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on 21 February 2001
Irving Braxiatel was Benny to go to Venedel, a planet under a blockade by the Earthlink Federation, to have a quick archaeological shyfty of the lost temple of the Argian Gods of the Underworld. Benny is not terribly keen, but the possibility of an artefact that will help find her lost ex-husband Jason Kane convinces her. How will hse and her party deal with the blockade, a hostile opposing archaeological party, and the natives of the planet who are hostile to alien visitors. And then maybe the gods are real...
The second new Bernice Summerfield novels, this novel doesn't really better the previous ('The Doomsday Manuscript') in terms of breaking new ground. Like the previous, Bernice is trying to carry out her task with the threat of a big, intergalactic power breathing down her neck. And as the story continues, it gets a little more pedestrian.
Stephen Cole doesn't write very strong, beleivable or distinct characters. Had this been the case, the story would have been better. It seems, sometimes, that the application of a strange accent is the principle way of making a character more distinctive, and that is not a terribly good way.
While this doesn't sound terribly enthusiastic, I should say that I had no problem reading this book. I just wanted it to be better!
A little more distinction between individual books in the series would also help. I hope to see improvements in the series, and also in Steve Cole's writing.
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on 21 February 2001
Professor Bernice and the Gods of the Underworld (to give it it's full title) is an improvement on the previous Doomsday Manuscript and sees Benny head to the planet Venedel to find the lost temple of the Argian Gods of the Underworld and Benny with a team of archeologists soon finds herself in a world of trouble.
Gods of the Underworld is very readable and the plot regarding Benny's search for the article is well told. Stephen Cole's writing is good and he allows the action to flow well, with several action scenes being well played out. His characterisation of Bernice is not bad, although on occasion she does seem to lack that certain quality that made Benny such a memorable companion to the Doctor in the NA's and a leading character in the BNA's. The villains are well written, with the Nishtubi being especially worthy of mention.
I did feel a little unsatisfied by this novel though. It was fine while I was reading it, but the resolution was the source of my dissasisfaction. Still if the series can now build on this novel and continue the upturn in quality, then hopefully the next book will hit the mark. Gods of the Underworld is almost there, but just misses it narrowly. Although, yet again, the cover is dreadful.
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