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Deathstalker Rebellion
Simon R. Green
Roc, 509 pages

 Deathstalker Rebellion

Simon R. Green
Simon R. Green is the author of over a dozen science fiction and fantasy novels, including Blue Moon Rising, Blood and Honor, Down Among the Dead Men, Shadows Fall, the Hawk and Fisher series, and the bestselling Deathstalker series. He lives in Wiltshire, England.

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Todd Richmond

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Deathstalker Rebellion is the second book in Simon R. Green's Deathstalker saga, preceded by Deathstalker and followed by Deathstalker War. For those who missed Deathstalker, a brief synopsis: Owen Deathstalker, a historian, finds himself Outlawed and must take up the destiny that his name holds for him. He escapes the clutches of the Empire and flees to the one place where he'll be safe, Mistworld. Mistworld is a cold inhospitable rock populated by traitors, criminals, and runaway espers, which is too heavily guarded by espers to allow the Empire to destroy it. There Owen gathers those who will help him organize a rebellion against the Empress Lionstone: a broken, professional rebel, a pirate, a bounty hunter and an outlawed Hadenman. In Deathstalker, this band of rebels awakens one of Owen's ancestors from a nine hundred year stasis and with his help discover the location of the Darkvoid Device, an instrument of destruction capable of destroying a thousand star systems. They also pass through the Madness Maze on the Wolfing World, emerging with new abilities and incredible power. This sets the stage for Deathstalker Rebellion.

Rebellions cost money and the best way to raise money for a rebellion is to steal it from your enemy. The book begins with Owen and Hazel d'Ark, former pirate and thief, traveling to Golgotha, capital of the Empire. With the help of the Hadenmen and their superior technology, they plant a virus which steals billions of credits for the rebellion and then destroys the financial record-keeping system of the Empire. They also make contact with the underground on Golgotha, represented by the Stevie Blues, three pyrokinetic esper clones, and Alexander Storm, another semi-retired professional rebel. They return to the Last Standing, a powerful starship where representatives of rebels and freedom fighters from across the Empire are gathering to plan strategy. The remainder of Owen's companions from the Madness Maze are there as well: Giles Deathstalker, Owen's ancestor; Jack Random, the broken-down professional rebel; Ruby Journey, Mistworld's best bounty hunter. Four planets are deemed important and the Maze companions split up to deal with each. Only one of these stories is told in Deathstalker Rebellion, the remainder are saved for Deathstalker War.

Jack Random (the Elder), Ruby Journey and Alexander Storm are chosen to go to Technos III, the home of the Empire's new stardrive production facility. Their job is to lead the rebels on Technos III, who have been fighting for generations against the Empire, and destroy the factories before the Empress can equip her fleet with the new stardrives. As they begin their fight against Clan Wolf and the Church troops sent by the Empress, Jack and Ruby find the hidden abilities gained in the Madness Maze coming to light. Jack regains some of his youth and fire and truly begins to look the part again of professional rebel. They lead the Technos rebels to victory, helped by the cunning treachery of others who are anxious to see Clan Wolf fail at their responsibility for producing the new stardrives.

There is, of course, a great deal more to the story than this. Completely left out here are the interesting bits about the Golgotha underground and a daring rescue of a rebel esper, a particularly good part dealing with the Empress' court, and dealings with aliens by Captain John Silence and Investigator Frost. Silence and Frost are loyal to the Empress, yet you can't help but like them. Like Owen and his companions, Silence and Frost went through the Madness Maze and emerged changed. More of their background can be found in Ghostworld, part of Twilight of the Empire.

Simon R. Green's Deathstalker universe is a strange mix of high tech and swordplay, like a grand space opera. Projectile weapons are virtually absent, replaced by disruptors. Though powerful, they take several minutes to recharge. So most combat is fought hand-to-hand with swords. It makes for lots of action-packed scenes and heroic efforts. Then throw in espers, who have mental abilities ranging from telepathy and telekinesis to pyrokinesis and teleportation. And don't forget the Hadenmen, who once tried to destroy all humans and are now helping the rebellion, and the Shub AIs, intelligent machines who are still trying to destroy mankind. Then include the corrupt Imperial government and the powerful Clans who are always fighting with each other and the Empire.

Green has a particular style which most readers will immediately like or dislike. His books are filled with larger-than-life, in-your-face heroes and heroines. The stories center around men and women who have superhuman abilities, who are stronger, faster, better fighters, better thinkers, or have esper talent. The villains are big and bad and so are the heroes who deal with them. There is a lot happening in these books but it is all pretty easy to keep track of. There's a little of everything in them: fighting, treachery, intrigue, romance, and lots of good plain fun.

Copyright © 1997 by Todd Richmond

Todd is a plant molecular developmental biologist who has finally finished 23 years of formal education. He recently fled Madison, WI for the warmer but damper San Francisco Bay Area and likes bad movies, good science fiction, and role-playing games. He began reading science fiction at the age of eight, starting with Heinlein, Silverberg, and Tom Swift books, and has a great fondness for tongue-in-cheek fantasy Óla Terry Pratchett, Craig Shaw Gardner and Robert Asprin.


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