Force Cantrithor, by Michael McCloskey
Another month, another self-published novel from Michael McCloskey. He don't 'alf work 'ard guvnor. And again, he sent me a free review copy. I have been most remiss in reviewing it. He sent it to me in February, I read it at the beginning of April, and only now, a month later, am I writing my review. Bad David!
First impressions were not good. In fact I'll go further than that. They were downright bad. It wasn't at all clear who the protagonist actually was, his role was unclear, but worst of all was the damned mind-reading. Telepathy smacks too much of magic, something I'm not particularly keen on in fiction, and especially when mixed with science. It's also far too easy to take telepathy too far and end up with an unfeasibly powerful character who is somewhat flat and one-dimensional. I've got a bit weary of telepathy in a science-fictional context from reading David Weber's series of Honor Harrington novels and so I was glad after a few tens of pages to realise that McCloskey doesn't make much use of it, and later on when he does use it there has been a plausible explanation.
I was also glad that my initial confusion about who the hell the protagonist was was soon cleared up just enough to stop me throwing the book down in disgust. Well, from deleting the ebook anyway. In fact, his process of discovering who he is, what has been done to him, and what he can do is a large part of what made the book worth reading. Here we have a character who develops before our eyes, warts and all - and there are oh so many juicy warts!
As usual, McCloskey does a great job with The Other. There are two of them: Our Hero, whose mental state is truly odd, and the evil looking beasties in the cover art.
This isn't to say that the book is entirely without flaw. Some parts of the story are brought in very suddenly and don't quite fit, a sign that a bit more time may be needed on editing - I'd be willing to wait a bit longer between books for this. And I found the female psychiatric assistant Mcclaren to be quite hard to believe. But despite those, McCloskey tells a good exciting story, and mostly tells it well. When you take into account the low price I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending this book.