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Book Review

Book Cover

Deus Ex
Icarus Effect


Author: James Swallow
Titan Books
RRP: £6.99, US $15.00
ISBN: 978 0 85768 160 7
Available 22 February 2011

Not so far into the future, cybernetic implants have become a reality; bring the promise of augmented humans, at a price. But it is a price some are not willing to pay. Behind the scenes a shadowy organisation sees this development as a threat to their control over the mass of humanity. Caught up in this hidden conflict, Secret Service agent Anna Kelso is not only removed from her post, for investigating the death of her friend and mentor, but she quickly discovers that her own life is at risk as she uncovers secrets long hidden. Across the other side of the world Ben Saxon, a gun for hire is searching for the people who are responsible for the death of his men, is inducted into an elite force, only Ben is increasingly uncomfortable about both the jobs and the people giving him orders...

Deus Ex: Icarus Effect is a new tie-in novel by James Swallow, the very scribe who wrote the game's narrative.

Anyone who has been following this series of console games will realise that the last instalment has brought the game's story back to its beginnings. Icarus is not an adaptation of the game, but rather is a standalone book which, considering who wrote it, can be considered canon.

As the preamble suggests the story is split into two part. As Saxon and Kelso draw towards the truth, they are likewise drawn together. We are, likewise, drawn into the global conspiracy from both of their points of view.

As a thriller, Icarus Effect works well, the pace is fast, but not at the expense of either drawing out the characters of the two main protagonists or the provision of a well-rounded supporting cast. Both Kelso and Saxon are well realised, and although we don’t get a lot of background material on either of them, their motivations and basic character draw the reader to them.

Given, that the book is effectively a prequel, there are some limitations as to how far Swallow can go and the shadowy presence which threatens Saxon and Kelso is a fixed point, which is a shame as it was an old and worn out idea in the first place.

The ending, when it comes, felt a little rushed and incomplete, but then this is to be expected as it represents just a single strand of the new Deus Ex onslaught.

So, it’s a pretty good cyber punk novel which will certainly delight fans of the game and entertain a wider audience, though I think many not already steeped in the Deus Ex world will find the main villain organisation a little old school.


Charles Packer

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