Embedded (Angry Robot) Paperback – 28 Apr 2011
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"Abnett takes an ingenious idea and produces a nail-biting tale that has serious things to say about war and the news media." --Eric Brown, The Guardian
"Dan Abnett makes war so real you want to duck." --SciFi.com
"The cinematic scope and dizzying vision we're shown puts most recent SF movie epics into deep shade." - --SF Site
About the Author
Dan Abnett made his name in the tie-in SF and Fantasy fiction field, selling more than 1.2 million copies in English of his Warhammer novels for Games Workshop s Black Library imprint. They ve been translated into ten other languages.
Dan recently made the UK fiction charts with original Torchwood and Doctor Who novels. He writes acclaimed comicbook scripts, for major publishers such as Marvel, DC Comics and the UK s 2000 AD.
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I, like a lot of people here, absolutely adore Dan Abnett's W40K works, and so I bought this one with the hopes that it would be as kick-ass as those. Instead, what I found was a book that didn't really start until half way through, and then actually properly got going about two-thirds of the way through. Now I read a lot; from many, many different genres, and it's been a long time since I've had to wade painfully through a beginning that seemed to go on forever. Maybe that was partly my own impatience for the action to start, but then again, if I was properly hooked I wouldn't BE impatiently waiting for the action to start. It seemed to me that it didn't need to take quite that long to get things going. Or if it did, then at least put a few more juicy bits in to help the hooking process!
When things began to heat up though, it was very good. I finally got hooked and stopped picking it up only when I was taxi-ing on WoW and devoured the rest in one sitting instead. I loved the characters, especially Falk, and I humbly believe there was a little bit of genius juice involved in his creation. The action and the plot from the middle right up to the end were spot on - gritty and vivid. The ending, however... talk about a WTF moment. I actually back-paged on my kindle in case I'd skipped a couple of pages, but no.
All in all, a rollercoaster ride of a book. If the rollercoaster in question featured a mile high climb to the top, then a few hundred yards of screaming acceleration straight into a brick wall. I quite liked it, but at the same time I'm glad I got it for £0.99 and not full price (sorry Mr Abnett).
Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with the author or publisher; this review is entirely my own personal opinion :).
This is futuristic warfare at its most violent. This is the Hard Place. This is Embedded, by Dan Abnett.
Journalist Lex Falk is assigned to planet Eighty-Six, a world seemingly as dull and uneventful as the others--as dull and uneventful as the military high command wants everyone to believe it is. But Falk senses something different, and when an explosion is dismissed as nothing despite the evidence, Falk decides to go in undercover. He gets wired into the brain of Nestor Bloom, one of the soldiers on the frontline. Falk finds out that things are as bad as he suspected, that there is a war raging behind a smokescreen provided by the military high brass. And when Bloom takes a shot to the head, Falk finds himself in control of a body that isn't his, in charge of a squadron that isn't his--and it's up to him to not only get the scoop of his journalistic lifetime, but to lead his soldiers out of the Hard Place alive.
All in all, Embedded is a great read, fast-paced for the most part and loaded with violently detailed action sequences. The cast of characters are real and identifiable, and the reader has little trouble getting to like Preben and Rash and Bigmouse, along with the other members of the team desperately trying to survive a bloody war. The technology is believable and the weapons leave you in no doubt that this is some serious futuristic firepower. The firefights are when this book truly comes to life: the escape from an abandoned house, led by Falk, being a particularly memorable one. The action is hard and gory, brutal, and it really brings the finality of war off the page.
Unfortunately the book staggers with a slow start, a full twelve chapters before the soldiers are airlifted into the Hard Place, but once the troops get on the ground the novel takes off running and is flat-out sprinting by the time Bloom takes his head-shot. Some of the chapters ended softly, with no cliff-hanger forcing the reader to turn the page, but thankfully the story should be pretty much ingrained by then that you'll want to keep reading regardless.
This is the first novel of Abnett's that I've read, but it won't be the last.
I like finding new authors, new books to enjoy. I also like returning to familiar authors to read the next installment (Pratchett anyone?). This falls firmly in the latter camp, and is thoroughly enjoyable.
Two worlds collide and our protagonist, Falk, a veteran pain in the ass, gets caught up in something huge.
Great action and believable, engaging characters. Basically, Abnett.
And the story is frikkin awesome. What an imagination.
My primary gripe is that I felt Dan dumped the reader with an unseemly haste at the conclusion. Comedians have a saying - "Leave em laughing!" - Writers should have a saying "Don't just leave them!". We were just 'left' and as I put the book down I felt vaguely annoyed that a decent ending was MIA.