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Book Review: Lucifer: Revelation by Paul Darrow


Blakes 7 – Lucifer: Revelation by Paul Darrow

Review by Jackie Emery


Many years have passed since the deaths of his companions on Gauda Prime, but Avon is still very much on the minds – and a thorn in the sides – of those in power. But those who underestimate Avon do so at their own peril...

It was the submarine in the first chapter that hooked me. I couldn't help smiling at the description of the periscope rising from beneath an ice-covered sea, while a beautiful woman sits by a table on the shore, watching and drinking champagne. 'It's like something out of James Bond!' I thought, and indeed this scene sets the tone for the rest of the book.

After a flashback prologue, in which the rise of the Empire of Cathay is explained and new characters are introduced, the second book in Paul Darrow's Post-Gauda Prime trilogy picks up where the previous one ended.

The various ruling factions within the Quartet and Cathay, as well as Warlords and Alien Greys, are vying with each other for supremacy, and all of them are chasing Avon and Orac who are on the run in a stolen spaceship. Like the champagne quaffed by various characters throughout the book, the story fizzes along in an action-packed whirl of plots, counterplots, assignations and assassinations, as Avon tries to stay one step ahead of those who wish him harm. He is hunted by assassins, seduced by beautiful women and wooed by political leaders, but manages, as he puts it, to 'Do unto others before they do unto him'.

The list of Dramatis Personae at the front of the book came in handy. With all the political machinations, alliances and betrayals going on, it was helpful to have an aide memoir as to which faction each person belonged. A map would have been useful, too. It was sometimes difficult to make out where action was taking place, as I couldn't tell where invented areas such as the Beyond, the Edge of the Beyond and the Back of Beyond were in relation to the real life locations of Earth, Mars and the Moon.

Paul Darrow's writing style is very readable, with vivid descriptions and lively dialogue. In his interview with Horizon Paul was asked whether he put classical quotes into Lucifer to please the fans. He replied, "Well, it pleases me! I have a little chuckle if I come up with a line." There are plenty more of these chuckles in Lucifer: Revelation, and it's fun to play 'spot the quote'. As well as lines from Shakespeare, the Bible, Oscar Wilde and Conan Doyle, there are even one or two from B7!

However, in terms of Blake's 7 continuity... frankly, there is very little. As the narrative moves ever further from the events on Gauda Prime, so do the established B7 characters and their millieu. Of course one wants Avon to survive, but he is gradually becoming less and less like the Avon we knew in the TV series. There he was a computer expert and technical genius, who makes a detector shield for the Liberator and loses no time in equipping the inferior Scorpio with teleport and stardrive. In Lucifer: Revelation, it's Orac who develops 'stealth mode' for their ship, while Avon's preferred method of disabling computers is to blow them up with nitroglycerine. In the TV series, Avon kills for pragmatic reasons and occasionally for revenge. However, here he also does away with those who no longer pose a threat (such as an unconscious guard). These killings are described in graphic detail and can make for uncomfortable reading.

Despite Avon's insistence that Orac is a machine (and Paul meticulously ensures that the Big Finish scripts have him referring to Orac as 'it' and not 'he'), in this book Orac has been given strangely human characteristics. The Avon/Orac dialogue is entertaining, as they form a kind of Odd Couple double act, but Orac sighs, snorts, chuckles and grunts; behaviour which seems at odds with the character and the speech patterns of computers.

Paul Darrow has a great interest in military history, and as with the first book in this series, this comes to the fore in Lucifer: Revelation, as the technology, weaponry and war-craft are all rooted in earlier wars. Spaceships are equipped with hellfire rockets and rear mounted machine guns, and the space battles are more Biggles than B7. However, this is consistent with the style Paul set up in the first Lucifer novel, and for it to have changed in the second instalment of this series would have seemed more jarring than continuing in the same vein.

Physically, this book is a lovely hardback, with good quality paper and binding and nice cover art by Anthony Lamb. I'm pleased to report that I did not spot any obvious typos. It may be old fashioned, but there is something wonderful about handling a real book; a feeling that electronic versions just cannot convey.

In summary, despite the cover bearing the logo Terry Nation's Blakes 7, this novel is neither. It is not Terry's reported ideas for continuing Avon's story, and owes little to the series of which it is a sequel. The question is, does it matter? That depends on what you, Dear Reader, are looking for. If you're expecting a Blake's 7 adventure that is true to canon and continuity, you may be disappointed. However, I was able to enjoy the book for what it was – a James Bond style action adventure, complete with beautiful women, elegant surroundings and over-the-top villains. It's an easy read, one to be enjoyed on a summer evening, with a glass of sparkling drink to hand.

***


Lucifer: Revelation is available to order from Big Finish Here.
The first book in the series, Lucifer, is available as hardback and eBook Here and as an audiobook read by Paul Darrow Here.
The other novels in Big Finish's range, The Forgotten by Mark Wright & Cavan Scott, Archangel by Scott Harrison, Anthology by GF Taylor, RA Henderson & MG Harris, and the novelisation of Warship by Peter Anghelides are available here: B7 Books.

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