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on 16 August 2007
This excellent book is comparable to Salt and Gradisil in regards to the first person narrative and also equal in terms of quality to those books (his best work). The novel covers the issue of revenge, the meaning of love and you will understand how unfair and unpleasant it is to face injustice and prejudice at the bottom of society's food chain. The middle section follows a futuristic war from the point of view of the poor drafted infantry through brutal training to repetitive but deadly missions in a foreign war zone. An interesting aspect of this is the nature of the computer controlled battles and the cool way in which hacking plays a role. There is plenty of mystery and adventure to go with the political science and the ending is extremely satisfying. Read this, then go and buy Salt and Gradisil at least.
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VINE VOICEon 2 November 2007
This was a toughy - the hero of the story by turns was self pitying , self deluding, and a whiner but ultimately, and you need to perserve here until almost the end of the book before he 'gets it'
The religious fanaticsm is very well done, the persecution of the headless and the casual contempt for their lives by people who feel supported by religion get you to throwing the book and saying people don't think like that - then you listen to the news and yes they do ..
The action is well done, the story as it develops and the hero understands the meaning of friendship and love in retrospect is excellent because the book drags you in and I defy you not to become involved in the story
I won;t spoil the end of the story but the revelation when he realises what matters in life - not cant , or religion but friends is superb
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on 19 June 2009
This is a great premise, people who 'break' the strict law are beheaded and their conciousness is downloaded into a device their have on the small of their back. They then have to live the rest of their life seeing, and eating through artificial appendages

Apart from this great and original sci-fi premise the rest of the story is a more human tale of a rather obsessed headless character called Jon Cavala. His tale of obsession with love and revenge is the central theme that runs through the book but it's also a story of hardship and prejudice.

It is not an easy read, the injustices he faces along with his fellow headless and violence perpetrated against them creates a sense of anger throughout but it is a page turner and the writing and description is first class.

A worthy read with a great ending.
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on 24 March 2008
I was unsettled by the barbaric nature of the punishment but stuck with the story. Much of the phraseology is what you might expect from the English middle ages but it fits in with the story. It's not what you could call hard science fiction but a projection of what a devoutly religious civilization could become if it did not reject all new developments. I recommend it as it's a good story in its own right. It also has a good ending which is a bit rare these days.
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on 23 August 2013
This book contains philosophical debate, action and romance, in a very weired and strange setting, in a weired and unusual way. For me, it does not match 'Salt' for flow and coherance of story, but I enjoyed the strangness of the setting and am glad I read it.
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on 10 April 2009
I'm not sure why I liked this novel quite as much as I did. As has been stated, the protagonist is not a likable character, often infuriating, and the central concept takes some believing. But it hooked me early and held me to the end. I suppose I like novels about ideas, and this is one of those. Not that the plot isn't good! It has something of the Victorian novel about it, the narrative style and the way events conspire against the main character one after the other.

The satire on fundamentalism, that seems to be the theme of the book, is also to be applauded.
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on 31 October 2009
In a society governed by extremist religious ideology, a man is convicted of adultery and sentenced to beheading. However in this vision of the future, decapatation does not mean death but rather a life sentence as a headless man - a carcass - living as an outcast and pariah. This brilliant book follows the newly beheaded Jon Cavala as he adjusts to his new state and tries to make sense of this new reality. An intriguing idea backed up by a compelling narrative which sucks you in, this is high-concept sci-fi at it's best.
Anyone who is a fan of William Gibson or Iain M. Banks should check this out, in my opinion it's easily as good as either of them.
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I found much of the book to be fairly dull and at times difficult to read. I liked the ideas in the book, but I really disliked the main character which at times made the book drag horrendously. I was also slightly unimpressed with some of the Sci Fi elements of the book they where just to generic and rather lame.

That said I thought the ending of the book to be excellent, the best ending Mr Roberts has come up with so far in his previous books.
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on 17 March 2014
Very compelling reading. Really interesting premise excellently delivered. Excellent twists and turns. Would recommend for all sci fi fans. Enjoy!
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