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Book Review

Book Cover

Terminator Salvation
From the Ashes


Author: Timothy Zahn
Titan Books
RRP: £6.99, US $7.99, Cdn $8.99
ISBN: 978 1 8485 6086 4
Available 27 March 2009

On Judgement Day man's misplaced hubris finally catches up with him as his technological child, Skynet, gains self awareness and launches the world’s nuclear arsenal in an effort to eradicate mankind. Years have passed since Armageddon and John Conner leads a group who are fighting back against the Terminators, but his is not the only group of survivors. Within the remnants of L.A. civilians are trying to rebuild their lives unaware of the horror which is drawing close...

Terminator Salvation: From the Ashes is the prequel book to the new Terminator film, written by Timothy Zahn. Zahn is well known for his work on the Thrawn Trilogy of Star Wars books, as well as winning the Hugo Award for his novella Cascade Point. Not having seen the movie I have no idea how many of the characters are products of Zahn's imagination. Hopefully his central character, Marine Sergeant Justo Orozco, either makes it into the film or at the very least into some further novelisation.

The bulk of the book takes place some years after the, rather one sided, war and Skynet has yet to achieve victory. This is partly due to the raids by the resistance, but also in part due to its own lack of resources. Having launched the nukes against mankind Skynet had few armaments of its own and would have taken some years to start building the stock of Hunter Killers and Terminators. When the story starts there is parity between the opposing forces.

One thing which might disappoint some readers is the relative lack of John Connor in the story, although he does appear in about half the book we learn very little about him over and above that he is a leader of men. Zahn takes little time in allowing the reader inside of his head, instead the focus is on a young Kyle and his enigmatic companion Star who have come under the protection of Orozco. The three of them live in a commune in L.A. with other civilian survivors trying to rebuild their lives. Although the majority of the residents feel that if they leave the Terminators alone they will in turn be safe, Orozco knows different.

What follows is almost one long roller coaster ride of an action novel, with aerial dogfights and ground battles which go on for page after page. Zahn choreographs the action well enough so that you never quite feel burnt out by the end of the story.

As a standalone novel the story works well. It presents a realistic view of where the opposing forces would be after a few years of war and offers a satisfactory solution to what would have happened to the survivors. It definitely works well as an introduction to the film.

In the end the book won’t change your life but it will take you on a terrific ride.


Charles Packer

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