All the usual Simon R Green trademarks are here - vivid, loveable characters, great descriptive passages, really unpleasant baddies and plenty of laughs.
The book focuses on Owen Deathstalker, an aristoctact inexpicably outlawed by the empire, who is forced to recognise the empire's inhumanity and cruelty and then vows to bring justice. As well as Owen and his closest allies - Hazel, Ruby and Jack, the book contains a veritable cast of thousands and lots of other stories are pursued. It's a mark of how well the characters are drawn by the author that it never becomes confusing.
Owen's a great hero, but a lot of the best characters play smaller roles, like Finlay Campbell - a man with two identities and Captain John Silence loyal officer of the empire.
The book contains some memorable passages: for example the Empresses' cybernectic maids/bodyguards and Wormboy Hell - are the stuff of nighmares that remain vivd after reading.
It's also interesting as you read on in the series to see the way that all the little characters and plotlines do get developed.
on 17 November 1998
Dark, Moody and Violent this book has outrageous characters and a good, if slightly well used, plot. It's back cover gloats a monumental story in the tradition of Star Wars. And I don't think it's wrong, It's probably a Star Wars for the '90's where women are just as much the heroes and villians as the men and both sexes are capable of indcredible violence. Green's Deathstalker is the first book in what will be a five book series once the final volume Deathstalker Destiney is release. Also set in the same universe is Deathstalker Prelude which tells three different stories just before the events in this book. If your a fan of the Game Workshop universe then this is the sort of thing you'll no doubt love.
If you like your science fiction short and sweet, Simon R. Green's Deathstalker series is not for you. This is space opera in the grand tradition, filled with sweeping turns and possibilities extending across an Empire of worlds and centuries, featuring a cast of human aristocrats, clones, espers (mutants with varying ESP capabilities), monstrous aliens, augmented men, genetically-enhanced creatures, legends and heroes from the past, and outlaws. The newest outlaw is none other than Owen Deathstalker, de facto leader of the Deathstalker clan ever since the imperial murder of his father. All Owen wanted was to be left alone to pursue his history studies, but destiny has a way of finding its chosen victims wherever they may be. Queen Lionstone XIV declares Owen an outlaw, and in an instant he is running for his life. Thus are sown the seeds of a rebellion that will change the Empire forever. Of course, that story only begins to be told in this first volume of the exploits of Owen Deathstalker.
Deathstalker first escapes - barely - to Mistworld, a cold stink-hole of a planet that serves as the one and only refuge of outlaws all across the Empire. In the company of fellow outlaw Hazel D'Ark, to whom he literally owes his life, Owen seeks out the Empire's most legendary rebel, Jack Random, to join his nascent little rebellion. Throw in a sassy female bounty hunter and one of the Hadenmen (augmented men who once sought to wipe out the inferior human race), and you've got quite an eclectic bunch of revolutionaries. Things only get weirder from here, as upcoming destinations for Owen include Shandrakor, the legendary planet where the founder of the Deathstalker clan reportedly lies in stasis, and - deep within the confines of the Dark Rim - the Wolfling World, home of the Tomb of the Hadenmen, the Madness Maze, and the Darkvoid Device, destroyer of worlds.
Strangely enough, however, especially given all of the action Owen Deathstalker and his allies see - and, brother, they see all kinds of fierce, bloody action - at least half of this novel takes place back on the home world of the Empire. Here we see just how big a mess the Empire is really in. Besides the Queen's constantly dastardly plans, we see an aristocracy run amuck with intrigues, secret deals, betrayals, murderous vendettas, and all kinds of juicy stuff that truly reeks of decadence. No one is really who they seem, especially the likes of Valentine Wolfe, the Empire's most famous drug addict, and Finlay Campbell, a comical little fop whose secret identity as the Empire's greatest fighter is unknown to everyone but the woman he loves, a woman who just so happens to be a clone - but that is only one of many other secrets that slowly reveal themselves as this epic novel proceeds. Several personal roads lead us deep into the underground, where a secret alliance of clones, espers, and humans plan their own revolution against the Iron Throne. I found this aspect of the novel even more fascinating than Owen Deathstalker's remarkable story, and the rebel assault on the esper prison known as Wormboy Hell proves even more exciting than the novel's closing engagement on the Wolfling World.
Brimming with intrigue, harboring a number of significant and genuinely shocking surprises along the way, and filled with fascinating characters of all sorts, Deathstalker is quite an exhilarating read. It's a rather long read, as well, and you should keep in mind that it is really just the beginning. This is a story that will play out over literally thousands of pages, and Deathstalker represents only an initial plunge into the vast ocean of Simon R. Green's creative genius. The book has a few shortcomings in terms of specific plot events, and it can be disconcerting to see how much of the novel does not involve the main character, but this is awe-inspiring science fiction played out on an epic scale. Only a select few writers can realistically give life to such a large and complex world, but Green proves himself to be a master juggler of words and ideas - best of all, he seems to have a full bag of startling surprises and plot twists at his disposal that promises to make the Deathstalker series something really special and vastly entertaining.
