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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 24 July 2014
Someone once said that "Star Trek V" was really set in William Shatner's own personal version of the Trek universe. Starships that don't work, the centre of the galaxy being reached in a few hours. The Romulans being involved in a treaty 20 years previously (despite nobody knowing what they looked like at that time). It was Shatner's vision of Trek, not the one we had grown up with.

Well the same can be said about "Lucifer". On TV Blake's 7 mixed high camp, space opera, sharp dialogue and a certain bleakness. This book is more about political maneuvering and strategizing. Think "Dune" rather than Terry Nation or Chris Boucher.

In fact Chris Boucher's absence is quite noticeable. There's no real wit to this book. Avon is as cynical as ever but there is not one single memorable Avon put down along the lines of:

Vila: This is stupid, Avon!
Avon: When did that ever stop us?

Vila: When you get Zen working, ask him to prescribe something for a headache, will you? I've got this shocking pain right behind the eyes.
Avon: Have you considered amputation?

Without a crew or any other really memorable characters to bounce off, Avon comes across as a bit dull. In fact the book was something of a slog to finish. Despite being written by the actor who played him, I don't think Paul really "gets" the Avon we saw on TV. This is his version and frankly, he's not as engaging a character.
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on 7 December 2014
*Amazon seem to be jumbling up all the Lucifer reviews. This is for Lucifier: Revelation*

There was a lot to like about Lucifer, in an 'it's so bad it's good' way. Unfortunately the same can't be said of the sequel. Crikey. Where to start. It's nice to see Paul Darrow writing books, but by this point the novelty has worn off and the issues in his style are clear. Most of the plot is written more in summary form, a synopsis of events that happen rather than in any immediate, exciting way. It's very, very dry.

The plot itself is... I'm not sure what the plot is, to be honest. Avon has got Orac back and is flying about the galaxy slightly aimlessly. He goes to a planet and steals some fuel rods, goes to rescue some characters before dumping them in the hands of the villains, and then goes back to the same planet to steal some more fuel rods because he didn't steal enough the first time. Meanwhile there is a never ending parade of villains double-crossing other villains, and then new villains pop up to double-cross those villains, and then more new villains pop up to double-cross THOSE villains, and I genuinely can't recall anyone's name or motivation.

There is also an assassin who the back cover really plays up, but lasts for about a page.

It is strange that there is suddenly this massive Chinese space empire that is (and apparently has always been) the rival of the Federation. There's no real explanation as to what the Quartet is (at first they are the replacement for the Federation, but then it seems practically that their holdings are a space base). Because we switch between Avon flying through space murdering people, and the top level villains betraying each other, we never really get to see what this galaxy is like and how it works.

Paul Darrow seems to have confused Avon with Rambo, as he effortlessly murders anyone trying to kill him. His space shotgun now has six barrels. Everyone is dropping everything to get after Avon because they really want Orac, but Avon never does anything with him, he just keeps him about to chat to.

It is messy, unfocussed and unfortunately just a bit boring despite the constant death due to the dry writing style. I'll still buy the next one though!
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on 4 July 2015
I really enjoyed this - I was gripped. Of course I must admit that I am one of that generation of women (now in our fifties) who have fond memories of exploring our adolescent dark sides with the gorgeous Avon. He was always a fascinating character, and it is interesting to see how the actor who played him has been equally captivated by him, working out through a series of novels his own vision of the character's back story and also taking him beyond the end of the Blake's 7 TV series. On one level this is James Bond in Space; psychopaths in battle, with Avon emerging as one of the least reprehensible since he is not interested in lording it over others and is not gratuitously cruel. It also has all the slightly camp faux grandeur we love from Blake's 7 - for example, immaculately stylish villains sipping champagne on an Arctic ice floe. (Another thing I like is that although there is sex and violence, it is not explicitly described in real time but dealt with subtly.) Great fun - but probably best if you are already familiar with the Blake's 7 series.
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on 28 May 2013
The discovery that Paul Darrow had written a new Blake's 7 story which picked up after the events of the final TV episode was too exciting a prospect to resist buying.

