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Silent Clarion CoverOops. 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…

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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

 

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