Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Review: The Third Lynx by Timothy Zahn

When last we left Frank Compton, he had successfully destroyed the Modhri and saved the universe... or so he thought. Races, chases, intrigue, murders, and a few good old switcheroos will leave the reader looking for more, and our friend Mr. Zahn delivers in a fantastically fun way.

Timothy Zahn's second entry into what I refer to as 'the Galactic Railway' series picks up almost exactly where the first book, Night Train to Rigel, left off. The first book, a charming story of an interstellar railway system run by beings known simply as 'The Spiders', used many Hitchcockian tropes to take our hero and his companions into a dangerous conflict with an alien called the Modhri. The second book is no less a life or death struggle, and contains no fewer surprises and references to Hitchcock than the first, but here the story ends in its similarity. Where in the first book, much of the story was spent on discovering who and what the villains of the piece were, now Frank is secure in his job working for the Spiders and their masters, and the Modhri is much diminished in power with its major colonies having been destroyed.

This is, by no means, the only difference to the two books. While Night Train to Rigel was heavily invested in Hitchcock references, The Third Lynx is more of an homage to Dashell Hammet's Maltese Falcon and Poe's Purloined Letter. Although the referents may be different, this in no way detracts from the story, and in fact it makes the book even stronger. The Third Lynx has a distinctly more noir feel to it, and it carries through with all of its ideas with a panache that beggars the imagination.

THAC0: 6

*Note: I am grading things based on the old system of 'To Hit Armor Class 0' or THAC0 from the old Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. The idea is that the lower the number, the lower you need to roll to score a hit. In terms of my grade, the THAC0 is the number I believe, on a scale of 1-20, that I think this will be a hit with you, the reader. 1 means that I think that pretty much everyone will love this book/movie/show and 20 means that almost nobody will like it.

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