Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Review - Inquisitor by Mitchell Hogan

To Inquisitor Angel Xia, it was just another corporate killing on a backwater planet. But as the bodies begin to pile up and she finds herself a target, she realizes she’s stepped on one toe too many. 

Barely escaping attempts on her life by powerful agents with seemingly limitless reach and influence, Angel senses even her co-Inquisitors can’t be trusted. But as the web tightens, she receives a cryptic message from a computer program claiming to be a little girl in desperate need of her help. She insists she’s being held prisoner by a major corporation, but is this just a trap to silence Angel…permanently? 

Now a fugitive with her life inextricably linked to the girl in the program, Angel is taken to extremes she never knew she was capable of, and to forgotten places at the edges of known space that hold the darkest secrets of humanity, and the greatest threat to its future.

Now I know what you are all thinking... Mitchell Hogan, author of the award winning Sorcery Ascendant Sequence, has released a science fiction book?!? Huh? Shouldn't he be working on book three?!? Wait a minute... are you serious???

Yep... I am serious... Mitchell Hogan has released a standalone science fiction book. And damn.. it is pretty awesome!

Now before I get into the nitty gritty of why I loved this book, I want to point out something.

I don't usually read a lot of science fiction.

Please don't burn me at the stake before I explain.

I don't usually read a lot of science fiction, but that doesn't mean that I don't love the genre (I do). I just find what I would call 'hard' science fiction incredibly tedious at times. As such, I am very selective about what I read. So when Inquisitor first appeared on my radar my initial thought was one of reluctance. I, like many of Mitch's fans, wondered why he wasn't busy working on the next book in his fantasy series (for the record, he was.) And then I read an early description of this book:

Inquisitor detectives.. a world filled with meddling corporations and genetically altered mutants... and artificial intelligence that could possible reveal the deepest and darkest secrets of humanity... 

My next thought, after reading this, was: Sold! Take my money!

And damn, I am glad I made that decision.

Inquisitor is a fast paced and action packed tale that hooked its tendrils into me from the first page and steadfastly refused to let go. And wow, it is relentless.

From the opening scene, where Xia and her partner take on a Genevolve discard, through to the sprawling space battles and conflict towards the end, readers are taken on a roller coaster ride of action laced adventure and intrigue. This book punched me in my frontal lobe and continued to smash me over and over again with a story that became more absorbing the further I read.

I adored how Hogan structured this particular story. Inquisitor started as a crime novel, evolved into a spy and techno thriller, and finished as a space opera that posed philosophical questions like what does it means to be human?

And you know what... it worked magnificently.

Another thing that I really enjoyed about Inquisitor was how light it felt to read. It never once slowed down and became bogged by factual dumps or scientific explanation (one of the pitfalls of hard SF). This doesn't mean that it was shallow either. Quite the opposite in fact! Hogan has masterfully weaved an intricate tale of murder, espionage, and secrecy into this book whilst also exploring issues such as technological abuse and consciousness.

The world building in Inquisitor is also well done. It features a galaxy filled with cybernetics, space travel, interactive programs and different levels of artificial intelligence that are both fascinating and enthralling. Hogan offers enough description of this world to keep most fans of the genre happy. He does not go to great lengths to explain how something works, or why it exists (such as Xia's implants) in Inquisitor, it just does. This was enough to keep me involved and interested, and I enjoyed how he coupled this level of description with the frantic pace of the novel (not an easy feat).

The characters in Inquisitor are also brilliantly described and portrayed. One of Hogan's real strengths from his Sorcery Ascendant Sequence is his characterisation, and this is no different in Inquisitor. Angel Xia, the main protagonist, is an incredibly layered and fascinating character whose evolution provided the perfect foil to the often chaotic and childish program Charlotte-Rose. I adored how both of these characters grew over time, and how their agency changed as the story unfolded. Their relationship lies at the centre of Inquisitor, and it is handled wonderfully by Hogan amidst the often chaotic events occurring around them. I also loved the other characters in this book, from Xia's partner Victor through to Summer and the mysterious (and ominous) Genevolve's. In fact, I don't think any of the minor characters in Inquisitor were poorly depicted. All of them merely enhanced what was already an awesome story.

And the ending... powerful, evocative, and incredibly well written. I had to put my eReader down for awhile to just think after finishing this story.

All in all Inquisitor is a fast paced and explosive story filled with action and substance. It features a unique and fascinating world with powerful yet sympathetic characters that will grab a hold of you and refuse to let go. Fans of Hogan's previous work will love this book, as will most science fiction fans looking for a cracking and action packed story with body. Highly recommended and, for a few bucks on Amazon, it is an absolute steal!

You would be crazy not to buy it!

4 out of 5 stars.

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