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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book Review: Hammer of Angels: A Novel of Shadowstorm by G. T. Almasi

This story is high octane action and impressive sci-fi alternate history.
Hammer of Angels: A Novel of Shadowstorm
by G. T. Almasi

  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (November 25, 2014)
  • Sold by: Random House Digital, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009JU6UQU
Genre: Action, Alternate History, Sci Fi
My Rating: 4.25 of 5.0

Book Description
Publication Date: November 25, 2014
In G. T. Almasi’s thrilling alternate reality, the United States, the USSR, and the Republic of China share a fragile balance of power with Greater Germany, which emerged from World War II in control of Europe and half of the Middle East. To avoid nuclear Armageddon, the four superpowers pursue their ambitions with elite spies known as Levels, who are modified with mechanical and chemical enhancements.

Nineteen-year-old Alix Nico, code-named Scarlet, is a kick-ass superheroine with killer Mods and an attitude to match. She’s considered one of America’s top Levels, even though her last mission nearly precipitated World War III. So now Scarlet and her new partner, Darwin, have been sent to Greater Germany to help sow the seeds of anarchy and prevent Germany’s defection to Russia and China.

But where Scarlet goes, chaos follows—and when her mission takes an unexpected turn, she and Darwin must go ever deeper into enemy territory. As Scarlet grapples with a troubling attraction to her new partner, explosive information comes to light about the German cloning program and one of its prisoners—a legendary American Level who just happens to be Scarlet’s father.

“First-rate . . . a hell-bent-for-leather mash-up of spy novel and SF.”—Eric Van Lustbader, on Blades of Winter.

Alix aka Scarlet is a nineteen year old, bionic, medically-enhanced, kick-butt spy-agent. She has recovered from her last assignment (Blades of Winter) where she lost her partner and lover, Trick.  Now a new partner arrives shocking her until she learns he is Trick's 'brother', one of a triplet of clones. Brando, aka Darwin, has been programmed with most of Trick’s memories so that he can help Scarlet on their new assignment.

Scarlet wants to hunt down a man she believes is a traitor. But Fredericks is high up in the program and the government doesn’t want him disturbed. The assignment she and Darwin are given is to incite a slave revolt by the Jewish slave community in Greater Germany.  Although there is a fine line for US involvement, this action is designed to help keep Germany from seeking alliances with Russia and China.

Stirring up trouble comes rather easily to Scarlet. Several other agents, including Raj from the first book and Grey, a new “invisible” agent, come along to help keep Scarlet safe from the government and Purity League forces. There are new friends too, including a resistance leader, underground collaborators and a surprise sniper, Falcon, who could be Scarlet’s father when he was young! This gets Scarlet and her team side tracked on a renewed hunt for her father, code name Big Bertha, who has apparently been captured and used in a major German cloning program. Scarlet races at full steam but she stumbles as her upgrades and med doses begin to impact her system.

The layout in the first book continues in this one with informative journal entry sections interspersed with the action.  I love all of the intense battle action with unique ammo for different purposes and enemies.  This book tends to have carnage scenes that are a bit more graphic than the first book.  There is mystery and the tension of betrayal with the continued suspicion of a mole in the agency. There is a light tease of new romance and humor that includes a prayer with a touch of irreverence. I really enjoy the alternative history, with ‘Floating Railroads’ and circumstances that mirror images of real life.

Unfortunately I was distracted during the story by the liberal, unnecessary, use of the “f” word.  (A search shows the word 32 times so that would be about every tenth page in 336 pages.) I think this is an early ARC version of the title and maybe it will be toned down before release in November 2014. As much as I enjoy Scarlet and this wonderful sci-fi world of action I am truly conflicted as to whether I would read the next in the series. However, if you love high action sci-fi, I do recommend picking up the first book and, if you can read past and around the unpleasant word, put this highly entertaining sequel on pre-order or your wish list for when it releases.
Brando/Darwin explains part of their orders to Scarlet:
“You shall create a chaotic and confused situation wherever possible.”
Story of my life.             Location 1123.
I received this title from Del Rey/Random House Digital through NetGalley.

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