Saturday, January 7, 2012

Review: The Real Story by Stephen R. Donaldson

Angus Thermopyle is an ore pirate and ruthless murderer, praying on the weaker miners trying to eke out a living among the asteroid belts. When a an impressive ship Starmaster arrives in delta quadrant Angus realizes that it is an undercover police vessel and irrationally believes they are after him. He flees into the astroid belts without adequate supplies and eventually has to prey on a group of miners for supplies. Starmaster arrives and is about to destroy Angus before the ship inexplicably explodes. Angus takes one of the survivors Morn Hyland as his prisoner and uses illegal technology to force her to do whatever he wants. When Angus arrives back in delta quadrant with Morn in tow most of the residents are intimidated. All except for Nick Succorso another rogue pirate who wishes to take Angus down.

Donaldson uses quite an insular approach to the story with the majority told through Angus' perspective. The prose enhances this with even events like conversations with port authorities not told in traditional dialogue format but by Angus summing things up. This approach has both strengths and weaknesses. I enjoyed how the insular approach really captured the atmosphere of enclosure and at times almost claustrophobia. This is space but most of the actions takes place in a tiny spaceship after all. Donaldson also gets right into Angus head and reveals what makes him tick.

On the other hand there is a whole universe of motivations and possibilities that we don't so much as get a glance at. All three characters are very flawed individuals and at times it is hard to root for any of them, even Morn. It wouldn't have hurt to try make them slightly more sympathetic.

Overall Donaldson delivers a deeply psychological story but nowhere near as good as the Covenant books or the Mordant duology. 7/10.

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