Deathstalker Legacy (2002) Simon. R. Green, Gollancz, £10.99, trd pbk, 409 pp, ISBN 0-575-07247-4
I should admit from the outset that firstly I haven't read the previous six books in the Deathstalker series and that secondly I began the book with trepidation given the 1950's retro cover of man and women in loose jumpsuits and cape, blasters in hand, taking on a blue robot. Even the text of the title is lurid and typical of that era of pulp. I suppose the cover is fair given that the story is basically a combination of Science Fantasy and what Brian Aldiss called Galactic Empires (Barbarian Hoards using Starships etc.) and the style of writing is updated pulp.
Lewis Deathstalker, a descendent of the previous hero Owen, is a Paragon under King Donald. These Paragons patrol the Imperial planets on gravity sleds and are a sort of super policeman who are allowed to judge and often execute wrongdoers, especially the evil ELF (Esper Liberation Front), the Hellfire Club and various others. All, however, is not quite kosher in this bright Golden Age of Humankind. Another Paragon, Finn Durandal, is scheming to bring about the collapse of the constitutional monarchy and place himself as King. His machinations, curiously unseen by the good guys, are widely known by all of the bad guys. The various machinations to achieve the downfall are pretty much the content of the book, but with a new menace threatening all life called the Terror thrown in for good measure.
Although this is certainly a pacey adventure with humour and blood, I'm still not too sure what to make of it. The book abounds with stereotypes and cliches, but there is quite a lot of humour, an Arthurian romance and a comically heavy splattering of blood. I must admit I found the book enjoyable and would recommend it to read on those days when you can't really be bothered thinking too much and just want some light entertainment, but be prepared to get the next in the series if you want to know the outcome.
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