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Shadow of the Scorpion: A Novel of the Polity (Anglais) Poche – 15 juillet 2009

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Book by Asher Neal

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 37 commentaires
15 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
superb 12 novembre 2008
Par Thomas D. Gulch - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Neal Asher is becoming something of a phenomenon. The man never fails to deliver. This novel 'shadow of the scorpion' could be taken as a prequel to his entire polity universe, the description of Ian Cormac as a child,his first foray into combat with the sparkind and ECS, his first meeting with terrorists or as asher has it 'separatists' and what formed Cormac's life and morality. We meet Cormac's mother, brother and the memory of his heroic and yet tragic father. We discover that it is indeed possible for 'golem' or androids to engage in the sports of venus when it suits them. In it we meet some friends and characters both human and AI from the polity universe brought to life in all of his wonderful 'polity' novels. This being a prequel in no way diminishes any of the fun that Asher's fan's expect and that Asher does, indeed, deliver with a CTD of pure enjoyment. Good going, and I hope Asher never tires of writing these wonderful books.
8 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Ian Cormac: The Early Years 5 avril 2010
Par Michael Lichter - Publié sur
Format: Poche
Ian Cormac is Neal Asher's James Bond, albeit a Bond colder, more calculating, and deadlier than even the new Daniel Craig version. Cormac's lack of affect and human connection is central to the plot of the first Cormac novel, GRIDLINKED, but how did he become a cold-blooded killer in the first place? Were his parents murdered before his eyes by a petty thug, like Bruce Wayne's in "Batman"? Did he experience some other sort of transformative event?

The best answer I can glean from Asher's sixth Cormac novel, SHADOW OF THE SCORPION, is that he was just born that way. The novel proceeds on two tracks, one dealing with his experiences as an eight-year-old on Earth during the Prador War, and another dealing with his first mission with Earth Central Security at age twenty-two (or so). Cormac's childhood was not idyllic--his father was away fighting in the war, his mother was emotionally fragile and possibly alcoholic, and his older brother returned from the war badly damaged and barely able to talk about the horrors he had witnessed. Cormac wasn't abused or badly neglected, however, and little that happened appeared to faze him. The only shred of psychological explanation is an oblique reference to mild autism.

The core of the novel, however, is not Cormac's childhood but the other track. As a newly minted grunt, Cormac is quickly thrust into an adventure that involves him infiltrating a terrorist network and ultimately chasing a bad guy halfway around the galaxy. By the end, he has advanced into the elite ranks of the Sparkind and is well on his way to becoming a full-fledged Polity Agent. This does little to differentiate SHADOW OF THE SCORPION from the other Cormac novels, but it's done well enough that few Asher fans will complain ... at least not loudly.

The titular scorpion is a war drone that ominously appears several times in the novel, and each time he appears to want to speak with Cormac, but is thwarted. There is clearly some connection between the drone and Cormac's father, but the nature of that connection is left hazy until the very end. Asher provides few clues, leaving the reader to wonder whether the drone might somehow *be* Cormac's father, or might know that Cormac's father is alive somewhere and playing at Darth Vader, or under the spell of an evil wizard, or something like that. The scorpion is in the title, he appears several times in the book, so he must have something really important to say, right? Unfortunately, when Cormac finally catches up with the scorpion, what the scorpion tells us, while sad, will have about as much impact on the reader as it does on Cormac, which is to say not much. And that says a lot about this novel.

