Sunday, May 24, 2009

Review: The Prefect

With Absolution Gap being such a big disappointment, I could not bring myself to dive into The Prefect right away, even though the library had delivered both books at the same time. Nevertheless, by the time I was half way through the novel, I found myself visiting the library's web-site and ordering every book Reynolds has written that the library has.

The Prefect revolves around Tom Dreyfuss, a policeman of sorts during the Yellowstone System's Belle Epoque. What's great about this setting is that from previous novels, we know the fate of the system, but since those stories took place after a major disaster, we never get to know about the Glitter Band before it became the Rust Belt. The setting, then, is both different yet familiar to fans of the series. Even better, Reynolds has to clue you into the setting whether or not you're an old hand or a new reader. Technically, this is brilliantly done, and a clear case of the author in complete command of his universe as well as the stories he wants to tell.

Set in a post-singularity world, the story begins with Tom Dreyfuss investigating a mass-murder --- someone has destroyed an entire space habitat. From there, the story proceeds to increase in scope, as Dreyfuss has to unwind plots both within and without the Panoply (the police force for the Glitter Band) that ultimately determine the fate of the system. All throughout, we get hints and names that are familiar to us from previous novels, yet none of that name dropping is an inside-reference --- Reynolds deftly ties it altogether, and we see that what we thought were side-references in previous novels can be seen as scene-setting for this one.

Amazingly, after my complaints of wooden characters in previous novels, we now see fully-formed characters. Dreyfuss is very much not a cardboard cut-out, and we learn to respect him. There weren't any obviously wooden characters in this one, except perhaps for the villain. The only real criticism of this book is that despite the initial setup as a crime novel, it really turns into a techno thriller in the end, as the author does tell you who the traitor is long before Dreyfuss gets to him.

Nevertheless, this novel is highly recommended, and well worth paying the $10.80 Kindle price for if you're too impatient to wait for the library.
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