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An ancient relic may rescue humanity -- or doom it to eternal slavery....
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The warriors, who dare to expose the deadly truth of mankind's destiny, discover a new gateway in Central America -- one that could lead them deeper into the conspiracy that doomed Earth. Here they encounter a most unusual baron struggling to control the vast oil resources of the region. Uncertain if this charismatic leader is friend or foe, Kane is lured into a search for an ancient relic of mythic proportions that may promise a better future... or plunge humanity back into the dark ages.
In the Outlands, the shocking truth is humanity's last hope.
The treacherous new frontier of future America is plagued by civil war among the nine mysterious barons who rule with absolute power. As this race of human hybrids struggles to keep the eons-old yoke of true humanity's slavery in check, a force of remarkable warriors dares to expose the deadly truth of mankind's destiny and the forces from without conspiring to steal earth's promise for themselves.
A former enforcer of the baronial police, Kane, with fellow renegade Grant and archivist Brigid Baptiste, discover a new gateway in Central America -- one that could lead them deeper into the conspiracy that has doomed earth. Traversing a new Caribbean sea ruled by mutant creatures and ruthless pirates, they encounter a most unusual baron struggling to control the vast oil resources of the region. Uncertain if this charismatic leader is friend or foe, Kane is lured into a search for an ancient relic of mythic proportions that may promise a better future...or plunge humanity back into the dark ages.
Coming off of Tomb of Time, this book lost several points right off the bat for a complete break in continuity. The last book left the lead characters on Thunder Isle with an imminant threat against New Edo and Grant reunited with Shizuka. Prodigal Chalice completely ignores this, beginning pretty much like any generic Deathlands novel. I almost put the book down right there.
As it turns out, it was actually a damn good story. If it was a Deathlands novel I would have given it an 8 or a 9. It wasn't, though; Brigid is not Krysty and Domi is not Jak. I understand the publishers have a schedule to meet and Mark can only write so many pages in a year, but frankly I would rather have two or three books per year written by Mark with solid continuity than have a new episodic book every three months.
A good show
by The Phantom
This is Mel Odom's last entry in the series, an improved story over Sargasso Plunder, but not as good as Night Eternal.
I enjoyed this novel, however there were parts of the book where it was inconsistant as far as capturing my interest. I really liked the overall storyline concerning the chalice, and the machine it was part of. I also liked Balam's interaction with Kane in bringing him dreams or memories of past lives. These have occured in other novels, and this book offers more scenes from Kane's previous incarnations. I liked the Egypt vignette, as well as other ones, and I thought these were some of the high points of the novel. Also, I thought the ending was excellent, very thrilling and explosive, and I liked the conclusion thoughts Kane and Brigid had concerning the power of the "manna machine".
The areas where the book wasn't as interesting was the slave trader part of the storyline, and with that some of the confusing setups going on with the various factions and the Samariumville mags and pirates and Fiddler and Lindstrohm and whatnot.
The relationship between the main villain Lindstrohm and his pirate girlfriend Vasquez was weird and I wasn't sure what importance her role really was in the story. They were almost like something out of Buffy or something.
Overall I think this is a good effort from Odom, with plenty of action and interesting stuff that fits in well with this series, the characterizations were good, and for a fill-in author's contribution to the series, it it worth including among Mark Ellis's excellent line of OL books.
Looking over the cat_reviews it seems that the author that wrote this always loses a point because he's not the regular author. Unfair, but that's human nature.I give this book a 5 because this was so much better than Sargasso Plunder or Wreath of Fire. The author has really made quite an improvement. I enjoyed the Aztec and Egyptian mythology that was placed in (because it coincides with my own studies.) It was interesting to have Balam in the series even if he was just in dreams and visions.Getting a little into the series, it was wrote that Samarium was recruiting slaves to take into Tartarus. As I always remembered, every non-city citizen wanted to get INTO Tartarus because it was viewed as a step above being an outlander. However, I mentioned this because I know the author writing this was not the regular author, the reader can view the Tartarus/slave thing as a mistake on the author's part, or take it as an example of how bad the cities have become since the Imperator War, I imagine ville resources must be at an all time low. So the fact that Samarium needs to bring in slaves into his own ville, shows that the prestige is crumbling. I chose the latter.5 Points-
(1) For story, (2) for the mythology, (3) because he made an attempt, (4) for the drastic improvment of quality and style as compared to the last two books this author wrote, and (5), the top of the heap- No mention at all of the Heimdall Foundation! The HF was first introduced in the DL: Mars Arena, and it was interesting, but over the course of several books it kept getting reintroduced and unexplored to the point of being annoying. Whether it was the author or the editors that left the Heimdall Foundation out, they made a good move. Keep up the good work.
All in all...really not bad at all!
by Doc Omega
When you read any continuing series of books for a while, a reader can become very familiar with the style of the author and his take, if you will, on a set of characters. This is especially true when the author is the creator and driving force behind the series as Mark Ellis is with Outlanders. After a while reading an entry in said series can be like a visit with an old friend...a very comfortable feel. But when another author steps in to fill a spot on the schedule, the results can range from jarring to seamless, depending on either the skill of the author or his actual interest in the series.
