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Book Review

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The Solar War (Hardback)


Author: A.G. Riddle
Publisher: Head of Zeus
520 pages
RRP: £18.99
ISBN: 978 1 789 54491 6
Publication Date: 05 September 2019

Mankind had been pushed back into an artificial ice age and is on the brink of extinction. The war with the Grid and the Harvester is won but the price of victory has been high. The nine million survivors have barely had respite when NASA detects three large asteroids being pushed out of orbit, large enough to cause an extinction event...

The Solar War (2019. 520 pages) is the second book in The Long Winter series of novels, written by A. G. Riddle.

I have review his novels before, including Pandemic and there is a consistency of style and structure through his writing.

The narrative is told from two perspectives. James is the brilliant scientist who was instrumental in humanity surviving the first onslaught, but not without making enemies. His wife, Emma, was also an important player in the events, but now has different things to concentrate on.

For all of his intelligence James and his team underestimate the Harvester and the Grid. One of the issues the book has is that there is not enough exploration of what the Grid is or what its aims are. I am not saying that these were not covered in the first novel, but the exclusion of this information leaves the bigger threat vague and does not make for a good stand-alone novel.

When the world gathers its strength to repel the three asteroids it looks like they have once again survived the alien attack, only to discover that it was a trick and that the threat comes in the form of hundreds of smaller and therefore undetectable rocks. When they fall, millions are reduced to tens of thousands, infrastructure is destroyed and the chance of mankind surviving either another attack or the long winter seems limited.

Added to James’s woes is Chandler, a rival scientist who was removed from the original project, who holds a deep enmity towards him. He is the main Earthly antagonist. He is not really developed and remains a little too panto villain for my personal taste. There is another alien antagonist who was probably the best character in the book, but I won’t spoil that for you.

The pace of the book is quite languid and though it contains many good ideas, like his previous work I feel that it could have been edited down into a tauter story. Point in fact, Emma spends a lot of her time not advancing the plot, although she has half the chapters. Sure, we see things from her perspective, but in many cases we have already spent time with James experiencing those events. The fact is that you can read the whole novel and not need to read any of Emma’s chapters, the few bits that these chapters contribute could easily have been absorbed into James's story.

Overall, it was ok, but only ok in the way airport books are.


Charles Packer

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