Whilst it's great to have the man behind Avon at the helm, the story itself left me unsatisfied. 31 years now after the show ended, it didn't quite capture the feel of the show for me. The technology seemed more aligned to modern times and less futuristic and generally was more dialogue driven rather than offering a descriptive writing style (other than some gratuitous shooting depictions).

Avon is, of course, just how you remember him but there seems to be a cold, callous disregard for the rest of the crew from the show. It's only ever Blake that's referred to by name. Maybe it's the character inhabiting the author's mind.

I believe it may be being released as an audio book in the future so may translate better to that format.
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on 31 August 2013
Paul's writing has much improved since his earlier forays into B7 fan fiction, which I didn't get on with at all. Lucifer is a curate's egg but is, at worst, a cracking read for the committed fan. Unsurprisingly, Paul has Avon's character down and the second section, where Avon escapes from the bloody scene at the end of the BBC series is well worked through. The female characterisation throughout is strong, if rather too obviously similar to Servalan (strangely, when Servalan herself turns up she isn't drawn as well as these other characters!). The men, besides Avon, are treated as cannon fodder by their women folk and by Paul too.

There are too many anachronisms with the known B7 universe alas, for my own taste. In particular the constant references to percussive weaponry (shotguns, machine guns etc) and aircraft technology instead of space technology is rather jarring when B7 is well and truly set in a 'Star Wars' style universe. But at least Paul avoids reinventing teleport for the third time!

He does invent a post Federation war on Earth that sets up a 'Chinese' force patrolling through the universe alongside Federation remnants and Warlords. This device is used rather like a fairy godmother to get Avon out of major trouble from time to time but since Orac is buried on Gauda Prime for 99% of the book, you have to allow for some alternative fairy dust!

The closest thing to a fatal flaw in the book is Avon's relationship with Magda, which we are eventually led to believe must have lasted around 20 years but is treated by almost everyone as being a recent crush. There was an opportunity to put more meat on these bones without affecting Avon's characterisation - having Avon eventually walk out on a meaningful relationship for selfish reasons would have worked just fine but Magda is sketched too thinly for this and when the likely 20 year relationship timespan becomes clear it is difficult to tie it into the main story arc.

So it's not a novel that will win SF awards and isn't something that you'd read if you weren't into B7 in the first place and from my review above you may be surprised that I give it 5 stars but I *am* a dedicated B7 fan who watched the original series' broadcasts, joined the fan clubs and still occasionally watches his prized DVDs some 30 years later. I thoroughly enjoyed Paul's book, devoured it it in only a few sittings and then have spent many, many hours lost in my own B7 memories as a result.
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on 10 June 2013
This was originally intended as a review of Lucifer and was put amongst reviews of Revelation outside of my control (think this happened to a number of other reviewers too) After the orginal review you will if interested, see a review of Lucifer Revelation.