When I was a kid I breathed in Doc Savage Paperbacks. Inhaled 'em. But I had no clue that anyone other than the cover mentioned "Kenneth Robeson" wrote 'em...it wasn't until a few years into the series that I uncovered, so to speak, the truth about how Lester Dent wrote the majority of them, with numerous ghost writers filling in throughout the run...but I'll always remember the feeling that something just wasn't right when I read my first non-Dent supersaga...it just didn't fit...sure, these were the same characters I had grown to know, but they didn't quite have the right "feel"...it wasn't until I found the list of "who wrote which" that it all made perfect sense.
Geez...any speaking of which...can any long time Mack Bolan fan like myself forget the disorienting feel of Sicilian Slaughter when you read the first non-Pendleton entry in the series? Jim Peterson...huh? This is obvious commonplace now...where some authors obviously "get it" (i.e. Doug W, Chuck Rogers, Mike Linaker, Tim Tressler and of course, Mark Ellis) and others don't (David Robbins, Andy Boot, to name a couple)...but back then it was a case of "WTF?!?!?" Obviously to members of this website, many of the authors of Deathlands just don't "get it" either...
Mel Odom "gets" Outlanders!
You can tell there is a different style to this book than the usual incredible Ellis entry, but it is not jarringly so and this book makes for a fine entry in this outstanding series. There is nothing to challenge or contradict the mythos Mark has set before and there is plenty of new ideas to keep the long time reader interested. Highlights for me included little things, minutae really, like different weapons and wardrobes for the Cerebus crew...Kane with an M-14? I can dig that. Nice change of pace from the issue Sin-eater...minor, you bet, but interesting none the less. The villians and plot devices were great. The chalice with it's mysterious background shrouded in the mists of history. Lindstrohm and Narita The Bleeder made for a great team of baddies...and somehow I hope to see more of them in the future...Fiddler, The Tongs...pure pulp action goodness.
I really enjoyed this one, even without any expectations to do so! Good stuff and nice work from Mel Odom! Enjoy!
Better, but still not up to standard
Having just finished reading Prodical Chalice, I felt I had best do my review while the book is still fresh in my mind.
Overall, it wasn't a bad novel, but there were quite a few things that really got on my nerves.
Unlike the author's previous attempt at an Outlanders Novel, this one read more like it should, instead of a rehashed Deathlands plot.
Now, to the problems with the book. It's been said time and again that Domi is NOT Jak Lauren in drag. She doesn't carry a .357 revolver, and the only time she speaks like Jak are in times of great distress or tension. Also, she doesn't carry knives hidden all around her person, and, even though she is somewhat feral, she doesn't take great pleasure in killing people. Those who deserve it, yes, but she's not a blood thirsty little psycho.
The editor is MORE To blame than the author for this getting past. The author, I can almost understand. He doesn't know the series. However, the Editor DOES (or at least, is supposed to know) about the characters and it's the editor's job to make sure that mistakes like this are caught and fixed.
Next, there was the deal with Slavers in Outlanders. It doesn't fit. That is Deathlands, not Outlanders. The barons have no need to deal with slavers, nor would they when people are willing to DIE to get into the Tartarus pits in the baronies. The Hybrid Baron's do not need slaves with the literal thousands who want the life that the villes could provide to them.
If the author wanted to use that, he should have made the slavers going after people so that their organs could be harvested for the Hybrids use. That would have made far more sense with the canon that the series creator has established.
As earlier, this can be blamed more on the editor than the author. The editor should have caught and changed that.
Lastly, if the author could bottle and market the testoserone that he had prevalent in the book, he wouldn't have to write for a living! The characters were exceptionally hostile, moreso than usual, but at least not towards one another like in the author's last offering.
For all the bad, there are good things. I found that Lindstrom was quite an interesting character, and it's a shame that he was killed at the end of the book.
Secondly, the past life sequences were well written, if a bit confusing. Being interested in Egypt, I found those sequences particularly enjoying, as well as how the author tied Enlil into the history of that culture.
Third, the history aspect is exactly what, as an Outlanders reader would expect it to be. Well written, and documented. I really liked how we have link between Ancient Egypt, The Nazi's and King Arthur, and the Roman's in the novel.
High praise for the author in that aspect.
This book was far better than his last offering, despite my complaints, and if he can get the characters and the background correct, the books he writes for the series will worthy of the Outlanders title.
Prodigal Writing son returns!
by One Eye Chills
Mel Odom makes a comeback here, but this seems to belong to a book all unto itself practically.
As an Outlander novel, it came off not as well as I'd hoped. Especially after reading Tomb of Time. Man, you better come up with better than this after that kind of story.
But as it was, it was still a fun and pretty exciting read. I like Mel. And I hope he comes back to his better written stuff - Deathlands.