Thursday, 28 February 2013
A Reader's Review of Blake's 7: Archangel
"The Federation is an evil, despicable organisation and Blake is right to fight it. Goes without saying really, for anyone who's seen even just the first episode of the excellent TV serial, but what it's done in Archangel may actually outdo even what they did to Blake (repeat brainwashing, torture, framing him as a paedophile...).
I won't spoil WHAT the Federation's sanctioned in Archangel, but it's all done - the experiments, the torture, the brainwashing, the slow degradation of a man's soul all to create a pilot for a new type of spaceship - one even faster than Liberator.
It's a characterful novel, showing Blake's slow descent into being a man for whom the ends justify the means someone actively fighting against the events of his past and the people who he's betrayed through inattention and being a pawn of the Federation. Blake was broken by Gan's death in the TV episode Pressure Point, and here he sets out to prevent another man dying because of his zeal. The other crew members of the Liberator are equally in character, Vila depressed by Gan's recent death desperately looking for some safety, Avon playing all angles in order to preserve his skin, Cally and Jenna loyal to Blake but even their loyalty is starting to become tarnished by the shadows of the past. In my review of the previous novel The Forgotten I lamented Vila (who was always entertaining on TV) was given nothing to do, here that isn't a problem, he's as active in the plot as Avon or Blake, even Cally and Jenna (both somewhat redundant on TV, sadly) play a role their specific skills being used in order to keep the crew safe and alive. Slithering into the story is Servelan, and we get to see what she was doing before becoming Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and if anything it makes her even more of a monster than Space Commander "the Butcher of Zercaster" Travis.
There are a few nice sequences we would never have gotten on TV - including a thrilling sequence of Liberator screaming through a planet's atmosphere a la the Battlestar Galactica during the liberation of New Caprica and another space battle, this time told from a wider perspective full of clever ship rolls and sweeping vistas rather than The Forgotten's homage to the TV series showing the battle from the perspective of the Liberator's control room.
All told, I enjoyed it - I can't wait for the next in the series which is set just after Star One, showing Liberator's sole stand defending the galaxy against the invaders from Andromeda.
4 / 5 Stars."