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Neal Asher is a British SF writer who divides his time between Essex and Crete, and who meanwhile has 21 novels (18 of which are set in his Polity universe, where The Human also belongs) and 8 collections to his name. Of course, these numbers also depends a bit on how you count, so give and take a few... let's just say that he's been prolific, and is showing no signs of slowing down.

The Polity is, in a nutshell, an AI governed (who took control of human affairs during the 'Quiet War') sphere of human (et al) influence spanning the thickness of the galaxy, but not containing all of humanity spread across the stars,  in contact (sometimes even without too much conflict) with alien entities and their spheres of control.

The Rise of the Jain trilogy deals with, as the title states, a resurgence of the believed-dead ancient alien race called the Jain (nothing to do with the religion of the same name, a rather unfortunate naming IMHO), and the developments, struggles, and outright battles this brings. The books in the trilogy are called The Soldier, The Warship, and The Human. As this is the review for the final book in the trilogy it will, without any doubt, contain spoilers for the previous two.

To start off the book we get a Cast of Characters, and a Glossary with the main terms and concepts. This definitely serves to get a reader from the previous two books back into the groove, but will not suffice as a jumping-on point for new readers. You might well be able to pick up the trilogy without having read the umpteen previous books in the Polity universe, but I would advise  not to start with the final book in a trilogy. 
These sections do actually quite a bit more than simply define things; they provide back-story and state of the action to bring the reader back up to speed on where we are in the story. Which also means that they are rather heavy info-dumps, of course.
This also continues into the first few chapters – some of these ellipses sound like author's notes re. plotting and canon, strands and story progress vs time lines. 

Well, so where are we? The story picks up straight after the events in The Warship, and we find our main characters essentially where we left them: Orlandine is back on Jaskor, and preparing the evacuation of the populace and defence agains what's coming their way, doubtlessly. She seems to have left a lot of her 'being human' aspirations behind. The Client is desperately trying to get into the Core of the ancient Species ship which came out of the U-space blister in the accretion disc, and then trashed a lot of the fleet there, whilst Diana Windermere and Orlik – Polity and Prador forces now under joint command, are preparing to engage with the Jain warship and its associated cloud of Jain technology which followed the Species ship. And we're not hanging around – 50 pages in we're firing shots.
Trike, one of the most fascinating characters in the entire trilogy, is now Hooper plus Angel plus Orlandine's tame Jain tech, and rather unsure of who is he is, what the state of his sanity is now, or what he should be doing. Cog is equally at loose ends, and gets roped into a scheme of Orlandine's to pick up Trike (who'd rather be alone), and head out to the Client to figure out what's going on, and what she's hiding.
Gemmel is now separated from Morgaine, and shacking up with Ruth, Trike's former partner. Not terribly relevant in the larger picture, but oh so very human... We even get a glimpse of separatists, for no real reasons I can see.

Otherwise we see trends in Asher's writing continue – everything is getting bigger, more powerful, more destructive – eg what used to be huge ships are now tiny specks compared to properly big ships (we've seen this repeatedly – the Jain ship here is over 100 miles long...).
This also means that the splits between the large-scale, wide-screen action and the human-interest stories playing out on the ground becomes ever bigger, and more detached. I wonder where this is heading in the longer term – Gemmel is here to point out something about Orlandine, beyond this the action on the ground is entirely irrelevant, and the nods to the glory days of Agent Cormac (separatists!) and Spatterjay (funky, aggressive fauna!) feel bolted on.

On the other hand I found the blow-by-blow reporting of space battles, again, overly long and frequently straying into the tedious (not a new trend for Asher, and not limited to him, either, there are plenty other offenders triggering the same reaction in me), even if they are woven through with story progression and character development.
But it is in these latter points where The Human scores high – the plotting is inspired, feels organic and logical, with both progressions and well-executed surprises and plot-twists I did not see coming.

So, where does this leave us, to sum up my impressions of the book? Not perfect, but in no way bad. The book is clever, absorbing, and entertaining, as is the rest of the trilogy (and most of the other Polity books, tbh). Not just for fans and  completists, but an actual recommendation for the trilogy for everyone who likes large-scale Space Opera with nasty aliens, funky technology, and big kabooms (as Calvin would put it)!

 

More Neal Asher

Title: The Human
Author: Neil Asher
Series: Rise of the Jain
Series Number: 3/3
Reviewer: Markus
Reviewer URL: http://thierstein.net
Publisher:  Pan Macmillan
Publisher URL: http://www.panmacmillan.com
Publication Date: 2020
Review Date: 210207
ISBN: 9781509862436
Price: UKP 
Pages: 403
Format: ePub
Topic: Space Opera
Topic: SF

 

Neal Asher is a British SF writer who divides his time between Essex and Crete, and who meanwhile has 21 novels (18 of which are set in his Polity universe, where The Human also belongs) and 8 collections to his name. Of course, these numbers also depends a bit on how you count, so give and take a few... let's just say that he's been prolific, and is showing no signs of slowing down.

