|Genre||Science fiction novel|
|Publisher||Victor Gollancz Ltd|
|Publication date||17 March 2005|
|Media type||Print (hardcover) & (Paperback)|
|Pages||436 pp (Hardback),
575 pp (Paperback)
|ISBN||ISBN 0-575-07325-X (Hardcover),
ISBN 0-575-07652-6 (Paperback)
|Preceded by||Broken Angels|
This addition to the series casts light upon Kovacs' early life providing information on his post-envoy activities.
Takeshi Kovacs finds himself back on his home planet of Harlan's World. Nine-tenths water, Harlan's World is surrounded by "orbitals" that were created by "Martians". The Harlan's World orbitals are programmed to destroy any object of sufficient technological level flying above ~400 meters altitude and do so with high-energy beam weapons known as "Angelfire".
In the Kovacs universe, "Martians" are a long-dead, super-advanced, avian/winged species who disappeared from our galaxy, leaving behind inscrutable artefacts and a few pieces of operating technology. They are referred to as "Martians" by humans because our first discovery of them is on Mars. Their homeworld is unknown, lost in the millennium since they were active in any space humans have discovered. This mystery is compounded by the Martians' peculiar habit of showing all maps with the local settlement at the center of the universe, rather than relative to a fixed homeworld or system. Martian civilisation is covered in more detail in the second Kovacs novel, Broken Angels, which centres around a Martian gateway.
Kovacs is on the run after making numerous attacks against the Knights of the New Revelation, an extremist religious order. He has declared a personal vendetta against the New Revelation with the express intent of killing every member, revenge for the killing of a long lost love and her daughter for violating the strict tenets of the order.
While trying to secure passage after his most recent attack, he saves a woman named Sylvie from a group of religious zealots. In return, she allows him to take refuge with her mercenary "deCom" crew as they head out to decommission sentient military hardware that has run amok on a nearby continent. Sylvie is the "command head" of her crew, co-ordinating their missions using embedded circuitry and software. During one of these missions, Sylvie collapses, and upon recovery her personality appears to have been replaced by that of long-dead revolutionary leader Quellcrist Falconer.
The crew return to base where they discover a younger version of Kovacs has been illegally duplicated and is hunting them on behalf of the Harlans, dictators of Harlan's World. Most of Sylvie's crew is killed and Sylvie/Quellcrist is captured. Kovacs schemes to rescue Sylvie by approaching old criminal associates of his, the Little Blue Bugs.
The Little Blue Bugs mount a semi-successful attack on a Harlan fortress and rescue Sylvie/Quellcrist. Hiding from Harlan forces in a floating base, the neo-Quellists are sold out by its owner and recaptured. An assault by Kovacs and a single UN Envoy on the base ends badly when Kovacs is betrayed by the Envoy who was actually embedded with several colleagues. However, Sylvie/Quellcrist has established a connection with the AI/consciousness which operates the orbitals and calls down anglefire, eliminating their captors but sparing Kovacs and his original Envoy instructor and current revolutionary comrade-in-arms, Virginia Vidaura. Kovacs' younger self catches up with him and after a struggle, Kovacs decides not to kill his younger self but instead allow him life and the chance to make the same decisions he himself had to make. Nonetheless the younger self is killed by one of the survivors of the combat.
Kovacs, Vidaura and Sylvie/Quellcrist are left to wait and see whether they will be able to incite a planet-wide revolution with Sylvie/Quellcrist's newfound connection to the orbitals and the expansion of a long-dormant genetic virus which will turn the population against the ruling oligarchy.
- 2002, United Kingdom, Victor Gollancz Ltd, ISBN 0-575-07325-X Pub date 17 March 2005, Hardback
- 2004, United States of America, Del Rey, ISBN 0-345-47971-8 Pub date 27 September 2005, Hardback
- 2005, Poland, ISA, ISBN 83-7418-114-1 Pub date 2006, Paperback