Stories set after the final episode of "Blake's 7"- "Blake" are mostly the province of fan fiction. The only ones I can recall which might be viewed with even semi-official staus are the novel "Afterlife" and the radio play "Logic of Empire." (*1)
Well now we have a new semi-official one written by Paul Darrow (who also wrote Avon's early life as the novel "Avon: A Terrible Aspect"). He gives us Avon some 20 years after the Gauda Prime massacre in Blake. Perhaps recalling his advice to Cally "Regret is part of being alive, make it a small part" he never refers to any of his deceased comrades, except for Blake and then only when asked about him.
He is stuck on Island planet Gauis 7, (there are a also weapons called Five 7's making 7 a bit of a motif) and wants to be back in the thick of things somewhere. The appearance of Federation soldiers on Gauis 7 may spell a way off the planet, but when they realise who he is, the powers that be send more after him, intending to capture him.
A prologue tells us why the Federation is very different to the administration of the series. There is now a ruling body to this version of the Federation-The Quartet. the Quartet and their followers introduce some good new characters; Gabriella, the camp Witt and the Servalanesque Dr Ess. Speaking of our favourite femme fatale, she is back too and does have a meeting with Avon. Servalan is characterised as a mixture of Servalan, Jacqueline Pearce herself and Sunset Boulevard's Norma Desmond.
She sips a lot of champagne under house arrest but remains an influence on the powers that be. She is as in the series, a woman who enjoyed power too long to give it up. There is a nice reaction to the put down by someone who wishes he could have met her when she was younger.
The only odd note is some of her dialogue e.g. describing Avon as "A cruel bastard" jarrs and doesn't sound like Servalan. Otherwise her appearances are a highlight of the book.
Orac has a cameo and far from being the character of the series, a self aware and self important computer who as Dayna noted, only ever treated Avon with respect, here he scolds Avon like some disapproving Vicar for his ruthless behaviour and seems to violently dislike him.
Avon himself well you'd be surprised if he wasn't characterised decently. Darrow portrays him as a loner, a man afflicted by wanderlust who is maybe too dissociated to develop strong feelings for others. He has a younger lover he cares for Madga, but only to an extent. He cannot for instance wait to leave her behind when he gets to leave the planet, but does acknowledge he's no good for her. He is very cold, unleashing an orgy of destruction on the soldiers etc who come after him-if you've read his earlier novel Avon a Terrible Aspect, you'll be expecting the lengthy descriptions accompanying carnage and detailing weapons.
The most anticipated part of the book and my favourite bit is the section set immediately after the closing moments of "Blake." Darrow plays fair, credibly getting Avon away from Gauda Prime and explaining what the shots heard during the closing titles were.
Blake's body is looked at to confirm he is definitely dead. The death of the rest of the Scorpio crew is glossed over so that if he chose, Darrow could bring some of them back in the next book.
There is some good continuity, better than in Terrible Aspect. The only bad note is that Darrow has forgotten that in series 4; publicly, Servalan wasn't Servalan & was posing as another person Commisioner Sleer. Here she was still president and was behind the Gauda prime massacre. She also sends mercenaries to pick up Avon and Blake which is kind of working against herself but we'll let that go & assume it was to pick up Orac in secret. A nice touch is that on hearing Blake was shot by a comrade, she guesses Avon did it.
Some undeveloped ideas include the alien greys (beloved of alien abduction stories) being on earth. Avon deduces someone is actually a grey but it is unclear whether greys look like humans or are disguised as humans but possibly this may go somwhere in the next book.

Will you enjoy it? Well naturally that depends on what you think should have happened after "Blake." Personally, I think its' nicely set up for more, stronger than Terrible Aspect, and a good read for big fans.

Now onto Revelation. Michael Winner interviewed about the film Death Wish 3 said "Well, it's a sequel and we all know what sequels are don't we? Rocky didn't become a missionary in Rocky 3 so it's Charlie Bronson shooting muggers again" So of course this is more of the same, Avon killing lots of people after his blood & his computer, and he hasn't become a missionary! The body count is possibly higher than in all his 51 episodes of Blake's 7. If you know Paul Darrow's writing you'll be ancipating lengthy descriptions of carnage and weaponry. Of course it's not all gore and there is a decent story too.
Orac is in the whole book and has a bit more of his old self-importance this time around e.g. he is contemptuous of new computer George. He is still disapproving of Avon ( "I'm glad I'm not you!") and says a lot of not Oracy things. To be fair though Darrow has covered this by having Avon admit to Del Grant (that's right the love of his life's brother!) that he's made some alterations, notably the on/off switch is gone and he now responds to Avon's voice only. Has Avon made him more human to act as a companion? He also acts as Avon's conscience in a rudimentary way.
Avon well characterised as always is a mixture of a cat with nine lives (he outwits all his enemies with effort but no real threat and this may be a little grating to some readers) & a man beginning to get in touch with long repressed emotions. Don't worry he doesn't hug Del Grant or say "I've missed you" to ex-lover Magda but he goes to their rescue simply because it seems like he ought to and is troubled by mistreating the George Computer.
He doesn't seem to have a defined plan here but one character speculates he may have a deathwish and indeed he seems to be a man who has accepted death is likely and near.
Paul Darrow's love of history creates a set up with the competing powers; the Quartet, the Alien Greys and the Cathay Empire (the quartet's main rival on Earth) not unlike imperial Rome- plenty of backstabbing and murder of superiors.
Much as we would all probably have loved Tarrant, Dayna or Soolin bounty hunting Avon or come to that Vila trying to sell him a cannibalised Slave, it's not in this book. Some of them could appear in the final book but I don't think that's where Darrow's taking the story.
It's on a parr with the previous novel and naturally if you enjoyed it you will this and if you did not like Lucifer then this is not for you.
Beyond some inevitable showdown with Travis' daughter Gabriela, I've no idea where it's going to end but I'll definitely be buying the last one.

