Review by Murray Smith
I recently finished this story, and wanted to pen some words in praise of it and to encourage you, dear reader, to buy it; because I feel that it would be an excellent acquisition for any Blake's 7 fan. The story is a lovely example of the fact that the length of a piece of writing (thirty-seven pages in this case) is no indicator of its great quality.
The story is set in the second season, after Countdown, when Avon and Cally go undercover to a Federation planet to obtain much-needed parts for the Liberator; but, of course, things do not happen as expected. While I won't give away much of what happens, it involves a very novel, convincingly drawn, and terrifying alien species, in addition to a great deal of fighting, in which Cally has the opportunity to demonstrate her prowess as an Auron warrior. I found myself agreeing with Avon that he 'hadn't often seen Cally in battle and now he was beginning to wonder why Blake did not make greater use of her talents'.
From the beginning, the planet where the story is set, Ararat, is present as an exotic, lavish, and often dark backdrop. The opening sentences drop the reader onto the planet's surface, and make him feel its atmosphere, in both the literal and the figurative sense: 'The xeno-gardens spilled their exotic scents into the warm breeze blowing from the dark, rippling lake. The leaves, branches, stalks, plumes, fronds, tendrils and flowers, imported from a score of worlds, rustled together in whispers even softer than the lapping of the water on the shore'.
Also of interest is the fact that two main characters in the story are Federation security personnel. Both are sympathetically and interestingly drawn, making the reader quite forget that they are supposed to be the 'enemy'. One even suffers from unrequited love!
Because of all this, I strongly recommend Ms. Shepherd's story to all fellow Blake's 7 fans, but particularly to fans of Avon and Cally, especially the latter.
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Last updated on 02nd of August 2000.