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Dark Intelligence: Transformation by Neal Asher
Cover Artist: Jon Sullivan
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Night Shade Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781597808248
Date: 03 February 2015 List Price $26.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Changes are coming. Everything that is known, is not absolutely true. Asher starts a new series in his Polity Universe.

Thorvald Spear has been reborn. Using stored DNA and memories recorded in a gem, he is returned to the ranks of the living. His memories are not perfect, but he knows all he needs to plot his revenge against the being that caused his suffering, Penny Royal. He was very skilled in his prior life, and he makes a promise to help someone, one he knows he can't keep.

Isobel Satomi runs a crime syndicate. She wanted to become more powerful so that she could compete and thrive in the Graveyard between the Humans and the Prador. She went to Penny Royal for help. The help she receives is not exactly what she wanted. She agrees to help Spear, but when he doesn't come through on his promise, Isobel wants revenge. Her changing nature makes this even more important to her.

Spear and Satomi each want revenge on Penny Royal, but that may not be possible. Penny Royal has her own motives. All of those that have been aided by Penny Royal are linked, and most of them aren't happy.

This novel is set in an established universe, there are the inevitable inside stories that fans of the universe will understand. I have not read any of the previous Polity novels and was able to follow the action without difficulty. As a new series it needs to stand alone in that respect, and it does.

Penny Royal seems to me to be like an evil genie, that grants exactly what is wished for. The only way to avoid problems is to not ask for anything. Even that isn't a guarantee of safety. I am sure there must be more to the back story, but it must be in the prior Polity novels.

My one issue with the novel, is the changing perspectives. It isn't that the story is told in multiple point of views. The problem is that it switches perspectives. Thorvald is told in the first person, while other characters are third person. This may of course be cleaned up between the ARC and publication, but I found the switches took me out of the book.

The revival of Spear reminded me of the resurrection of military personnel in the Star Corpsman series by Ian Douglas. The AI role in the universe reminds me of the all controlling AI in Orson Scott Card's Homecoming series. The whole of the Graveyard is a bit of the Wild West and the Caribbean Islands during the Age of Sail. I am sure that this new series will be enjoyed by his longtime fans, others may want to read more of the earlier Polity novels first.

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