on 18 December 2000
There are two separate plots going on here, one about the Empress and Lords of Golgotha, and another about Deathstalker and his rebel friends. Presumably both plots come together later in the series but anyhoo, I was so captivated by what was happening to Deathstalker that I simply did not have the patience to read through the other plot, and skipped it all, returning to it when I had read all of the parts with the rebels in it! I could not put this book down. Simon R Green creates a unique universe, not dissimilar from that in Star Wars but more modern exciting and on the whole better (sorry to any hard core Star Wars fans that I may have offended with that statement). The perfect balance between science fiction and fantasy creates one of the most believable plots I have ever read, and you will have to keep reminding yourself that the characters are fictional. I can't wait to get my hands on the rest of the series!
on 30 March 2014
This book has a lot of quite serious flaws. However, that notwithstanding, it does have some redeeming features. A major problem is that the book is very, very long, and even after you've read all 600 pages, you are still only 20% into the story! The individual books are not self-contained stories, and several of the plot and characters they set out, don't even get a look-in in this book, though presumably they do in future ones. There is a lot of wordy and somewhat pointless exposition and it definitely gets quite repetitive at points e.g. we know one of the characters is motivated by honour, we don't need to be told this 20 to 30 times. Unfortunately also the story gets too fantastic regularly and starts moving out of the realms of plausibility e.g. moving between various modes of fighting e.g. a very destructive but limited laser gun, then swords, then later machine guns, all comes across as quite unwieldy and even a bit silly. However on the plus side the books are action-packed, the characters are okay, there are some novel and interesting ideas, and a hell of a lot going on! I think if someone had jumped in and edited this book to around 40% of its current length and reined in some of the hyperbole they would be onto a winner. However as it is, it's not a bad book, but it's not great either, and it's a very very long!
on 27 May 2011
Deathstalker is full of action and imaginative characters and creatures. The tale of a reluctant hero rising up against an oppressive regime is not an original one, but here there are enough ideas that it doesn't feel like mere pastiche.
That said, Green's ideas completely outstrip his writing style. At times the narrative is extremely clunky and takes on a weird, almost chatty tone.
Phrases get repeated within sentences of each other. The dialogue is very simplistic, and at times hokey and cliched to say the least.
We're introduced to a never ending series of deadly, terrible warriors or monsters. It'd be nice just to have some advanced characterisation (beyond "bounty hunter", "grizzled rebel", etc) rather than this need for a huge roster of powerful beings, nearly all with ridiculous names (Jenny Psycho? Seriously?)
There's a total lack of depth to everything compared to something more modern, like Alastair Reynolds.
The plot itself is pretty simplistic, the political intrigue isn't convincing, and then there is a somewhat strange obsession with muscles. The phrase "lithely muscular" appears over and over applied to a whole range of individuals. When characters aren't lithely muscular, they tend to be just plain muscular. It's odd that an editor didn't pick up such a repetitive trope.
Enjoyable enough for light, undemanding sci-fi. But the genre can, and is, so much better in other hands.
Other reviewers on these pages do a sturdy job of regaling potential purchasers with the myriad threads of the plot and the impressive cast of murderous despots, miscreants , bounty hunters , and bizarre aliens in Simon R Greens first book in The Deathstalker series , so I won't bother.
What I will do is impress further on you that if you read a more entertaining, enjoyable romp that this then E-mail me forthwith .....I want to know about it. Deathstalker has everything any discerning reader could want from Science Fiction- a truly epic galaxy spanning scope, lots of intrigue decadence and political skulduggery, nasty implacably hostile aliens, hugely imaginative settings and characters, a complex plot told in an unfussy enjoyable style with no little humour, a reluctant but capable hero - This is space opera so vast it will it will need several more books to conclude the story. And it all moves quicker than David Cameron spotting a hoody that needs hugging.
It's a cliché I know, but I found it near impossible to put this book down, even reading snatches when I went to the toilet at work, then getting frustrated when I couldn't read more. Stupidly I put the second book in the series on my Christmas wish list and now have to wait till then to enjoy that. If it's as good this , and I'm sure it will be, then Christmas be dammed , I know what I,,ll be doing for the days afterwards. Who needs Santa and the Snowman when you can have Owen Deathstalker, Hazel D, Ark Hadenmen, Espers.... and aliens so aggressive and dangerous they would make Arnold Schwarzenegger in his Hollywood prime crap his pants.
on 25 May 2015
To me this read like the futuristic fantasy of star wars, meeting the musclebound cutthroat brutality of Conan the barbarian in the style of an old early 90's manga movie.
The characters seem very anime inspired, as does the fighting and a lot of the time it read like an amateur fan fiction story.
if this was made in to a motion picture, anime format is the only style I could see this as.
Good fun, but when you read 14 pages of a few of the main characters watching anonymous gladiator slaughter anonymous victim, its like writing about your characters watching t.v.
on 27 November 2003
Basically this book has everything. If you like Star Wars then you will love it. Multiple plotlines spanning several worlds give a rich and entertaining vision of the future. The downtrodden hero beset at every turn by people and things wanting to take his head off is not an original thought but Simon R. Green pulls it off with great skill. With a body count that will rise into the millions, when you read further into the series, you are never far from action and excitement. Also the dark destiny awaiting mankind gives you the idea that while vast, the human empire has too long stagnated in its grandeur. Who else can rouse it but Owen Deathstalker, quite possibly the best hero to be put into written word. I love this book and I'm sure all Sci-fi fans will. Plus it has an alien killing machine that would make even the mighty Ripley quake in her boots.
on 15 May 2000
A great start to a story. The main charctures are refreshingly not pure and good, but have darker aspects to them.