James Goss - Shastrix Books

James Goss

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Race of Scorpions

Race of Scorpions

James Goss

30th January 2013

James Goes crafts an e-novella about a historical assassin, hired by an elderly noble, but who ends up instead serving as detective as her client dies.

I read this in a piecemeal fashion over a period of two months, which means I haven't really absorbed it as well as if I had read it in a quick few sittings, but still I found it entertained me in the few moments I could give it.

The mystery works well, and the range of characters are interesting and could clearly have been taken further. The writing is serious but with a good quantity of humour sprinkled in that makes this a beautiful quick read.

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First Born

First Born

James Goss

30th July 2011

This novel, the first of three set between series three and four of the Torchwood television programme, is probably the best Torchwood novel I've read. Following the events of 'Children of Earth', Gwen Cooper and husband Rhys Williams, and their baby daughter Anwen, are on the run from mysterious forces. They find themselves staying in a caravan park near a little village on the Welsh coast, but as always, there's something strange going on.

The story is written in the first person, alternating chapter by chapter between predominantly Gwen and Rhys, but also featuring the viewpoints of several new characters when appropriate. I'm not always a fan of this perspective, but found that it really suits the Torchwood style. The voices of both main characters are absolutely spot on, and this has to be the top selling point.

The story takes a little while to get going - there's quite a lot of set-up before we actually get into the adventure, but it doesn't feel wrong - it's just that there's quite a bit of stuff to get through first establishing the situation of the characters. It's a good tale, though it is very definitely the sort of story that I've come to expect in Torchwood novels - fairly simple, nothing too deep of sciencey and very little real explanation at the end.

The book is packed with humour, much of it around Rhys and Gwen coping with a small child, although also with some film references, and this really helps to make this an entertaining read, even to someone who has no experience of such things in real life. I had my doubts about another set of Torchwood books (and was a little disappointed by the absence of matching covers to the previous 15) but if they are all three like this one I will be very satisfied.

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Risk Assessment

Risk Assessment

James Goss

18th February 2010

This is a strange Torchwood novel which I feel ambiguous about. It's quite entertaining, with a rapidly moving plot and lots of inescapable threat. There are plenty of comic moments and cheesy jokes which fit the Torchwood characters perfectly. In fact, Goss manages to portray the regulars incredibly faithfully.

But ultimately this book doesn't fit. It feels like a Mary Sue with the appearance of Agnes Havisham, who detracts from the main characters by stealing some of their screen time. Her back-story is sketchy, and a lot is provided in the format of flashbacks, which break uncomfortably into the story. Yes, by the end her presence feels justified but at first she seems out of place.

The plot is good for Torchwood - it's original, and while being full of surprising turns they do seem to make sense at the end. The aliens are plausible, though the Vam comes across as rather camp as a destroyer of worlds. There are a few minor plot holes but actually the resolution is well executed and doesn't feel implausible - refreshing for Torchwood.

My only other problem with this novel is how it fits into the wider Torchwood series. Clearly it is set between series two and three of the television programme, but there are elements of the continuity which feel out of place. Particularly the ending, unless it's designed to flow straight into the next book?

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