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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, just different
I read a lot of disappointed reviewers' comments on this book before I bought it. I've read all of Neal Asher's 'Polity' novels which I have enjoyed immensely so bought it anyway but expected to come away hugely disappointed.

Well, I didn't. I thought it was a good story in its own right and echoed many themes used in 'Polity' novels from a different...
Published on 9 Mar 2012 by Longshot

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1.0 out of 5 stars How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!
Poor Neal Asher.. Whilst I'm not going to claim to be an expert in his work, I read and greatly enjoyed hill diggers at the sensitive age of 14, and as possibly the first heavy sic fi I read it left a big impact, although I did initially struggle to comprehend the fact that it was absolutely nothing like star wars. At all. I read Line war shortly afterwards, only finding...
Published 29 days ago by Joshua Ryan


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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, just different, 9 Mar 2012
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This review is from: The Departure (Owner Trilogy Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
I read a lot of disappointed reviewers' comments on this book before I bought it. I've read all of Neal Asher's 'Polity' novels which I have enjoyed immensely so bought it anyway but expected to come away hugely disappointed.

Well, I didn't. I thought it was a good story in its own right and echoed many themes used in 'Polity' novels from a different perspective and within a more familiar framework.

I think many people may have been disappointed by the fact that the main character, Alan Saul, is not particularly likeable and is portrayed as something of an 'anti-hero'. In many stories, a person/entity such as Saul would be the bad guy. However, as a long time reader of the Thomas Covenant stories, I can deal with the 'anti-hero' concept and didn't feel it was a problem.

There's also been a lot of comment about the amount of violence in the book. I think it is more bloody than other works of his but it's hardly venturing into Shaun Hutson territory. It's there but it's not covered in minute detail.

However, it's not perfect. I would have liked more character definition, even if it only made me dislike them more. A lot of the characters, including the main ones, felt a bit shallow. I'm also not entirely convinced about the basic plotline right now but, given this is the apparently the first of a series, I would assume that there's a bigger picture to be revealed and I'm certainly interested enough in what happens to buy the next instalment and find out.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dystopian horror!, 13 Nov 2013
By 
R. P. Wright "Mr Skinner" (Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
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A really enjoyable book and exactly the kind of work Mr Asher has been entertaining us with for a long time now. The build up does have its fair share of deus ex machina to get us to the concluding off world fire fights, but if you can live with that then the closing 150 or so pages are a ripping read. There are a lot of critical reviews and of the ones I checked out they all seemed to be concerned by the politics of the book- which is ridiculous. It just goes to show how dangerous these EU socialist bureaucrats really are when they start complaining about any potentially negative portrayal of themselves and ironically goes to justify the storyline (joke!).
Asher uses as background for the book's story a world with a centralist Global government which has spiralled out of control, in case you were wondering. Heavy connotations to the EU here.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Give it a go, 10 Oct 2012
By 
Adam Saunders (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK) - See all my reviews
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Are we all reading the same book? Reading some of the negative reviews I wondered if perhaps The Departure had been re-written and re-issued prior to my purchasing a copy?

The Departure is very dark.

It really is.

Pretty distasteful in places, but the writing effectively paints a frankly disturbing picture of a society that has surrendered its scary freedoms to the safety of governmental dominance. It seems to me to be a critique of over-reliance on the state, something you can see happening in this country whatever the colours of the ruling party. I certainly didn't read it as a socialist bashing diatribe. In fact to me it reads more like a warning of how a society can fall into subservience to a fascist like governmental/corporate system. A society where things have gone horribly wrong largely through inaction and apathy rather than through subjugation by some overarching bond-like villain. What I think gets under your skin is the link Asher makes between this horrifying future and the actions (or lack thereof) of ordinary people (just like us) in the present day.

