Review – The Line of Polity by Neal Asher

Posted: September 18, 2014 in Sci-Fi
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I haven’t read an author back to back for a long while and it makes me feel like a kid on my summer holidays as I delve further into Neal Asher’s Polity novels. Becoming absorbed in a writer’s universe is a wonderful thing when you have the time to do it (although the ‘holiday diet’ is coming to an end as training has recommenced).

The Line of Polity reunites us with Agent Ian Cormac as well as a number of other characters from Asher’s debut. Fleshing them out and giving them more of the stage, we come to understand and see a little more of the universe that Asher has created, offering a contrast against which we can consider agent Cormac. The novel introduces another, more sophisticated yet still psychotic villain as well.

It is in pursuit of this mad scientist, Skellor, that we find Cormac working with Gant, a former Sparkind and now a memplanted Golem, and Scar, one of Dragon’s creations. If that isn’t enough to unpack, Thorn, another Sparkind, is working undercover against the Separatists on a different planet when he encounters and is saved by John Stanton, a mercenary turned good guy. These two story lines quickly intertwine to place both groups on the strange world of Masada; a bizzare place run by religious zealots and peopled by enslaved humans and all manner of weird and deadly creatures.

Escaping from Cormac, Skellor uses an ancient technology, combining it with an AI to subvert a Polity dreadnought ship. In amongst all this, part of Dragon decides to help Cormac as the theocracy on Masada have used it as a scape goat. The ensuing melee is remarkable and Asher keeps a head of steam going as all the elements drop into place for a final, all out battle on the planet that is as relentless and bloody as they come.

Clearly having fun with his characters, Asher has a distinctive style when it comes to his villains. The satisfaction of seeing them vanquished in no way diminished by their clearly defined place. However, a number of other actors do inhabit a grey area, especially Stanton whilst Cormac’s own ruthless and strict action may place him as cold and calculating, his heart is always in the right place.

From the brilliantly twisted creations of the Gabbleduck and the Hooder to the frightening and nightmarish Skellor, The Line of Polity once agiain puts Asher’s creative abilities on show. The politics and intermingled weirdness of Masada is a great backdrop for the ensuing action packed story and the clever finale was a nice, succinct conclusion to a very readable book.

My copy
Published by Tor

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