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This review is from: Nova War (Shoal Sequence) (Hardcover)
Gary Gibson's 'Nova War' is the second part of the Shoal Sequence trilogy. Part One is Stealing Light. It doesn't make a lot of sense to read this without first having read Stealing Light.
It is a classic Space Opera, spanning the galaxy, leaping from spiral arm to spiral arm but, like it's predecessor, it really could have done with a bit more active editing - Gary Gibson's use of hyperbole and seriously over-the-top metaphor intrudes frequently and makes a gripping tale pretty hard going at times.
It starts slowly, if rather painfully, with the first hundred pages or so given over to the torture of our heroes Dakota Merrick and Lucas Corso by the 'Bandati', a race of winged aliens with peculiar names (such as the Proustian 'Remembrance of Things Past') - clients of the Shoal, themselves a race of strangely named fish-like aliens who possess the secret of superluminal (i.e. faster than light) travel.
Once that is out of the way, the book really gets going. It expands into not just a story of a few humans faced with aliens, but a great political struggle between factions within the Shoal, rival Hive Queens within the Bandati and the arrival of the hilariously bloodthirsty, violent and fanatical rivals of the Shoal - the Emissaries.
Behind all this is the struggle for the possession of not only the Nova bomb technology but also the search for the Magi and the Makers. So - a wonderfully complex and devious plot.
The timeline is not straightforward, as the story jumps about, filling in details from the past. In particular, we find out the origins of the thoroughly nasty Hugh Moss. And that did come as a surprise, adding to the layers of plot and sub-plot. Great stuff!
Oh but... I really wish it had been edited a bit better. After reading some phrases three times or more (for example 'whoever - or whatever' with the 'what' italicised) and coming across 'millions' and then 'billions' and then 'trillions', and the occasion bizarre and jarring metaphor, I was getting a bit fed up. But, like the first volume in the trilogy, the story is strong enough to keep you hanging in there.
Finally, the conclusion, although not a cliff-hanger, leaves you wanting more. Yes, I will be getting the third volume - I need to know how this is going to end: I need to know what happens to Dakota Merrick, I need to know what happens to the Shoal member 'Trader in Animal Faecal Matter' ('Trader' for short, thank goodness!) and to the wonderfully egregious Hugh Moss - and I need to know about the Magi and the Makers.
This book is not only a ripping space yarn but sets the scene for a (hopefully) thrilling climax. Could we just cut back on the hyperbole please?
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Initial post: 4 Sep 2009 15:16:50 BDT
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