The Blood Red City (Never War 2) by Justin Richards

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The Blood Red City (Never War 2) by Justin Richards

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Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: The Vril are back in the second of the Never War's alt-hist WWII books. Not for those who like a documentary or probable outcome, but if you love a ripping yarn that's more action packed than action packed is, welcome to fiction heaven.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: November 2014
Publisher: Del Ray
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0091955984

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Unbeknown to most of the world who have their eyes on the unfolding events of World War II, the alien Vril continue their invasion. There are those among the allies who know that the conflict has taken an other-worldly turn. For instance British Intelligence's Guy Pentecross continues to do what he can along with Sarah Diamond who is now SOE trained so can handle herself, thank you very much! While the Vril continue to seep into the consciousness of those they find useful, they seem to have turned their attention to some ancient archaeological artefacts. Will our heroes understand the significance before it's too late? Oh and are you afraid of cats? No? Give it a little while…

Justin Richards is another Dr Who spin off writer who, alongside the likes of Mark Morris and Guy Adams have produced ripping sci-fi/fantasy this year. This is the second in Justin's Never War Series, the first The Suicide Exhibition, turning our heads a little in anticipation of this, the mind blower. But before I rave on, a caveat…

There are two types of people in the world when it comes to sci-fi and fantasy adventure, particularly of the alternate history variety such as this. There are those who will sit through a film mumbling about the improbability of the age difference between a character and their father or will read a book wondering why, when pursued in a straight line by a rolling giant rock the pursuee doesn't just step to one side. On the other hand, others will take the entertainment at face value, being wowed by the spectacle and absorbed by the action. The Never War series is for the latter so, if like me, you are a latter, be prepared to be wowed.

To begin with, as in The Suicide Exhibition, this is about the action rather than the cast. Just like a superiorly written Saturday morning B movie, we jump from scene to scene and peril to peril, our mind being stuffed with characters like Guy and I'll-be-fine-I've-had-SOE-training Sarah. We (okay, I) may even feel that we (I'll) never get to know them all and perhaps we (I) should have read the first book first but relax! The more we read the more their personalities stick. I loved them all, although my love was a little ill-placed at times.

As WWII gets muckier, the invading Vril become more invasive and we realise that anyone could be a spy or an Ubermensch (an indestructible person manufactured from the shell of the humans they control).

Historically correct information nestles among the sci-fi as we encounter the Twenty Committee as well as real people like Himmler and HG Wells. We also learn about the consequences of archaeologist Arthur Evans' dig to seek the origin of a myth. Oh yes, mythology is deeply entrenched in the story so we come away learning much including about the most sadistic bed tester ever.

Justin not only once again pays homage to the special agent/pure goodie versus devilish baddie genre of the 1930s – 1950s, we get the feeling he's poking gentle fun at it. Hence not only I'll-be-ok-I've-had-SOE-training Sarah (I defy you not to smirk when she says that for the third time onwards!) but some more carefully placed clichés. This is an author who means us to have fun while we leap breathlessly from one clever set piece to the next and journey from one country to another. (I counted the US, a bit of Europe, the Kremlin and, of course, the Siege of Stalingrad.)

The ending lines up nicely for Book #3, giving us no clue how the horrific spideresque, death-dealing harvesters of humanity can be beaten. I'm sure there'll be a way; we just have to be patient and wait… Not too long though please Justin? By the way, if you've ever wondered what happened to the lost library of Constantinople, read this and wonder no more!

(Thank you so much Del Ray for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: It goes without saying that, if this appeals we should also read The Suicide Exhibition. However, if you have already read the first book first, we also heartily recommend more stiff upper lips in British Intelligence fighting the paranormal in The Clown Service by Guy Adams.

Buy The Blood Red City (Never War 2) by Justin Richards at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Blood Red City (Never War 2) by Justin Richards at

Buy The Blood Red City (Never War 2) by Justin Richards at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Blood Red City (Never War 2) by Justin Richards at


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