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Set Piece

By Kate Orman

Book review by Francis Cooke

This book is different from The Left-Handed Hummingbird, but just as good.

It opens with a myth, just to prove that Orman has done her homework this time too, and then we get chucked straight into the action. The first few chapters are set on an alien spaceship, and I agree with Chris Girdler - these are some of the best in the book, and I liked the idea of the Doctor as the gingerbread man, forever escaping and tormenting his captors. Then all the regulars are separated, flung through time and space by a time rift. Ace is in Akhetaten 1366 BC, Benny in Cairo 1798 AD, and the Doctor in Paris 1871 AD. I must confess to not knowing much about these parts of history, and they aren't as immaculately researched as the historical parts of Hummer were, but they're still wonderful to read.

Kate's writing style has changed, and I prefer it; it just seems to flow better than her previous book. After the spaceship scenes, we get a lot of time with Ace before even finding out where the Doctor and Benny have got to, but this is excuseable seeing as it is her last book, and so fans of her character (like me) are left satisfied that she was used to her full potential before she left us.

Of course, as you'll probably know, this book features a character from a previous New Adventure. I'd guessed who it was going to be before I read the book. I haven't read the New Adventure in which the character first appears, but Kate yet again manages to pull her off very well. Will someone please write another book featuring Ruby Duvall!

Ace leaving was an emotional moment. I didn't get this kind of feeling from Love and War, probably because I read it about the time that All-Consuming Fire was published in NZ, and so for me she never really left the New Adventures. I wonder if we'll still see more of the girl from Perivale, be it in short paragraphs like in The Crystal Bucephalus, or guesting in a whole novel. The afterword by Sophie Aldred rounded things off nicely.

At the moment, Set Piece is battling with Legacy to become my fave NA of all time. Sleepy can be nothing but good. (11/10) - there's a score to be proud of!

This item appeared in TSV 45 (September 1995).

Index nodes: Set Piece