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Just saw this, and thought I'd share:
Originally it was to be titled Jersey at the Water, but they figured that was too scary for most readers. nyahnyah.gif

Six shadowrunners. Three mysterious packages. And twelve kilometers of a dangerous, dilapidated bridge across one of the wildest sprawls of the Sixth World.

It should be a simple job. Retrieve three sealed packages, then take them across the city of Lagos to their destination. All the runners’ skills will be tested—they’ll face ambushes, double-crosses, and more, and along the way they might be able to answer the question of just what’s in those packages, and why they’re so important.

The team has a lot on their side, including a street samurai who’s a legend on the streets, a hotshot rigger with a lot of enemies, a young shaman seeking justice, a decker with a dark secret, and a pair of pros from Seattle trying to keep up with everything the unfamiliar sprawl throws at them. But the deadly streets and sinister neighborhoods of Lagos contain their own unique dangers, and it’ll take every trick the runners know to complete their mission and escape the city in one piece…

There you go.
I posted a comment about the book on that other place, but forgot to do that over here, so thanks smile.gif

As the second physical Shadowrun novel (fire and frost being first) I have gotten in a very long time (had all of the older books under Fasa and most of Wizkids releases) I was glad to see they seem to be really reviving the solid books and have snapped up Dark Resonance already as well as really looking forward to the February release of some more.

Don't get me wrong, I am not a Luddite and have purchased several of the SR e-novels by Critias, Patrick and others, but there is just something about the feel of a book that is comfortable. There is supposed to be a digital release of this novel I hear so that is good for those who prefer digital.
Still, it is a nice change that the physical release came first, whereas it is reversed for the game corebooks which tend to be digital first then a lengthy wait for the hardcopy.

Anyway, this is an interesting read.

First there is the style of delivery.
For over three quarters of the book the chapters alternate between the current mission and flashbacks ranging from hours to days before the mission.
While reading the Game of Thrones series has gotten me used to flipping between multiple viewpoints with each new chapter, the overall flow of all the different threads tends to be moving parallel alongside each other through the same timeline.
Here you have things happen in one chapter and then in the next chapter roll back the clock to see a bit more about the characters or events, revealing more about them or seeing some foreshadowing for what is coming.
It can seem a bit odd, but it does attempt to flesh out the characters and atmosphere in a very short order.

And atmosphere abounds here. The novel itself could well serve as a springboard for a location book on Lagos, it really conveys the flavour of the region. Yes, Feral Cities covers Lagos, but there is a difference between reading about the place and seeing someone actually having to deal with the **** on the streets.
I was flipping through pages half expecting maps / artwork / stat blocks. Sadly none of those, but it would not have been out of place. I do miss the occasional sketch drawing in the novels, like the original FASA days. Yes it was only a handful of images, but it was a nice touch and one maybe they should bring back.

The group build is pretty standard SR style, covering all the bases. They all have their own issues and/or secrets which do tie into why they are there. Again the flashbacks try to add some background to the characters, but it can leave you scratching your head at times, though it does tie together eventually. One example has the Sammy dispatch some opposition with his guns and then the flashback chapter mentions how he is mainly a blademan and how he is most comfortable being in the zone with his blade- his moment so to speak, often looking for situations to achieve this. At first this seems like ' ok? did we need to know this?' but later on his seeking of that 'moment' does come into play.

Between the main storyline and flashbacks, there are plenty of ideas for party dynamics and character do's and don'ts so I think this may make a good reading for a person new to the game and wanting a feel for a party at work.

The story revolves around a group of runners having to make a delivery and the obstacles they face in trying to do this. It does read like a gaming session with the various elements clashing with the party, but we soon find it is not nearly as random as expected and there is at least one or more other agendas in play. The more Machiavellian GMs will appreciate how the events have been set up and why. One's past does have a way of catching up with you one way or the other.

There are some contrived bits. Like when their main boat ride gets blown, rather than try to secure a new boat they decide to hike over the much more dangerous 12 km bridge with big gaps in it (so no vehicles can cross it) because they 'didn't have time'. Later on when they basically get sucked right off the bridge via a mysterious wave back to starting point and again head back onto the bridge, I think I would have found the time to get that boar (though if there are more attack waves that may still be an issue) or better yet flying, even if it meant having to misappropriate something. Insanity afterall is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. But in this case it works as they finally make it over.

Was the wave an elemental or spell? Given how toxic/dangerous the water can be the fact they all end up on the shore pretty much intact makes me think the former, but that raises other questions as well we will not dwell too long on.

One interesting point I noticed is that the majority of the gear is unnamed, ie it's not name branded left and right. Many writers try to reinforce that it's a SR Story by citing "checked to see his Hammerli 620 light pistol was in it's holster" or spending time explaining how the Excalibur cyberdeck was the top of the line. Here it's just a machine gun or a bike for the most part and doesn't try to bog itself down with product placement for the latest issue of Street Samurai Catalog X.

