Titan/Tor, out now
One assassination could be a power play… but two means there are potentially severe problems for the Fleet, just when they’re on the back foot in the war against the Spiders…
You might not want to read the blurb on the back cover too closely – it gives away a few of the surprises in the plot – but Adam Christopher’s second book in his Spider Wars saga blends tropes of the detective story, space opera and political thriller into a highly engaging novel. He provides thrilling action sequences on both large and small scale, as well as involving the reader in the lives of some intriguing characters, with an assured touch that means you are always conscious of the larger threat that the Spiders pose to human existence.
Where the first novel of the saga, The Burning Dark, lent towards the Event Horizon blend of horror and sci-fi, this is definitely nearer the pulp end of the market, a facet which Christopher embraces, giving us a villain who barely restrains himself from going over the top. This mode works in the context of the story that he’s telling here – the multifaceted approach of the first novel wouldn’t be as appropriate, given that he’s not trying to invoke the same feelings of claustrophobia that that story needed – but I hope that the final book of the trilogy is told on the larger canvas of the first.
There are a few Easter eggs for Doctor Who and Blake’s 7 fans, and while it would be very easy to see this particular story working in either of those universes, Christopher has thought through a very clear backstory for the Spider Wars which informs all the plot developments in this enjoyable novel.
Verdict: A highly satisfying continuation of the Spider Wars. 8/10