“The Long and the Short Swords” – by Gary Ballard

Cover ImageBridge is accustomed to dealing with shady characters. But sending in a patsy, strapped with explosives, to make a deal for you is likely to grab Bridge’s attention in all the wrong ways.

The Long and the Short Swords is the fourth novel in the Bridge Chronicles. I’ve enjoyed previous novels in the series including if [tribe] =, which was the first review I posted on this site in 2011. (Review)

Again we’re in a near-future, where the government has leased the running of cities to various corporations, Chronosoft being the corporation running L.A. While the stories in the Bridge Chronicles are fairly wild, there is little doubt that the author puts forward the idea of leased governance as a plausible development. The concept is quite scary and Chronosoft represents a worst-case scenario.

In this novel, we see the gangs and violence escalating in the previous novel transformed into a commodity product, a top-rating reality TV show. There have been a few stories and movies serving as extreme examples of what reality TV could devolve into. Consider this to be another.

The story is one step too far for me in my enjoyment of the series. Previous books had a habit of pushing the envelope a bit. The introduction of the technomancers in the second novel was the first example of standing close to the edge. Mathematicians and scientists using advanced knowledge to be power-wielding magicians was initially a bit much to swallow. However, the third novel was solid and used technomancy without making everything about technomancers.

In this story, the author introduces mysticism in the form of ninja-like assassin clans with extraordinary abilities. Drop this ingredient into the mix and it all becomes a bit much. The action is still great and the initial storyline was still clever, drawing me in with a great opening. However, once the theme was revealed, it elicited a sigh rather than a gasp.

This story sees the return of several characters from previous novels. Artemis Bridge is the same slick fix-it guy and we are also entertained by returning co-stars Mu, the technomancer, Stonewall, the Los Magos gang leader and Aristotle, the philosopher bodyguard. Masa, katana-wielding gang leader of Asia Town also returns with a bigger role than in the prior stories.

Just like in the other novels, the characters elevate the story. The banter and the dynamic relationships make reading the adventures of Artemis Bridge fun.

Logan is the new kid on the block. A ninja-like assassin, he shares point-of-view responsibilities with Bridge. We get his life story and it’s reasonably interesting given that he represents an element of the novel of which I’m not that fond.

The writing is punchy like in the previous books. I can’t complain how the author gets his point across. I find his prose pleasurable to read and his style often draws a smile from me. I sometimes wonder if he is, in fact, Artemis Bridge; there’s a cheeky sarcasm to the narrative that reminds me of the anti-hero.

This is apparently the last of the Bridge Chronicles. However, it is not the end of the world that the author has created. The evil Chronosoft is likely to make another appearance as the governing corporation of L.A. in a novel or series featuring totally different characters. I’m not saddened as I think Artemis Bridge has had a good run, the third novel probably being my favourite. So long, Bridge. If I need something I’ll give you a call.

Rating: 3/5

Price at the time of review: $2.99 US

Available: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Kobo, Diesel, iTunes and more…

Author site: http://www.garyballardauthor.info/
GoodReads page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17278952-the-long-and-the-short-swords

This entry was posted in 3, Novel, Reviews, Science Fiction and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>