Tor's wave of new Battlestar Galactica novels continues with their third story, Unity. After the excellent Sagittarius Is Bleeding, I was pleasantly surprised to find yet another brilliantly written novel. This story actually preceeds book 2 and is set in the gap between the events of The Flight Of The Phoenix and Pegasus in the show's second season. While the Galactica and the fleet orbit a planet which they are harvesting for algae, they are attacked by a Cylon base ship. In the ensuing battle the Cylon's attempt to use nuclear ordnance but something happens which fraks the whole plan. In the aftermath, they detect a Colonial distress signal and in the debris they find an escape pod from a civilian ship. Taking it aboard they find Mistress Eight (a Sharon model) and Peter Attis - a well known singer from the colonies. With the Cylon disposed of quicker than you can blink the story focuses on Peter. With the determination that he is not a Cylon, Attis volunteers to put on a concert on Cloud 9 for the people as a thankyou for his rescue. Then all hell breaks loose. The captive Sharon from Caprica escapes her cell, killing the guards and flees into the bowels of the ship. The Cylons send in more ships to attack the algae reclamation project on the planet and within a few days a mysterious affliction begins to affect people, making them loose control of their bodies and babbling like madmen. However, as the 'plague of tongues' spreads, a religious faction of the Gemonese called the Unity believe that Peter is actually the Unifier - a religious icon of the Book Of Glykon who will save humanity from the Cylons and lead them all to the face of the one true god. The book has a fast pace and it's a real page turner, giving the reader a feeling of 'watching' a well scripted episode. The story fits perfectly with the tone of the first half of season 2 and the fall-out of events from the episodes Fragged and Home are also deftly woven into the plot. Ideas like terrorism, resistance and religion versus politics are things that Battlestar does very well and the author has done a superb job of blending all these elements together. The idea of a pantheistic belief system versus a monotheistic one is a core element at the heart of Battlestar and this book does raise some very interesting questions on how certain characters feel about their beliefs. The interplay bewteen the characters is very well written, the banter amongst the pilots is great and the use of characters like Dr. Cottle is done with such a nice touch that it brings a smile to your face every time the acerbic medic snaps off a smart-assed remark. The inclusion of Tom Zarek is also well done, the events of what happened on Kobol changing how he must approach what he believes to be a just cause. However, like the previous novel the stand out character is really Gaius Baltar. The machinations going on inside his head are very well done and his conversations with Six are cleverly written. Obviously having watched events in season 3, the writer uses that to put in subtle hints from Six that confuse, irritate and scare Gaius all at once - the final conversation particularly so. The conclusion is well paced and there are a few surprises thrown in at the end that make you realise you've been led down the wrong path and what's really going on is..... All in all, Unity is a great read and a must for any fan of the show.
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This is the second Battlestar novel I have read after Sagitarrius Bleeding. Like the previous novel all the well known charactors are brought to life. The plot itself moves along at a fast pace and I found the novel to be a real page turner. A very enjoyable read if you like Battlestar.
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