the planets freedom forever. Ghostworld sees a planet devoid of life. A mining project is in operation for the empire. But they disappear. Where did they go? A small team is sent to find out. What started out as possible cabin fever, ends in the team fighting for their lives. Hellworld. An uncharted planet waiting to be conquered by the empire. A select group of people who displeased the empress were given a choice, scout the planet, or die. Some choice. Of course, what they find on the planet makes them wonder if it was the wrong one.
I read this book before the rest of the Deathstalker series and consequently my favourite characters in the series are the bit-players who appear here, rather than Owen and co.
There are three seperate stories here although as the series proceeds you begin to see the links between the characters and the planets involved.
Mistworld in the first story. It's classic Simon R Green detective territory. There are some great characters - e.g. Port Director Steel and Investigator Topaz - and plenty of intriguing. I like the portrayal of the last outpost of freedom as a bleak, downtrodden hell-hole - it doesn't take much imagination to work out how grim the Empire must be to make Mistworld a preferable alternative.
Ghostworld is my favourite of the three stories in this book and Captain Silence is my favourite Deathstalker character - a good bloke, fighting for the wrong cause. I had my fingers crossed for his redemption from this book onwards. The invasive biomechanical alien is graphically described and Green creates real tension as they poke around the base. The only slight grumble is I never did fathom out what exactly had happened to Carrion - is he dead or what?
Hellworld is a good book but it ramps up the gore and grimness another notch! There are more likeable characters and loads more clues and links to other books - e.g. information about the Arena and what life on the Rim can do to you (although why it does it isn't clear until Deathstalker Destiny.) It also includes one of the more unusual features of Simon R Green books internal monologues of minor characters that explain what they're up to, but whose actions and motivations remain invisable to the main players. e.g. Dr Williams' plotting in this case; or John Silver's jelaousy in Deathstalker War. It's odd simply because you never really get to hear what Investigators Krystel and Frost or what Hazel think or feel.
on 31 July 2005
You can almost tell from the cover that this is going to be a bad book. Clichéd 'heroine in imminent danger' and all that.
Nevertheless I went and bought it, what a waste of a fiver! There are 3 short stories but the fact that two of the three are almost identical in plot and characterisation tells you a lot about the authors limited range.
They jump from one badly written blood and gore fight scene to the next, the characters are poorly developed and weak that you just can't be bothered to care about them.
I think we're supposed to be impressed by the ruthless near invincibility of the 'Investigators' but they're so cheesy and corny macho (even though they're female) that you want them to get devoured by some alien at the earliest opportunity!
The stories are also riddled with contradictions and implausible technologies (even for a Sci Fi). For example, the hand blasters so coveted by the characters can only fire once every couple of minutes, because get this, they need to recharge! What's that all about, were in a future where interplanetary travel is commonplace yet you have a rate of fire measured in minutes? Anyone with one of these blasters would be at a massive disadvantage if confronted by someone with a revolver straight out of a Spaghetti Western! It's just bloomin' silly!
Honestly, do yourself a favour and go buy something by Neil Asher or Richard Morgan, I can guarantee they'll be a far better read than this drivel.