SHADOW OF THE SCORPION will appeal most to those who have read most or all of the preceding Cormac novels, and it will make the most sense to readers who have completed at least GRIDLINKED and SPATTERJAY, but readers without prior exposure to Asher and his Polity universe will not be lost.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Cormac prequel: all action and filler, no deeper sense to Polity 6 décembre 2012
Par 2theD - Publié sur
Format: Poche
There aren't many authors in my library with the distinction of having been read a dozen different times through a dozen different novels. This accolade is given to such timeless authors as Poul Anderson (16), Iain Banks (17), Greg Bear (20), John Brunner (21), Larry Niven (20), Frederik Pohl (15), Alastair Reynolds (12), and James White (13)... names everyone is familiar with through experience or reputation. Each of these authors has also shown me that their talent does not lie in one direction, but they have the ability to cast about their vision into scenarios which awe the reader and impinge upon the mind the sense of childhood wonderment. There's one more author who I have read fifteen times, yet fails to exhibit the two qualities of diversity and amazement: Neal Asher. Even outside his Polity novels, Departure (2011) still maintained the essence of Asher: weapons, violence, destruction, gore, and horror. Perhaps it's time to move on or be labeled a one-trick pony... oops, too late.

Rear cover synopsis:

"Raised to adulthood during the end of the war between the human Polity and the vicious arthropoid race the Prador, Ian Cormac is haunted by childhood memories of a sinister scorpion-shaped war drone and the burden of losses he doesn't remember.

In the years following the war he signs up with Earth Central Security, and is sent out to help either restore or maintain order on worlds devastated by Prador bombardment. There he discovers that though the old enemy remains as murderous as ever, they are not anywhere near as perfidious or dangerous as some of his fellow humans, some closer to him than we would like.

Amidst the ruins by war-time genocide, he discovers in himself a cold capacity for violence, learns some horrible truths about his own past and, set upon a course of vengeance, tries to stay alive."


A recent recruit with his rough platoon, Cormac is sent to a planet with a planet-downed Prador ship which is still host to a handful of second- and third-children. His fellow soldiers are his friends and one is even his lover. Emotions blur his senses of justice and proportion when the two of them discover Carl's clandestine rendezvous with suspected Separatists. When Carl is gunned down, Cormac is enlisted to perform the cloak and dagger act and penetrate the Separatist organization.

Cormac is able to sneak the Separatists into the Prador ship but discover that the Prador have all but left. With casualties on both sides, they are still able to make off with counter-terrain devices which the Separatists wish to trade rather than use, but their scruples don't deter them from inflicting casualties upon the Earth Central Security.

Carl unsuspectingly rises from his coma and rejoins the Separatists who capture Cormac and kill his lover. Cormac being Cormac, soon gore spills upon floors, limbs fling through the wind, and veins gush treasonous rebel blood. Carl still escapes but Cormac is close on his heels as the two rush to their destinies upon the same planet Cormac's father disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

It are these circumstances surrounding the memories of his father which have caused him to reminisce about the time when his brother returned home to Earth to partially erase some painful memories from the war during his time as a medic. At the same time, Cormac remembers a sinister scorpion-shaped war drone which stalks him in Wyoming, under the sea, and even at school. Is it to deliver a massage, protect him, or one day assassinate him? When Cormac discovers that his own memory has been partially erased, he contacts his mother and is allowed to revisit the deleted memories which give answers to his past and possibly his future.


Much as Cormac is prone to violence, Asher is as prone to action-filled scenes. Aside from Cormac's memories which dot the chapters, there's very little else which doesn't include gun blasts, laser streaks, or grenade concussions. The beginning of the novel is a juicy morsel with Prador ship investigation, Prador battling, and Separatist incursions, but soon the battle rigamarole becomes redundant and the reader aches for some early development rather than a gory rush to the end with its bow-tied gift of conclusion, which wasn't bad--a tad predictable and dies in nice with the other Polity novels.

Being a prequel to Grindlinked (2001) and the other Cormac novels, this novel introduces the reader to two things: the Separatist strife against Earth Central (though still nebulous as to exactly what their intentions and influences are), and the early life of Cormac (childhood and new recruit). I expect a lot of depth from any prequel--succulent detail of the world, the deeper causes of the universe's problems (this being Asher's Polity universe), and more characterization than plot. I want to see the world behind the novels, the thread rather than the fabric. Sadly, Asher doesn't address this matter to great degree and maintain his typical guns-a-blazin' cavorting with a cavalier protagonist.