As an opening book in a series I feel it sets the scene very clearly. It's quite different to the other works by Asher, which to my mind is a positive. It's an impressive author who can create totally separate immersive worlds and not rely on constantly going back to safe and reliable ground. I normally only read on the Metro on my journeys to and from work (about 15 minutes each way) so it takes me a while to finish a book. I found that I was so engrossed in this one that I had to read through it rather more quickly. Now I'm going to have to buy the second book on the kindle and then probably despair at how long it takes before the third book is ready, not that Asher is slow, heck I've waited for George R R Martin, but just because I'll really want to know how it works out.
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1.0 out of 5 stars How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!, 29 Oct 2014
Poor Neal Asher.. Whilst I'm not going to claim to be an expert in his work, I read and greatly enjoyed hill diggers at the sensitive age of 14, and as possibly the first heavy sic fi I read it left a big impact, although I did initially struggle to comprehend the fact that it was absolutely nothing like star wars. At all. I read Line war shortly afterwards, only finding out halfway through that it was in actual fact book five, an the finale of the series... But still enjoyed it anyway. So the mind which brought us the mysteries of the jain and the strong characters of agent cormac and co, now writes a story set in a cyberpunk dystpia. What can go wrong? Sadly quite a lot
It's initially told in fragmentary style about the memories of a man who wakes up in a crate headed for an incinerator, with a rouge AI trying to give him aid. We quickly learn that he seems to in world that seems somewhere between soylent green and Elysium, and the elysium comparison truly comes into force when we realise that the blurb on the back is misleading, as It paints it as a raher slow, word building book to set up the rest of the series..... WRONG! The Entire story seems to be an excuse for action sequence after action sequence after action sequence after action sequence after action sequence. Characters and concepts droop into the plot and then are gladly tossed aside in favour of more and more explosions, and by 250 pages in the book morphs into one long extended action sequence... An endless action sequence. Which we wouldn't mind so much if Asher had actually managed to make us care about his characters, who seem to be 2d cutouts with slightly relevant backstories, that serve as motivation for..... EXPLOSIONS! If michael bay ever wrote a book, it would probably read something like this... Asher also mangoes to be extremely gratuitous in his gore, which isn't a bad thing, except if the gore seems to be there to hide the general lack of plot...
The sad thing is, I know Asher is a good author. He just seems to have lost his talent, or is trying to appeal more to mainstream audience than he was before. whatever his motivations,It is still a poor read. Elysium gives us the same in a relative two hours rather than 400 pages... Watch it instead... I actually made it to the end of that.
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37 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Departure in more ways than one..., 5 Sep 2011
By 
M. Yon - See all my reviews
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Neal's latest novel is a departure of sorts: away from his Polity series, and the start of a new series, but a place he has written of before. The Departure is the first of The Owner novels, though Neal's story collection The Engineer (and its later revised version, The Engineer Reconditioned) tell three stories of the Owner Universe.

Whilst the short stories tell of events much later, The Departure sets up the basics in the origin of the stories. Set in the 22nd century, Earth is being run by a global authority known as the Committee. Its enforcers, the Inspectorate, rule a rapidly growing population with ruthless efficiency, often involving torture and death. The general populace are controlled by human enforcers and robot Shepherds, a Wellsian type machine that can both capture and shred people.

Things in this dystopia are generally not good. A too-large population using too many of its finite resources without the luxury of expansion means that life for many is arduous. The idea that `Power Corrupts' is important here, and there's clearly something rotten in the socio-political structures of the 22nd century. The world government administrators live in luxury, whilst the ZA (Zero Asset) people, who contribute nothing to the economy, exist on a bare minimum with limited health care and facilities.

To this we have Alan Saul, assisted by an artificial intelligence named Janus. Having being tortured by the Inspectorate, his past is a mystery and much of Alan's past is unknown to him, or at least fragmentarily remembered at best. His mission objective is to bring down the corrupt organisation. He helps who he thinks is his torturer/interrogator, Hannah Neumann, but actually finds that they are former lovers and colleagues. Saul now discovers that he was a key player for the Inspectorate, but one who was experimented on and tortured before being dispatched by Political Director Smith for disposal.

When Janus's presence in cyberspace is uncovered, Saul has to download Janus into the experimental hardware created by Hannah in his head, where the two become merged, if at first, rather schizophrenic. Now being hunted by the Inspectorate, Saul/Janus and Neumann attempt to get to Argus Space Station, and off planet. He finds that Smith is now in charge of running Argus and so Saul must try and kill Smith first in order to bring down the Committee.

