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Book Review

Book Cover

Exodus - The Official History of the War for Cybertron


Author: Alex Irvine
Titan Books
RRP: £6.99
ISBN: 978 1 84856 858 7
Available 23 July 2010

The planet Cybertron has known peace for a millennium, but it is one based on stagnation and exploitation. Out of the gladiatorial pits, which provide the gruesome entertainment for much of the transformer population, a hero arises, Megatron, fighting the caste system and the injustice it maintains. Alone, in the Hall of Records, Orion Pax hears this call for freedom and joins the cause to free Cybertron from its shackles. But this friendship borne out of idealism is soon shattered when Pax becomes Optimus Prime and must save his planet from the ambitions of his former friend...

Transformers: Exodus is a new novel by Alex Irvine which tells the hitherto untold tale of the genesis of the rivalry between Optimus Prime and Megatron. Given his work on Ironman 2, you know that you’re in a safe pair of hands with Irvine. The problem is that he has to create much of the back-story, which has been flowing around in many a fans mind for decades, therefore the book is likely to be loved by many as well as suffer a bit of a fan boy backlash. But then the subtitle for the book is The Official History of the War for Cybertron, so they will just have to suck it up.

That argument aside, what is the book like as a novel? I’ll start with the negative and as someone who is not a fan of Transformers; it may be something which Irvine had no control over. The one thing which really spoilt the book for me was how time was measured. This used to irritate the tits off me with the original Battlestar Galactica. ‘We’ll be there in a Centon’ is a sentence which gave me no idea whether this was a measurement of time, or if the characters intended to arrive with their heads up the backside of a sheep. The same goes for Exodus, I’d just get into the story when another ridiculous made up time period would show up. I have no idea if the war lasted years or days, or if indeed all the Transformers needed sheep. If this was a restriction imposed by the original series, better known as cartoons to flog toys by, then I feel sorry for the author.

That aside, what Irvine has produced is an immersive experience; the writing is both tight and intelligent as it explores how idealism can not only lead to different endings but also tear friendships apart. The book draws on influences from medieval feudalism to roman gladiatorial contests, with more than a hint of Spartacus thrown into the mix to create a believable narrative and characters with understandable goals

It may be that, as a genre novel, there was a word count imposed, there is certainly a much bigger novel wanting to break out of the two hundred and seventy-six pages, which may explain why the book feels like its cut in two pieces. The first deals with the idealism of wanting a better life for the caste restricted Transformers and the genesis of the friendship between Pax and Megatron. When this falls apart the first few months/years of the war are dealt with in a single chapter, leaving the remainder of the book to explain why as Prime, he led his people off planet.

Still, it was a good read and one that fans will have waited a long time to hear. No doubt it will spark a great deal of debate.


Charles Packer

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