June 2004
© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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Riddick by Alan Dean Foster
Ballantine / Random House PPBK: ISBN 0345468392 PubDate: 05/27/04
Review by Jeffrey J. Lyons

352 pgs. List price $ 6.99
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Richard Riddick has spent the last five years as a fugitive skipping from one cesspool world to another on the outskirts of the galaxy. He has had to dodge mercenaries who are out to claim a substantial bounty on his head. Riddick winds up on Helion Prime, which has just been invaded by the Necromongers, led by the egotistical Lord Marshal.

Riddick has no interest in the local politics or squabbles as long as he can get something to eat and be left alone. That isn’t possible after he finds himself taken prisoner by a bounty hunter name Toombs.

Exiled on a prison planet, Riddick runs into Kyra, a young lady whom he met years earlier when she was a spry 14 years old. Riddick, Kyra, and a motley group of fellow prisoners make the inevitable prison break, fighting the elements and hell hounds along the way. Ultimately Riddick leads the group to do battle with the Necromongers with the possible fate of all beings hanging in the balance.  I appreciated and enjoyed the afterwards where we learn historical information about the regimes, which helped sow the seeds of the Necromonger race.

I won't beat around the bush. I didn't care much for this book and found the story difficult to latch onto. Certainly the book is full of adventure and the threat of an immediate gruesome death around every corner. The characters are two-dimensional and seem to have no purpose other than to move the story forward. The laconic Riddick talks in tired clichés. The Lord Marshal’s manic desire for ultimate power seems simplistic. Kyra’s hot/cold relationship with Riddick is a tease but goes no further. The minor characters seem to exist for the sole purpose of being killed off in a later chapter. Even the title is misleading.

When I see “Chronicles,” I am hoping to read much more than an elaborate prison break story with some maniacal invaders. Fans of Pitch Black, the original Riddick movie, should be satisfied. This is definitely the kind of Sci-Fi that recalls a style of writing more popular in the 1930’s.

Alan Dean Foster did a reasonable job trying to breathe some life into the movie characters with which he was saddled for this "officially endorsed expansion", but even his skills were not enough to make this memorable much beyond the summer of 2004 while the movie plays in the theaters. 

© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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