The Polity is, in a nutshell, an AI governed (who took control of human affairs during the 'Quiet War') sphere of human (et al) of influence spanning the thickness of the galaxy, but not containing all of humanity spread across the stars,  in contact (sometimes even without too much conflict) with alien entities and their spheres of control.

The Rise of the Jain trilogy deals with, as the title states, a resurgence of the believed-dead ancient alien race called the Jain (nothing to do with the religion of the same name, a rather unfortunate naming IMHO), and the developments, struggles, and outright battles this brings. The books in the trilogy are called The Soldier, The Warship, and The Human. As this is the review for the final book in the trilogy it will, without any doubt, contain spoilers for the previous two.

To start off the book we get a Cast of Characters, and a Glossary with the main terms and concepts. This definitely serves to get a reader from the previous two books back into the groove, but will not suffice as a jumping-on point for new readers. You might well be able to pick up the trilogy without having read the umpteen previous books in the Polity universe, but I would advise  not to start with the final book in a trilogy. 
These sections do actually quite a bit more than simply define things; they provide back-story and state of the action to bring the reader back up to speed on where we are in the story. Which also means that they are rather heavy info-dumps, of course.
This also continues into the first few chapters – some of these ellipses sound like author's notes re. plotting and canon, strands and story progress vs time lines. 

Well, so where are we? The story picks up straight after the events in The Warship, and we find our main characters essentially where we left them: Orlandine is back on Jaskor, and preparing the evacuation of the populace and defence agains what's coming their way, doubtlessly. She seems to have left a lot of her 'being human' aspirations behind. The Client is desperately trying to get into the Core of the ancient Species ship which came out of the U-space blister in the accretion disc, and then trashed a lot of the fleet there, whilst Diana Windermere and Orlik – Polity and Prador forces now under joint command, are preparing to engage with the Jain warship and its associated cloud of Jain technology which followed the Species ship. And we're not hanging around – 50 pages in we're firing shots.
Trike, one of the most fascinating characters in the entire trilogy, is now Hooper plus Angel plus Orlandine's tame Jain tech, and rather unsure of who is he is, what the state of his sanity is now, or what he should be doing. Cog is equally at loose ends, and gets roped into a scheme of Orlandine's to pick up Trike (who'd rather be alone), and head out to the Client to figure out what's going on, and what she's hiding.
Gemmel is now separated from Morgaine, and shacking up with Ruth, Trike's former partner. Not terribly relevant in the larger picture, but oh so very human... We even get a glimpse of separatists, for no real reasons I can see.

Otherwise we see trends in Asher's writing continue – everything is getting bigger, more powerful, more destructive – eg what used to be huge ships are now tiny specks compared to properly big ships (we've seen this repeatedly – the Jain ship here is over 100 miles long...).
This also means that the splits between the large-scale, wide-screen action and the human-interest stories playing out on the ground becomes ever bigger, and more detached. I wonder where this is heading in the longer term – Gemmel is here to point out something about Orlandine, beyond this the action on the ground is entirely irrelevant, and the nods to the glory days of Agent Cormac (separatists!) and Spatterjay (funky, aggressive fauna!) feel bolted on.

On the other hand I found the blow-by-blow reporting of space battles, again, overly long and frequently straying into the tedious (not a new trend for Asher, and not limited to him, either, there are plenty other offenders triggering the same reaction in me), even if they are woven through with story progression and character development.
But it is in these latter points where The Human scores high – the plotting is inspired, feels organic and logical, with both progressions and well-executed surprises and plot-twists I did not see coming.

So, where does this leave us, to sum up my impressions of the book? Not perfect, but in no way bad. The book is clever, absorbing, and entertaining, as is the rest of the trilogy (and most of the other Polity books, tbh). Not just for fans and  completists, but an actual recommendation for the trilogy for everyone who likes large-scale Space Opera with nasty aliens, funky technology, and big kabooms (as Calvin would put it)!

 

More Neal Asher

Title: The Human
Author: Neil Asher
Series: Rise of the Jain
Series Number: 3/3
Reviewer: Markus
Reviewer URL: http://thierstein.net
Publisher:  Pan Macmillan
Publisher URL: http://www.panmacmillan.com
Publication Date: 2020
Review Date: 210207
ISBN: 9781509862436
Price: UKP 
Pages: 403
Format: ePub
Topic: Space Opera
Topic: SF

 

 

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