Solid Middle-Of-Trilogy Tale. This book is one of those that has basically one goal – tell a solid tale that picks up well from the opening book and sets up the final book to be MUST. READ. It does that job pretty solidly. It continues our various storylines from the first book, though it perhaps could have used a “Last Time, On…” bit at the beginning for some of the storylines that don’t get *as* much attention. But the two main storylines – in the Amazon and on a race through the US – are well done, the chapters nearly all end on the classic mini-cliffhangers that make you want to read the next chapter immediately (while skipping to one of the other storylines for the next chapter and thus making you wait to come back to the cliffhanger you just left). The reveals get more and more impactful, all while the overall situation continues to deteriorate in light of the events of the opening book. And yet… *so much more* is coming. Indeed, the only real weakness of the tale here is that while so much more is indeed coming and this book truly sets up the final book where those things, along with the major confrontation between our heroes and primary antagonist, will be resolved… because of the *timing* of those So Much More events, the ending here takes a much more expanded time scope than the rest of the tale before that point, which leaves one with a minor sense of pacing issues. Still, this is a problem even the great T2 trilogy by S.M. Stirling faced – and wound up working quite well. So we’ll see how this works out when AEON FURY releases next year.
A note here: This is the book that Mather had apparently mostly completed when he was tragically killed in a car accident in September 2022, and thus this is his last work. While it is always a high honor to be able to work such a book as an Advance Reviewer Copy, my thoughts on the tale itself above are *just* about the tale and how it was completed out by Dale Nelson, whom Mather’s family brought in to do just that. This book really does do quite an honor to Mather’s legacy, but my own hope is that Nelson’s name can be on the cover of AEON FURY along with Mather’s, recognizing his work both here and in that book. I do not know if FURY will be entirely Nelson (or some other author, potentially)’s work or if Mather had at least left some level of notes or perhaps even rough drafts of some of that tale, but to my own thinking the cover author there should perhaps read something like “[smaller letters]In Memory Of[/smaller letters][big letters]Matthew Mather[/big letters][smaller letters]Written By[/smaller letters][medium letters]Dale Nelson (or whoever it turns out to be)[/medium letters]”. But this is just my own thoughts there based on my own sensibilities, and won’t really actually affect that book in any way.
Overall, this book truly was a solid Book 2 of a trilogy, one that did a great job of extending the story from Book 1 and setting up an exciting conclusion in Book 3. The more complex emotions relating to this being its author’s final work only add a touch of extra “spice” to the feelings of a genuinely good book. Very much recommended.