Setting up for a showdown somewhere along the line

Written by
Eric Brown in 2013

Before we begin, this book’s characters are an introduction to the wider universe. It is, just like The Devil’s Nebula, a set up for what Eric Brown has planned for the inevitable showdown between the Wierd, and the two sentient species in this part of the universe, humanity and the Vetch. As such, Satan’s Reach is a story about new characters, with only a link at the beginning and end of the story to the first book in the series.

Satan’s Reach follows the story of Den Harper, a telepath on the run from the Expansion (who isn’t in this crazy universe?), who rescues Zeela, a beautiful young woman from a gruesome death at the hands of sexually depraved aliens. Isn’t that how all great adventures and romances start?

In the meantime, two bounty hunters, a human and a Vetch are dispatched to bring Harper in alive, and to ensure his ship is also secured. The two tear across the region of Satan’s Reach in search of Den Harper, who is helping Zeela return to her home world of Kallasta.

The narrative and pacing of Satan’s Reach is definitely an improvement upon The Devil’s Nebula, since you can actually anticipate and enjoy the ending. While it’s by no means much longer than the first book, the action, characters and settings are much more satisfying. They’re not particularly more three dimensional, but at least they’re more human.

The revelations that the Vetch are not as singularly aggressive and alien as initially depicted in the series is a good thing, and their involvement in the war against the Wierd as it unfolds can only become more interesting. As a further character and universe introduction for the series, it does the job quite well. Hopefully, the third in the series proves to be even better.

Satan’s Reach is a completely different story to Devil’s Nebula, and its writing is also a dramatic improvement. I dare say that if you were somewhat disappointed by the narrative brevity of Devil’s Nebula, don’t dismiss Satan’s Reach out of hand. It’s much more satisfying.

Rating

You know how sometimes you try an ice cream flavour, and it’s not quite what you expect, but then you try salted caramel, and it’s so much better? Well, this book is like that.

Read this if you…

Were intrigued by the Wierd, liked the possibilities of the universe and are willing to give the series one more shot.

Don’t read this if you…

Need a really long book to read on a long haul flight. Save it for later.

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