RogerBW's Blog

Judgment of Mars, Glynn Stewart 06 February 2023

2017 SF, fifth of its series. Montgomery and the Mage-King's forces are cleaning up the conspiracy… but someone else is ahead of them.

If this series were a trilogy, this book would be the middle volume. Alien Arcana set up the secrets and the conspiracy, and broke its back, but this book doesn't really answer the questions that were raised.

Instead, we get a frustrating hunt for people who are already being assassinated; we keep getting promises of answers, but the kill teams are always one step in front. There's some slight resolution here, in that the kill teams themselves are eventually identified.

In a secondary plot, Montgomery's hauled in front of the Council to justify his actions (he has, after all, killed two fellow Hands of the Mage-King), and it all gets very political.

And in a tertiary plot, we get space terrorism, and something like an attempted coup.

The action is good, but I find myself unconvinced by perfect non-leaking conspiracies; it all verges too much into paranoia for my taste, even if in this case it's being done by taking over existing fanatical organisations and never letting them know that they're being run for other goals. I realise that this is all being set up so that Montgomery can eventually sort things out, but in this specific book there's a lot of the setup and not much sorting. Montgomery himself ends up seriously injured in body and mind, in ways that aren't going to heal.

In other words, it's the low point at the end of the second act. And while that may work very well in terms of the overall story, it's not much fun to read in itself.

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Previous in series: Alien Arcana | Series: Starship's Mage | Next in series: Pulsar Race

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