(*1) I had a copy many years ago and recommend it. Paul Darrow plays Avon, supported by Jacqueline Pearce as Servalan, Peter Tuddenham as Orac and Gareth Thomas as a ghostly Blake. A good script with an ending you will either love or hate!
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on 5 January 2015
It was a while ago that I read the first book, but I remember enjoying it, so was looking forward to reading the sequel. Avon is my favourite character in Blakes 7, and Paul Darrow himself is obviously very talented, which makes it all the more surprising how disappointed I was with this middle book of the trilogy.

So why didn't I enjoy it? For one thing, there seemed to be never-ending introductions (and "departures") of various power players - few of which had anything other than paper-thin depth. Then there were the unimaginative, and generically described, locations used throughout. With a whole galaxy to play with, surely there were better places to use in a story? This also ties in with the first problem; lots and lots of dialogue, and a few brief action narratives, but not much substance to the rest of it. There are a few issues with the science portrayed here too, but to be fair that extends to Blakes 7 as a whole.

The aforementioned action narratives also grated with me. I remember Avon having to get physical on a few occasions in the original series, but most of the time he would think his way around a problem. True, in the intervening years he could have picked up some more useful combat skills, but it is really disconcerting the way he comes across as a one man army here. At times it felt like I was reading a Jack Reacher book, so accomplished was Avon in eliminating his opposition - including supposed professional and trained assassins.

But what I struggled most with, was the interaction between Avon and Orac. At times the responses from Orac bordered on the ridiculous, and couldn't be further away from the persona from the TV series. Orac seemed to display emotions, such as feeling sad (or at least wistful), as well as now having a sense of humour (although maybe Vila's tuition finally paid off!), and various other traits that just felt completely out of character. It almost felt like Orac was written to fill the void of normal conversations Avon would have had with members of the original human crew.

Lastly, it is a shame that I am still none the wiser about how Avon is even still alive, because the ending to "Blake" has not been referenced in either of the first two books. Partly because of this, and partly because I hope the writing is more up to the standard of the first book, I will be picking up the final one. If you are a die hard Blakes 7 fan such as myself, you will get the odd moment of enjoyment from it, but this seems like such a wasted opportunity to develop the character of Avon.
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on 2 June 2013
Thank you Paul Darrow. From the man who gave us " You're him aren't you?"" We have a great intergalactic political backstabbing romp. I read it in one go. Please can we have another one soon?
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on 10 June 2013
If you like Blake's seven you will love this, oodles of interstellar villainy and skullduggery valiantly combated by one of the best Sci fi characters of the last forty years.
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on 12 May 2015
Both books - Lucifer and Revelation - show us a terribly bleak future. Well, we always knew that the universe of Blakes 7 was a bleak one, but Pauls vision is even bleaker than the Original. Not one of the characters is someone nice, nearly all are playing ambition driven political games, sleeping around to achieve their ends (both men and women by the way, it's not sexist or something) and just as easily kill their lovers, nobody has any real friends and/or people to really care about, and the characters not playing games are a kind of cannon fodder to thrust the story forward. Avon himself is a cynical as ever but regrettably has lost his sense of humour with it, and that was the kind of thing we liked in the series. Furthermore, even Avon wasn't such a ruthless and cold hearted killer as he is in these books. Will I also go for part three of this series? Of course I will. I want to know how it ends. But I do hope some more humour can be injected as well as some characters that have more to them than being cannon fodder of game players!
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