Rhysalan is a planet where a rough neutrality is in place. A home for exiles and outcasts, Sanctuary laws keep the peace and enable embassies of different races and species to exist in uneasy harmony. Gavin Tower is a military policeman more interested in dating a cute police officer than caring about what the Xenos do on his world. But the murder of a prince-in-exile is going to cause his self-interested offer of health to be put to the test, and he’s going to have to deal with some inner demons as well as outer enemies to come out of it in one piece.
Four stars out of five. It’s a shame Hinterlands doesn’t exist anymore, because this was a great book.
- Nice and cyberpunky. Tower has an augment named Baby who he relates to well, and the world excels in showing what a cyberpunk world based on surveillance and with some heavy carte blance given to police officers can be like. It’s unusual that way, too; normally cyberpunk is more concerned with outlaws than with honest (if not by the book) cops.
- Great ending. Not just the final setpiece battles, but it felt complete in a way many modern books don’t. It has a nice little twist too, but more on that in what’s bad.
- Good use of ambiguity. It’s not entirely a simple good or evil tale, and it throws a few curveballs which makes it richer than the usual Christian spec fic novel has. The relationship between Tower and Baby is a highlight of this, and the complexity of how they co-exist really makes the book shine.
- The ending. It didn’t come out of left field, but it’s actually a great twist that might have been stronger if it wasn’t hidden till the end. It reveals a theme to the book which actually is really well done indeed, but I didn’t really get how it could happen.
- Might be a little narrowly focused. There’s a lot of focus on the case, but very little about Tower or Hildy apart from it. A lot of going places and interrogating people.
- Content advisory. I don’t think it’s a bad thing overall. Actually, the book seemed even less gratuitous at points than a Throne of Bones, and most of the edgy content was great at showing character and motivation. I have to include it though, especially since post-Hinterlands, there may not be the knowledge that it’s a “mature audiences” kind of work.
It makes me sad to see Hinterlands go.
I know there’s a lot of dislike for Vox the person. I can’t argue against that. But for Vox the author, he’s written some great books for Marcher Lord Press, and this is just as good as A Throne of Bones was. It has its own style, and the worldbuilding is done nicely. The characters are realistic (although Hildy is flatter than she should be) but it doesn’t keep to a lot of cyberpunk cliches. I think that the main theme of the book would have been better if not hidden, because the book ends with a revelation that would have made for some intense scenes if just acknowledged straight out from the start. Then again, I might have just been oblivious to the foreshadowing.
It’s worth picking up if you can get it. Sadly with Hinterlands gone, it may be harder to do so.