It's not entirely yawn worthy because some of the action scenes are quiet vibrant, but the sheer amount of action diminishes the scenes that are there. Remember the motto "Less is More". Two or three whir-bang sequences would highlight the destruction rather than eight bang-bang-bang battles. When the battles are Prador vs. human, Prador vs. AI, AI vs. Spatterjay or Spatterjay vs. human, these sequences are usually worthwhile enough... but the man vs. man elements are just too typical.


I'll stick to the Prador and Spatterjay novels, but hang my hat up for the Cormac and Departure (2011) novels. There something very rewarding when reading about crab-like aliens' guts being splattered and the tortures of the Spatterjay planet. Outside of these brutalities, the rest of Asher's bibliography is a tad too flat for me in retrospect. While I enjoyed the Cormac novel at first (3-4 stars for each), they didn't impinge upon my long-term memory like the Spatterjay novels. I've kept Gridlinked in my library, but the rest of the Cormac series will be finding a new home at the second-hand bookstore.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Another excellent novel from Asher 17 mai 2010
Par Mark Chitty - Publié sur
Format: Poche
Shadow of the Scorpion is another stand alone novel from Night Shade Books (the first was Prador Moon), this time focusing on the early years of Ian Cormac, the ECS agent we all know from the Gridlinked sequence. Neal has taken a character that has gone through many experiences and gone back to the beginning, to see what made IanCormac what he is. The story is told against the backdrop of the end of the Prador war, still ongoing while he was a child and the aftermath to deal with during his ECS training.

Cormac and his two squad mates are stationed on Hagren, a planet near the Graveyard of wrecked worlds from the Prador war. With a Prador dreadnought crashed on the surface they are given the job of routine sentry duty, a task that is considered both mundane and routine. That is until theseparatists try to sneak in and steal a deadly CTD, a bomb with devastating power. With surviving Prador aboard the dreadnought and the separatist threat, Cormac soon finds himself in a dangerous situation and an investigation into the separatist activities, one that leads him to discover just what he's capable of.

During this narrative we are given flashbacks to Cormac's youth, the unusual appearance of a scorpion shaped war drone and the experiences his family go through. Why this drone turns up is a question thatCormac asks himself, and will reveal a secret that has been hidden for years.

I will make no apology about being a huge fan of Neal's work, I love the way he can create believable and hugely enjoyable worlds and his story telling skills are second to none. When I found out that this book was to focus onCormac's earlier life, and that it was to be published by Night Shade Books, I got pretty excited. The excellent Prador Moon was the first collaboration between the two and my only real criticism was the fact that the story was a little on the short side. Of course, there are perfectly good reasons for this, but when I heard Shadow of the Scorpion was out from the same publisher I feared it may be the same situation. There was nothing to worry about though, this is a decent sized novel (although not quite as long as Neal's usual output) and thoroughly enjoyable.

As I've not read all the Cormac novels that Neal has written I can't compare to them, but of the ones I have read (Gridlinked, Line of Polity), this measures up nicely. There are obvious differences between a raw recruit and that of a fully fledged ECS agent, but apart from that Shadow of the Scorpion does a great job introducing a likable and motivated character in Cormac. He's got strengths and weaknesses, but it's his determination and adaptability that shines through here. In fact, all the characters that we meet are very well presented, none come across as shallow or two dimensional and each contribute effectively to the story.

As for the story itself, another winning combination of character development, aliens, action and political undertones. If you like Neal's other stuff then this is a novel you can't miss, but it's also an ideal step on point for those new to Neal's work. I thought this was one of Neal's best to date, and if this is any indication of what to expect from the next few novels, we're all in for a real treat.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Good solid Asher work 12 mars 2009
Par Sci Fi Guy - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
This is another excellent book by Neal Asher (who is fast becoming my favorite author). This book is basicly a little biography of Polity Agent Ian Cormac, starting from his childhood and going thru his younger years. It provides some good background of his development into the character we recognize in Gridlinked and Brass Man, with some interesting little sidetracks into other areas of the Polity universe.

If you like other Neal Asher works this should definitely be a good purchase, used to fill in your knowledge of his Polity
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