Fast-paced, well-written, and crammed with excellent dialogue and exciting action scenes, I love this novel and I am certainly looking forward to reading more adventures with Arlo Triplehorn in the future. A few times the technical details became a bit too complicated for me to follow easily, but I did not worry too much about that because I simply enjoyed the journey immensely. I loved the way the author envisioned space travel - I would love the opportunity to go zipping through the galaxies. Arlo has a tough job, and with two powerful, opposing factions intent on obtaining the strange artifact entrusted to his care, he certainly has his hands full with this assignment.
In this intelligently conceived story, mankind, with the assistance of alien technology has access to a broad corridor of space. Hundreds of years earlier a horrific plague decimated Earth's population. Those fortunate enough to escape the planet have thrived by spreading out and colonizing other planets. Earth is an almost forgotten wasteland populated only with a few people who, though mutated in a strange and wondrous way, survived the plague. Theirs is a sacred trust to protect a hidden, eerie contraption that may be made whole again only if the artifact is restored to it. This is high-octane entertainment that also explores the universal ideas of greed, corruption, and the sanctity of life. Of course, all is not always as it seems. If you enjoy thoughtful, energetic forays through the galaxy, this book should appeal to you, too.
Arlo Triplethorn doesn't match the holo-vid image of a contract courier. Short, scrawny, and unremarkable in every way, he suffers from recurring nightmares about his one disastrous encounter with the cobra. The bloodiest war in human history was fought with the cobra, an alien race prone to senseless aggression and unrestrained violence. Although the cost was devastating, the cobra were eventually exterminated. Or so Arlo believes.
Everything changes for Arlo when he is hired by the International Space Exploration Agency to acquire a mysterious alien artifact and deliver it to their headquarters on Sierra. The artifact is a fist-sized crystal found buried on a Fringe world. It's clearly of alien origin, and it gives Arlo a bad case of the jitters when he first gazes into its amber depths. A strange thought comes unbidden to his mind: There's something alive in there.
Things go downhill fast when Arlo discovers that a ruthless underground organization known as Isterbrandt also wants the crystal. Pursued by both Isterbrandt and corrupt ISEA officials, Arlo escapes to Earth with the crystal. There, in the ruins of a sprawling city once known as Los Angeles, Arlo learns the truth about the crystal from a small band of mutated humans who are the only remaining inhabitants of Earth. Now he knows why the two most powerful organizations in humanspace are chasing him. But the worst is yet to come, and it steps straight out of Arlo's nightmares. Not all the cobra were exterminated, after all. One of them has been living among the crumbled ruins of the city, waiting patiently for the return of the amber crystal. Now that it's back, the cobra's patience has morphed into the single-minded goal of acquiring the crystal at any cost. Only Arlo Triplethorn stands in its way.