Tuesday, June 26, 2018
The Bookwyrm's Review of Flotsam Prison Blues by M.K. Gibson
Length: 326 Pages/10 hrs, 3 mins (Audio)
Publisher: Amber Cove Publishing
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic/Cyberpunk/Urban Fantasy
Release Date: October 8, 2016/May 16, 2018
After reading the first Technomancer book, I was excited to see where the author would take the series after the momentous events of the first book, in which a cyborg named Salem and a group of companions brought down an Archdemon in the hell ruled Earth they find themselves living in. This is, of course, after God abandoned Earth, after some scientists tried to clone Jesus, and God, fed up, just left, leaving a free for all for power. This combination Cyberpunk/Post-Apoc/Urban Fantasy is where we find the book starting.
Following the downfall of the Archdemon Abraxas, Salem has been granted the title of Baron and his land is now protected as a barony. Unfortunately, on an Earth ruled by demons, that doesn't mean a whole lot. When his lands tithe's become late, assassins are cleared to try and take out Salem. Then several of his storage vaults are looted, and an assassin tries to take him and his companion, Father Grimm, out permanently. While he survives, Salem is getting more upset and goes after the source of the attempts and the robbery, which turns out to be a huge mistake, because he is connected, and Salem ends up in Flotsam Prison, where problems go to die, to await his hearing.
The second half of the book, which takes place inside the prison, is where the book takes a decided turn to the grim side of fantasy. And by grim, I mean stuff that would make Nazi prison guards retch. After the group of inmates Salem is dropped into the prison with are tortured for days with horrific acts, they are then forced to fight to the death for five spots in the prison, even though there are eight of them. Salem comes up with an interesting solution to this, although it costs him the chance for protection from any of the "clans" in the prison, when the Warden declares him a nomad, meaning no one is to help or protect him. After a chance encounter with a powerful inmate, Salem's fortunes change, and he starts to turn things around. However, the outside world is about to intrude, since if he is convicted, he loses his title and all his property and people can be sold off. Well, drastic times call for drastic actions, and Salem is nothing if not drastic. After he is offered a deal to save his people, even though it will make him a wanted man, Salem does what he does, which is cause chaos, mayhem and destruction to accomplish his goals. There is also an epilogue scene which hints at who is behind all the chaos in Salem's life, and who is aiming him toward his end goal.
To me, this book, while it has a fantastic setting in New Golgotha, is all about the characters. Characters like Salem, Father Grimm, T (Nichola Tesla' living head) and all the rest are so well written, with such visceral reactions to stress and crisis. Crisis is what its all about too, in a world ruled by hell. There is not a lot of room for cute and cuddly, and the fact these characters manage to retain any humanity at all is amazing, showing just how good the author is. The reactions to the torture scenes were just so primal, you felt as though you were there. That is some excellent writing that can put you right in the middle of a horrible scene, feeling as though you are part of the action. The dialogue is snappy, witty, with a lot of snark and cynicism. The plotting never once slows down or drags, as you are moved from one intense scene to the next. A real E-ticket ride for those old enough to understand the reference.
Jeffrey Kafer is one of my top 10 favorite narrators. He has an amazing range of character voices, and his narrative pacing is second to non. He especially shines when a character is world weary and cynical, although he can handle everything from a 60 year old lady to a giant man beast, and everything in between. He really helps bring any story he narrates to life, and with Salem, its like he has met his ultimate character. I say this as someone who owns 32 books he has narrated across a variety of genres. Fantastic work I can't help but recommend.
In all, if you are a fan of Post-apocalyptic books, cyberpunk, or urban fantasy, this series has something for you. The fast paced plot, overall mystery and action should appeal to a wide range of readers/listeners, and Jeffery Kafer's narration should seal the deal. If I gave star ratings, this one would be a ten out of ten.