Another of the consequences of the overpopulated and under-resourced Earth is that the limited space exploration other than travel to Argus, is confined pretty much to Mars. There, Varalia Delex (Var) is a colonist at Antares Base who finds that a colleague has been deliberately killed by the security forces there. The reason for this is that the security staff has received from Earth, an order which effectively cuts Mars off from any future support from Earth in the foreseeable future. Facing a difficult future, Ricard, chief administrator of the station's present Inspectorate, attempts to introduce a means of ensuring survival for a few, but not all, of the base's inhabitants. Var leads the rebellion back in order to remove the enforcers and keep her colleagues alive.

Earth is overpopulated and running out of basic resources, whilst unable to afford further space exploration. This leads to a base on Mars being left without support or resources and an uncertain future.

It's all pretty fast, dramatic stuff. We have city riots, shootings, space planes destroyed, the deliberate bombardment of the Earth from space, and combat in space aided by construction robots. As you might therefore expect, the body count is very high (though that is something that you rather expect with Neal's books.) This is definitely not one for the faint hearted in that respect, with body parts flying around and blood splashing many a wall.

Similarly, like many of Neal's other books there's also lots of cool gadgets: the robot-like Shepherds ensuring control, spider guns (robotic tanks), readerguns (that can recognise their targets before shooting them), space planes with scram jets and lots and lots of lethal guns.

In fact, this is a book with lots of Asher trademarks: rapid pace, great action, messy consequences. The political aspects of the tale showing the decline of a global network are quite well done, though rather unsubtle. Neal does tend to hammer home the message of "corporate greed = bad" quite a lot, as well as blaming the world's ills on left-wing measures.

Having watched riots and unrest in my own country over the last few weeks at the time of writing this, though, some of the early scenes here are eerily reminiscent of what could happen. If, as some suggest, SF reflects the time it was written, then perhaps this book fits the bill.

On the downside, though well told, when it is simplified to its basics, this book in a series of set pieces does little more than set up things for what will happen in the next book. It is an opening arrangement, with the result that that some aspects of the story are started and not resolved here.

The characters can be a little nondescript, though they are easy enough to work with, and have the advantage of the reader not having to spend pages reading about determining the meaning of life. (Though that's not to say that there isn't a little bit of that on the part of the main protagonist and his co-opted ex-lover.) Some may also quibble with the eventual god-like status of Saul and how quickly that occurs.

Nevertheless I must admit I am quite pleased to read something that Neal has done away from the Polity for a change. It seems to have given him a new lease of life. I am sure fans of his previous novels will enjoy this new series just as much, and will find much to enjoy here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Asher at his best, 2 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The Departure (Owner Trilogy Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Very good read indead. Hope the rest are as good.
More words required apparently? I'd forgot why I don't leave reviews on amazon!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring, 4 May 2013
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This review is from: The Departure (Owner Trilogy Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Found this tedious in the extreme. The plot was all over the place, the main character was not very likeable and pretty stupid for someone with a genius level intellect.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Future?, 23 Feb 2013
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This may well be a glimpse of how the future global situation will pan out. The projection of the disasters possible if the world's population is not held in check. The political and social structure of the inevitable world government formed, to so say, govern the crisis of extreme overcrowding, in a world of diminishing resources. The story around these predictions is riveting. Plenty of action too!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lacks Richness?, 21 Feb 2013
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Maybe I'll be proved wrong, but... The Owner series seems to be getting off to a fairly thin start. The "Universe" isn't rich enough; there aren't sufficient irreconcilable threads...

It's entirely enjoyable to read, the same writing skill as Asher's previous work. I suppose, after Gabbleducks, Hooders, Jain, and viral intelligences, it's difficult to make a fresh start that is as "rich", with as many threads of unknowns, that made the Polity/Cormac/Spatterjay corpus so fascinating.

So, if you haven't read all the Polity/Cormac/Spatterjay books, suggest you do so. Awesome. Chronological order by publication would be ideal, but it's not that critical. Just one word of warning though: don't read "The Technician" until very last, or you'll probably spoil your enjoyment of the preceding books.

I'm looking forward to whatever Asher writes /after/ "The Owner" series. A whole new series? Or, I wouldn't mind some more stories from the post-Jain universe...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Departure, 23 Jan 2013
By 
Lostuzzo Aurelio (buia, ud, italy) - See all my reviews
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Great yarn! Unfortunately what Asher is depicting in this novel is a harbinger of our current and future reality, especially with all the Eurocrats that are doing their utmost to create a Europe mirroring the universe about which he writes.
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