I admit I am a bit torn by this. On one hand we like to see SR items being reinforced in the fluff, but sometimes when reading a book, did you really need to know the exact make of each and every piece of equipment in the party?

The ending may not leave everyone happy, but then SR is not all sunshine and rainbows and bad things can and do happen, especially when he deck has been stacked against you from the start. But again we get to see how a team handles things as they come and complete the job despite the odds, albeit in a bit of an unorthodox yet still fitting style.
The main party death I do feel was a bit anti-climatic, but then the world of SR is a brutal one and not everyone gets to die a heroic and noble death.

If I have one major complaint, it is that the novel feels a bit rushed. Yes, the actual main event actually all happens in one afternoon and I can understand that by using select flashbacks to bring up the relevant bits it kept the book much leaner and meaner. The characters and environment are engaging enough that you sort of wish there was just a bit more time to spend with them.
But then you run the risk of stretching it out in a multi-novel series that can drag in places, so I guess I can live with this alternative.

All in all I give it an 4.2 out of 5.

It's a nice light reading which should appeal to SR fans and again to players new to the game hungry for fluff.

The style of sequencing may be a little distracting to some, but it does what it's meant to do and short of going down the Game of Thrones route, it is a suitable substitute for a one off novel.
The Phaedra Wheldon novel also finally saw the light. Will read both, will try and post reviews. If I don't post any it's because I'd have nothing positive to say at all.
Has this been released as a paperback? All I can find locally is Fire & Frost.
QUOTE (Vegetaman @ Jan 7 2015, 02:03 AM) *
Has this been released as a paperback? All I can find locally is Fire & Frost.

I got my physical paperback copy at Barnes & Noble and you can order from them online as well.

If it is not on their shelf , they should be able to order in.
Okay. I admit I had my apprehensions on this one - Drops of Corruption was underwhelming, and Dark Resonance, the first new novel and explicitly endorsed, pushed and brought to it's "publishable" state by Hardy (as the author claims) is a calamity.

However, I was quite wrong. In fact, of the three first new Shadowrun novels, this strikes me as the best.

Looking back on DoC, where dullness drowned out character as well as scenery, here both worked. The Feral City of Lagos comes alive as much, if not more, as in the resepctive sourcebook, the characters are introduced well, and the presentation as an oral narration (though this seems to be implemented less in the end, sadly) generates a nice and fitting atmosphere.

The story also is coherent, has twists and turns, dares to leave some things up to reader speculation while not making weird leaps and bounds, and is nicely low-key with higher-ranking implications. The nature of the boxes the runners are transporting remains a mystery to the reader as much as to them for most of the story (though it is revealed eventually), and despite frequent jumps backwards and forwards as blanks in the narration are filled in, the story tends to move smoothly to its climax. The build-up is cinematic and has everything I'd expect from a Shadowrun story - firefights, magical monsters, weird enemies (Tamanous Rollerblade Commandos!) and shady characters, each with their own secrets. What's more, the story actually ties in with existing metaplot and characters and locations without screwing all up. The end is not a clear-cut happy end - and that's probably exactly why I like it. It even dares to leave the final revelation about the machinations behind the run a mere speculation.

The Characters themselves are nicely introduced and, for the most part, work well. I really liked to see characters from Street Legends show up (though in one case only to die, but at least memorably), every character was distinct - the mousy dwarf hacker with a terrible secret; the moral mage, the bumbling Western mercs, the combat monster street samurai (with a boxed, fold-out machine gun), the laid-back, live for the moment rigger. Few characters are exactly who they seem, and some revelations are actually surprising and do fit with the larger narration.

Hell on Water does everything Drops of Corruption failed at right. Jason Hardy's come a long way as a writer since then. Here's to progress!

Downsides are frequent jumps in narrative tempo - decide or either present or past perfect, Jason! (-0,5)- some editing errors, though less frequent than in other CGL Shadowrun products (-0.5), and a certain lack of clarity whether this is indeed supposed to be SR5 or SR4 (-0,5). My money's on SR4, around 2074 - Thelma Lauda is dead, but the hacker has no Cyberdeck. Overally, though, this is a solid Shadowrun book and made me actually want to run a game in Lagos.

Also, I will steal the Tamanous Rollerblade Commandos.

8,5/10 Recommended Read.


I admit I am a bit torn by this. On one hand we like to see SR items being reinforced in the fluff, but sometimes when reading a book, did you really need to know the exact make of each and every piece of equipment in the party?

While I generally like seeing brand names and such in SR fiction (not just of things you ind in sourcebooks, but snacks, toothpaste, TriD shows ect), the general absence of this except in a few cases does fit with the book's narrator. So there, I didn't really miss this as much as I might have had this not been framed as an oral narration.
QUOTE (hermit @ Mar 22 2015, 04:06 AM) *
My money's on SR4, around 2074 - Thelma Lauda is dead,
You should deduct another 0.5, if that is how the name is written in the book. Thema Laula. wink.gif Thema is an African name and means queen.
No, that's pretty certainly my own typo (late night posting and all). Editing wasn't as bad as in some SR5 rules books.
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