Origins | Jamie Sawyer | 2016 (25 August) | Orbit | 457p | Review copy | Buy the book
Origins concludes Jamie Sawyer’s fast and furious military SF trilogy The Lazarus War and you really do need to have read Artefact and Legion first. By now you’ll care deeply for Lazarus (otherwise known as Colonel Conrad Harris) and his Legion, a team that comprises just a small number of men and women who would follow Lazarus to the end and frequently do just that. This review assumes you’ve read the previous books.
Lazarus and his Legion are Sim Ops, soldiers who fight in ‘skins’, bio-genetically enhanced bodies with strength far superior to that of their real bodies which rest in capsules, waiting for Extraction and the reintegration of mind and body. Times are desperate. Old Earth has been all but destroyed by war between the Alliance and the Directorate, a war that only ended when a far greater menace threatened mankind – the monstrous Krell. But peace between the Alliance and the Directorate is now just a memory. All out war rages across the Galaxy and not even the intensifying mass slaughters wreaked by the Krell can subdue it. And now an even more dangerous alien threat waits to be awoken. Lazarus, the Alliance’s most famous and celebrated soldier, can sense it. He can hear it. But Lazarus no longer wants to understand the alien artefact – he must destroy it once and for all, even if it means he and his Legion must die violent deaths over and over again.
As you’d expect after the first two novels in the trilogy, Origins runs from the very first page and it doesn’t stop once. The action is intense, violent, frightening, even though Sim Ops are repeatedly reborn within the tanks where their real bodies lie. The deaths might not be final but that doesn’t mean they’re not agonising and Lazarus, who has endured more deaths than any other soldier, is paying the price. But just as the action is intense, so too is the emotion. Lazarus is closer to discovering the truth about the fate of the woman he loved, a quest that has shaped the trilogy, and it drives him almost to distraction.
Lazarus is easy to care for. As with Legion, in Origins there are flashbacks to past years and events that have played such a crucial part in shaping the man Lazarus has become. Although the other characters in the team are less three-dimensional they are still very likeable and distinct, especially now that they have formed such a cohesive unit. A family, really. The pilot James is now almost a part of the Legion and the little we glimpse of his true self is heartbreaking.
The aliens here are fantastically nasty – although a fair few of the humans aren’t much better either. This is a universe in which we know very well whose side we’re on. The places we visit are well visualised, whether they’re planets, space stations or starships and, it bears repeating, the pace never, never lets up.
While Origins doesn’t quite capture the mystery or wonder of the alien artefacts that was such a feature of the earlier novels, it more than makes up for it with the tension, drama and satisfaction of watching a thoroughly entertaining and thrilling trilogy draw to a worthy close. I’m looking forward to seeing where Jamie Sawyer takes us to next.
The Lazarus War: Legion