Oops. I started this, and was instantly slammed in the face with a bunch of unfamiliar terms, and the distinct feeling that this was, in fact, part of a series. The subhead ‘A Starbreaker Novel’ was also a hint. So, wanting to be fair, I hared off and downloaded ‘Without Bloodshed‘, the first Starbreaker book, released in 2013. And moved through it as fast as possible, while noting a lot of missing details that I thought I would find.
Then I downloaded the cover, and saw that this takes place seventeen years before Without Bloodshed. A prequel. Thus, oops.
Silent Clarion introduces the reader to the world of the future – some years after the event know as ‘Nationfall’, which is pretty much what it sounds like – the fall of nations around the world. What Graybosch does with that is a new approach – his post-nation world is not only far reduced in population, but is not controlled by various mega-corps, as the cyberpunk genre tends to be. That is an interesting change. In this world, the Phoenix Society offers some level of order, as a sort of trans-global watchers of the watchmen. With the total focus on the rights of the individual, these watchers, known as Adversaries, have nearly limitless authority within strict boundaries. One such is our protagonist, Naomi Bradleigh. Young, brash, and very good at her job, we open with a look at the divisions in the society when her boyfriend explains to her one morning that he will be marrying the woman his parents chose, but wants to keep her as a mistress. Seems at his social level, being with someone who has congenital pseudofeline morphological disorder (referred to in the rest of the book as CPMD or being CPMD+) is unacceptable. CPMD is a not-uncommon condition that results in the carrier having above-average physical and mental abilities (see a WAY more detailed breakdown from the author here). Being depressed, angry, and overworked, Naomi takes a semi-forced vacation, originally to New York, and from there, based on an overheard conversation and (spoiler), up to Clarion, NY. Strange things are indeed afoot, and here the book hits a snag.
It is, simply, too heavy-handed with the metal references. I know this is the point, I know this is meant to be a form of rock opera type novel. And believe me, I like that idea a lot. I just wish it wasn’t so…
That is why I can’t stand Gotham…just saying.
Same applies, but with the character commenting on it, to the events in town. Like some other books from CQ, this is one that has a lot of spoiler moments fairly quickly. That makes going more in depth a bit of a challenge. Let’s leave it at there is a conspiracy, another conspiracy, and a third, all like Russian nesting dolls, focused on Nationfall, Clarion, CPMD+, and going even further back. This is a great intro to the Starbreaker series, and would make Without Bloodshed make more sense if read first.
Let’s do some background. The novel is set in 2095, and does describe some of the accelerated technology that is common in science fiction – the usual suspects mostly, such as AI, neuroimplants, colonies off Earth (but still in the system), etc. What is interesting is that the tech does not extend much to weapons – AK-47s are still common, and the preferred weapons across the board are swords. Even for the police. That seems a bit anachronistic, to be sure, but it does make for a better story, fits the Adversary concept, and serves the author’s purpose well. Ever since Batman: The Animated Series premiered, I have loved the idea of advanced technology coexisting with older tech and methods, and Silent Clarion does that flawlessly.
Silent Clarion does, albeit belatedly, explain some of the things that are fairly confusing in Without Bloodshed. Such as the nature of the Phoenix Society, asuras, Nationfall, and so forth. That is welcome, especially to someone who, like me, is often more interested in the background than the story itself. That is a compliment, as a compelling (but absent) background keeps me interested, seeking to know more of how things came to be.
Overall, this is a solid book, with a lot going for it. I have had trouble divorcing it from Without Bloodshed, as I read them back-to-back. I do look forward to more in this world, and hope to see the sequels soon.
Below the fold is a hint of the musical connections found in the book. Graybosch uses song titles as chapter subheaders, and the titles relate in some way to the events in the chapter. Lots of good songs, and a nice breadth of artists. Click to check them out.
These are the songs used as chapter headers, resorted into alphabetical order in order to avoid giving too much away….
AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Alice Cooper – You Drive Me Nervous
Alice Cooper – Halo of Flies
Anthrax – I Am The Law
Baroness – Teeth of a Cogwheel
Black Sabbath – War Pigs
Blue Öyster Cult – Astronomy
Blue Öyster Cult – Out of the Darkness
Bob Marley and the Wailers – I Shot the Sheriff
Bruce Dickinson – Devil on a Hog
Bruce Dickinson – Road to Hell
Delain – Where is the Blood
Dream Theater – In the Presence of Enemies, Part 1
Dream Theater – In the Presence of Enemies, Part 2
Dream Theater – The Dark Eternal Night
Duke Ellington – Solitude
Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock
Frédéric Chopin – Etude #3 In E, Op. 10/ 3, Tristesse
Frederic Chopin – Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2
Guns ‘n Roses – Pretty Tied Up
Guns ‘n Roses – Welcome to the Jungle
Halestorm – I Get Off
Iron Maiden – The Edge of Darkness
Iron Maiden – Flash of the Blade
Iron Maiden – The Duelists
Jackyl – Locked and Loaded
Jadis – Touch
Joe Satriani – A Door Into Summer
Joe Satriani – Friends
Judas Priest – Love Bites
Judas Priest – Night Comes Down
JudasPriest – Hell Bent For Leather
Krypteria – I Can’t Breathe
Lordi – Man Skin Boot
Makeup and Vanity Set – Search the Night
Makeup and Vanity Set – I Am Become Death
Megadeth – Almost Honest
Megadeth – Architecture of Aggression
Megadeth – Skin O’ My Teeth
Megadeth – Wake Up Dead
Mercyful Fate – Desecration of Souls
Metallica – Disposable Heroes
Miles Davis – Pharaoh’s Dance
Motörhead – Dead Men Tell NoTales
Motörhead – Shoot You in the Back
Nemesea – No More
Nemesea – Caught in the Middle
Ozzy Osbourne – Zombie Stomp
Pantera – Cat Scratch Fever
Perturbator – She is Young, She is Beautiful, She is Next
Perturbator – Perturbator’s Theme
Queen – Death on Two Legs
Queensrÿche – Eyes of a Stranger
Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me
Thank You Scientist – My Famed Disappearing Act
The Animals – We Gotta Get Out of This Place
The Black Mages – Force Your Way
The Clash – I Fought The Law
The Doors – Break On Through
The Heavy – Oh No! Not You Again!
The Police – Every Breath You Take
The Rolling Stones – You Can’t Always Get What You Want
The Sisters of Mercy – A Rock and a Hard Place
The Weathergirls – It’s Raining Men
Within Temptation – And We Run (featuring Xzibit)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Queen of the Night