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Patrimony: A Pip & Flinx Adventure by Alan Dean Foster
Review by Paul Haggerty
Del Rey Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345485076
Date: 30 October 2007 List Price $23.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Patrimony is billed as the penultimate book in Flinx's 35 year long saga. Flinx Transcendent, which will conclude the series, is scheduled for April of 2009. In the meantime, we have Flinx off on yet another in a long line of side excursions which seem to exist solely for the purpose of keeping him from doing the one task he's suppose to be doing. But, since that task is to find a ancient weapons platform that is so powerful that it might just be capable of stopping an ancient evil so powerful that it can destroy an entire galaxy. One can certainly understand why Flinx might be so inclined to put off the inevitable for just a little while longer.

More Flinx and Pip:
Sliding Scales
Running from the Deity
Trouble Magnet

Flinx has a fairly good reason this time, or at least so he keeps telling himself. His origins have been a mystery that he's never been able to crack. Raised by a surrogate mother, Flinx only knows his biological mother's name and the fact that his birth has something to do with a bunch of outlawed eugenicists called the Meliorare Society. But now he has a tiny piece of information that might lead him to his father. It's worth putting the galaxy in danger for a few more days if he can finally solve this one extremely personal mystery.

The trail leads to the planet Gestalt, a small Commonwealth planet where the native Tlel live in harmony with a small number of human (and a scattering of other Commonwealth citizen) settlers. Setting down in his usual disguise (which somehow always involves him giving away his real name), Flinx starts to work trying to figure out which of the scattered human men might be his elusive father. Once armed with his shortlist, he's be ready to zip around the planet, interview them all, and hopefully get some answers.

But this book is no different from all the ones before in one important aspect. The universe doesn't seem to like Flinx. Soon he's in a race against time and nature, trying to survive a planet that he wasn't designed to live on, and people that would like to see him dead for so many different reasons.

Does he find his answers? Sort of. Foster loves to give you what you ask for, only to discover you've asked the wrong questions, and life is more frustratingly complicated that you'd hoped for. But what Flinx does learn, while perhaps incomplete, is important.

Flinx's powers, the side effect of which are massive headaches and an intense desire to stay away from all sentient beings, are growing more and more powerful, and he's really not any closer to learning to control them. One can assume that the hints that have been dropped about the form and extent of these mental powers will come to fruition in the final volume. The question is, have all these books been diversions from the goal, or have we just not seen the common factors that will give Flinx the tools he needs to succeed? Because Flinx is going need a lot more than sleight of hand, perseverance, and Pip, the Alaspinian mindrag, to keep from getting himself squashed like a bug.

While you're waiting for Flinx Transcendent, keep an eye our for Quofum (Sept. 2008), a non-Flinx Commonwealth novel that will, none the less, have a relation to the events surrounding Flinx's quest.

Our Readers Respond

From: Jeff:
    These side excursion novels seem merely a way for ADF and his publisher to make more money while he tries to think about how to end the series. All three of these novels only have a couple of decent scenes. I think the book is not worth reading in hardcover. I am hopeful that Flinx Transcendent will be a a better novel more like some of ADF's better early fiction.

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