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So Vile A Sin

By Ben Aaronovitch and Kate Orman

Book review by Paul Scoones

Six months after its intended date of publication, this much delayed anticipated novel is finally available. With no disrespect intended to Kate, I cannot help but feel disappointed that Ben Aaronovitch was either unwilling or unable to complete the novel himself. Aaronovitch's last book, The Also People, was a masterpiece that transcended the New Adventures and is worthy of recognition in the field of general science fiction literature. Inevitably, So Vile A Sin was keenly anticipated as a second masterpiece.

Kate Orman deserves commendation for the unenviable task of producing a complete novel at short notice from another author's synopsis and fragmentary sections of surviving prose. Perhaps if the book hadn't been so pivotal to the overall story of the New Adventures - in that it concludes the psi-powers series and writes out Roz - Virgin Publishing may well have abandoned the project altogether.

So Vile A Sin is an epic adventure set in the same century and environs as Original Sin. Roz returns to help her sister Leabie, head of the immensely rich and powerful Forrester clan, at a time of political unrest within the core of the Earth Empire. Meanwhile, the mysteriously shadowy Brotherhood, previously encountered in Christmas on a Rational Planet and The Death of Art, are preparing to make their move, with the Doctor as their unwitting pawn.

The story is a little too overloaded with diverse plot elements and towards the end appears a little rushed but this is entirely understandable in light of the fact that the book was originally going to have been an unusually long book at 400 pages, one hundred pages longer than the version we ended up with. The wonderfully talented and awesomely prolific Kate Orman has delivered a richly textured and deviously complicated story, which although a little hard to follow at first, evolves into a very satisfying read.

[So Vile a Sin]
original cover

This item appeared in TSV 51 (June 1997).

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