The Human by Neal Asher

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This is the third and final(?) book in Asher’s Rise of the Jain series. The last surviving Jain has emerged from the U-space blister where it has been trapped for millions of years, in a ship so massive that that the swarm of relatively small attack ships docked on its hull like limpets are themselves as big as the largest human and prador warships. Arrayed against this ship are the best of the human and prador fleets, Orlandine, herself now more Jain tech than human, the Client, an ancient offshoot of the Jain and now terrified of getting involved in a battle that she is convinced will destroy her, and a couple of Spatterjay hoopers. It seems unlikely this will be enough.

This is turbo charged Asher. This book covers no more than a handful of days, but they are days so packed with action that it is hard for the reader to catch their breath. Cover to cover adrenalin pumping battle scenes interspersed by occasional interludes largely taken up with anticipating just how bad things are about to become. Asher does this stuff exceptionally well; a balance must be found between too much detail - slowing the pace - and too little detail - leaving the reader bombarded by events that make little sense. I have come across many authors that struggle to get this balance right but for me Asher is supreme at getting it spot on. Others may, of course, feel differently and, I suspect, this book is liable to divide along these lines more than most because the biggest criticism that I might level at it is that the entire book really only covers one single apocalyptic battle. He does manage to squeeze in a fair amount of character development along the way and, for a book covering such a short time span, the plot is still classic Asher with many threads woven intricately around the large cast (though I did miss the Dragon who was relegated to only a very small sidenote).

This is a satisfying conclusion to this trilogy though one major thread is very deliberately, and rather blatantly, left hanging for future expansion. My only criticism is that I would possibly have liked it to be rather more than a book about a single battle, albeit something of an Armageddon level of battle!

4/5 stars
 

Rodders

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I really enjoyed the trilogy, but it is very much as you say a trilogy set around a single, massive space battle so "The Human", while enjoyable, was something of a disappointment. I wonder where Neal can go after this?

The Client was interesting enough and Neal does write great alien characters, but she came from nowhere so I found her to be just a little too convenient. Still, I hope Asher is able to use her in future novels.

I did find myself wondering why The Weaver didn't make an appearance. He has a warship himself now...
 

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