Published by Pyr
Author Web site: http://www.martinsketchley.co.uk/
Alexander Delgado has traveled through time to find a future still run by Structure in The Liberty Gun, the third book in the Structure series. (Previous books:The Affinity Trap and The Destiny Mask) Delgado and Ashala arrive nearly fifty years from the point in time when they left, appearing in a barn on Seriatt. What Delgado thought might be a relatively safe haven is the proverbial pressure cooker; Seriatt has been taken over by the vicious, shape-shifting Sinz and he and Ashala have just walked in on the enemy. The opening scenes are taut with pressure, setting the stage for a strong narrative pull throughout the story. The Sinz are almost like a dark/bizarro version of the Seriatt – both species have three sexes. Both show violent tendencies, though the Sinz com across in some instances as more savage.
Paralleling Ashala and Delgado’s plight is that of Colonel Viktor Saskov, a high-ranking member of the Structure organization sent to Seriatt to both end the Sinz incursion and save Myson’s son, Michael. There are quite a few parallels between Delgado and Saskov; both are cocky, confident, and think themselves invincible. While Delgado considers himself an enemy of Structure, at one time he had the same zeal and dedication to Structure as Maraz. They both also come to have the same goals – both Delgado and Maraz want to find Michael and they both want to put an end to the Sinz rule on Seriatt. Additionally, Structure’s Commander Supreme, Myson, charges Saskov with finding the powerful Seriatt Time Gate. Here another mirrored parallel can be seen as Delgado is and has used that which Saskov seeks.
Saskov is paired with a Seriatt, Distinguished Mourst Warrior Brandouen. Sketchley seems to aim, and succeeds relatively well, in diving a tone reminiscent of the television show The Odd Couple and the popular theme of the “Buddy Cops” between these two characters. Between the language barrier and the culture barrier, their scenes prove to be interesting and add some sense of light humor to the tale.
As Ashala and Delgado fall in a with a Seriatt resistance group, Delgado continues to try and return to the time when his life changed; he essentially wants to erase the events of the previous novel. Sketchley achieves an appropriate disoriented narrative structure, with focus of the narrative rotating from on Delgado and Ashala, to Saskov and his Seriatt colleague, to those times in the past when Delgado attempts to reconcile the event at which everything began to go downhill. The scenes of Delgado walking in on his past events worked particularly well to convey Delgado’s disjointed feelings.
Flavoring the whole of the novel are many themes – gender roles, sexuality roles, and adjustment to the alien. These themes balance very well with the high-octane action scenes. Throughout the novel, Sketchley continues to inject the adrenaline into the series, between breakneck chase scene and the tooth-and-nail fights.
The novel draws to a relatively predictable close, though the specifics aren’t quite as predictable, if that makes sense. It was easy enough to follow Sketchley’s path, but the last few turns were a bit surprising. While The Liberty Gun brought the novel to a satisfying conclusion, Sketchley left himself enough wiggle room should he wish to return to these characters.
© 2007 Rob H. Bedford
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