Nurtured in the secret laboratories of nineteenth-century London where they were designed as Queen Victoria's ultimate supersoldiers, five immortals break free from their most recent subterranean prison in the Gray Area. Impervious to attack, stronger and faster than ordinary humans, these surreally beautiful, self-serving five are the ultimate killing machines. And they're ready to make up for centuries of boredom, warping everyone they meet in their perverted quest to rule the world. Only Kane and his team dare to stand against their wicked art- if they can.
Kane and his Cerberus rebels have defied the odds and repelled an alien infiltration by minds of far greater complexity than those of man. But with Earth undefended and ripe for the plucking, a new threat emerges...one that has been created by man himself.
Hoskin's latest Outlanders begins with Brigid captured and stuck into a dream machine and Kane inserting himself to save her.
Now, this in itself was a cool opener, with Brigid dreaming of driving a sports car like a maniac while being pursued. Good and exciting stuff this. Kane's end of things introduces a new kind of drug, being created by sweating muties. Kinda weird, but OK, I went with it.
But by the end of the first 1/3 of the book, the reader never finds out just how smart and tough Brigid Baptiste even managed to get captured by a mere handful of half-assed thugs. With the leader in drag, no less! And Kane manages to get captured too. They can take on immortal gods and all kinds of mutie creatures, but can get captured and nearly killed by a mere 4 or 5 low-life thugs?
The overall premise of the story has been done over and over, but not quite like this. Hoskins does give a new rendition of yet another tale of heroes battling bad super soldiers. The 1800s British background, along with their unique and seemingly ever-growing abilities was pretty fresh and cool, not your standard. OK, I went along with it.
But it was the first encounter with the Cerberus group, Grant and Shizuka, that I didn't buy. It felt rushed and the battle was not as intense and well written as it should have been. These psychopath and murderous immortals are going around killing lots of people, but when they encounter their first and most deadly human adversaries, they leave them alive? I don't think so. The writer needed to pen in a better fight scene bewixt Shizuka and her immortal, because she has been pained for years now as being a superb swordswoman. But she gets taken down here way too easily. Superman or not, Shizuka is supposed to be better than this. And Hoskin needed to think of a more clever reason for why these mad immortals didn't make sure these two were dead, or had to leave in a rush.
Rik Hoskin is a good writer with a solid imagination. But he needs a great editor. One that calls bullshit and points out details that need either rewritten or revised a bit. Like important scenes where Grant doesn't seem to tell his comrades on just how fast and strong these 5 new enemies are. And that simple guns like a sin eater don't do shit. It took another encounter with the main Cerberus group against a much more smarter and deadly foe to learn this. And really, they all would have been killed. Again and again I see the same these in this series: The Cerberus group placing themselves into dangerous situations needlessly, without utilizing their vast arsenal of weapons.
There was the main last big battle scene that was pretty cool, but was written like Kane and Grant were the ones enhanced with super strength, instead of the four they were fighting. Especially Grant. I had to shake my head in disbelief when Grant threw Shizuka's sword upwards through the air while dangling from a flying dirigible, and had the strength, (which was written to be waning), but managed to not only hit his intended target, an immortal with a big burn blaster who couldn't hit shit, but manages to get a samurai sword flying UPWARDS through the air, impale all the way through his chest - and impale him off his feet in the roof of the flying machine. REALLY!? When did Grant learn to do this superhuman feat?
And then they of course crashland the giant balloon in redwoods and don't get killed, no bones broken, nada! Huh? Now they are indestructible?
I know it sounds like I hated the book, but I didn't. It was a fast read, chock-full of good ideas and some good action sequences, even though I think the writer must be on too much of a deadline, or just does not have a solid editor. Both, I think.
The Devil is in the details, Mr. Writers of Outlanders.
The most impressive quality of this latest instalment of the Outlanders saga is its wide range. Starting off in a secret laboratory in Victorian England, we then race to grave robbers in the post-apocalyptic future before the story then kicks in a Matrix-style adventure inside and outside a virtual world. All that is before the main plot, a battle between our heroes and four super powered steampunk warriors. It's an imaginative, exhilarating ride that also swings between scenes of eccentric humour and shockingly brutal horror. Happily Rik Hoskin is more than experienced and skilful enough to blend these extremes into one effective pulp adventure.
Chief villains the Dorians are excellent new enemies. Two beautiful couples who talk like characters from an Oscar Wilde play, highly-educated, have super strength and agility, and wholly sociopathic. They have a splendid collection of steampunk weaponry too as well as that deriguer piece of Jules Verne SF furniture – the well-armed airship, which I appreciated. What I also found impressive is that having set up such formidable opponents, at the action-packed climax the author equips Kane and his friends with a believable method of defeating them that feels satisfying but I did not predict it.
The three series regulars are all written particularly well. Kane and Brigid banter more than normal whilst Grant's relationship with the Japanese warrior Shizuka reveals a softer side to him than we normally see. This is my favourite Outlanders novel yet and a great choice if you haven't tried one of this series.
It appears as if Rik Hoskin is borrowing a number of tropes and ideas from other fictional sources. The last book used the Stargate transporter. The opening of this book uses the dream device from the movie Inception. That's how I interpreted Brigid's dream adventure.
I'm not too sure why our intrepid heroes seem to be getting sucked into battles and adventures on the West Coast so often. Aren't they located in Montana? That's located in the north-central U.S. But I guess if that's where the action happens and where the bad guys seem to flock, then that's where our trio must go. (I guess since the Japanese were a threat from the West in the Second World War, that theme of invasion from that direction continues).
The main bad guys are supposed to be super humans. If so, then why didn't they just kill our heroes from the outset or at some point in the book? They could have easily done away with Grant and Shizuka at the beginning. Like stepping on a bug. I can at least understand being halted by Brigid and her time with Uli the Rock Man. She had an actual different mind during her time with him.
The ending felt very contrived. After not being able to injure the bad guys for almost the entire length of the book, all of a sudden our trio can get a few lucky punches, kicks and shots in and the bad guys are down? Aren't they super human and super strong? I will admit, once we found out the bad guys could be cut by a knife blade, Shizuka's samurai sword did become a little deus ex in my opinion. Although, it was both funny and somewhat unbelievable that Grant could throw a sword so hard it went right through the bad guy and got him stuck in the ceiling like a butterfly.
Overall, it was an OK book.