Empires: Infiltration by Gavin Deas

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Empires: Infiltration by Gavin Deas

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Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: What you see, is not always what you get. When aliens attack, more than one person will have an opinion about what happened. This is Corporal Noel Burman's story which acts as a companion piece to Empires: Extraction. Join him in exhilarating military science fiction that contains more than one type of alien you would not like to meet in a dark alley.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 352 Date: November 2014
Publisher: Gollancz
ISBN: 9780575129283

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When is a book, not a book? When it is an experiment of course! Empires: Infiltration is one part of a two book series that explores the same story from differing points of view. I started reading the other half, Empires: Extraction, first, but can now fill in some of the narrative gaps as I start again. This time we view an alien threat by the race known as The Pleasure, through the eyes of Corporal Noel Barnes. By book’s end, will I have an appreciation of this daring literary experiment, or will I conclude that narrative has been the same for hundreds of years for a reason?

The first thing I must say that it was brave of Gavin Smith and Stephen Deas to combine their writing to try and make a new type of reading experience. Unfortunately, as this review will attest, the experiment had some varied results. Of the two books on offer, Empires: Infiltration is the stronger, not only because I read it last, but also because it had the better characters.

I am wary of being overly critical of one title over the other, as they must be read as a whole to make sense. The events of Empires: Extraction felt slightly disjointed, but this was because much of the motives behind the action take place in Empires: Infiltration. With over 300 pages covered by the time I read the second in the series, I was far more aware of what was going on and why it was happening. The very nature of the books assure that no matter in which order you read them, the second is always going to feel like the more rounded story.

Even with this in mind, there are still elements of Empires: Infiltration that make it the superior outing. Firstly, the characters are far more rounded and relatable. Noel Burman is a soldier, but also a brother and an uncle. It is his sense of family that drives his motivation. His actions are far more believable than the coin flip that is SAS member Rees. Rees is a far more bland character whose motivations are far from clear, other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The second time reading about The Weft and The Pleasure is also helped by concentrating on the far more interesting The Pleasure. Gone are the overly analytical conversations of The Weft, replaced with two creatures that seek only pleasure and destruction. In a strange way, their love of anarchy makes The Pleasure a far more interesting and relatable foe. They act like David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth, but with more perversion and disintegration of bodies.

With the simple addition of an alien race you can understand and a hero you can root for, Empires: Infiltration feels like a far better novel than the mirror outing. The excellent military science fiction is still present as before, but this time it is grounded in a motivation a reader can understand. What would you do to save your family?

As a combination, Extraction and Infiltration are interesting, but do not really need to be separated. It would have made far more sense to combine all four elements of the story into one book; The Weft, The Pleasure, Rees and Burman. Many fantasy and science fiction novels balance several perspectives without the need of telling the story more than once. All this really does is leave massive hole in the first book you read; no matter in which order you read them. I would suggest a more conventional style with any follow up adventures for Rees and Burman. Or at least a duo of narratives that take a truly different look at events, rather than overlapping so readily.

As this is part of a dual story set, picking up Empires: Extraction will help flesh out the story. Alternative gritty science fiction can be found in the excellent Sand by Hugh Howey.

Buy Empires: Infiltration by Gavin Deas at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Empires: Infiltration by Gavin Deas at Amazon.co.uk

Buy Empires: Infiltration by Gavin Deas at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Empires: Infiltration by Gavin Deas at Amazon.com.


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