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The Artemis Files: #2: Talisman

This article originally appeared in the April 2013 issue.

The Artemis Files: #2: Talisman. Bradley Warnes.
Original publication: 2012
Current availability: print (mmpb) and ebook

Following my review of the first book in the series, Elysium, I have discovered that not only is Bradley Warnes an incredibly nice guy, but that his writing output is phenomenal—even more so as he has a young family and a full time job. In the time that it has taken me to write this book review, Warnes has published two further novels, Durendal, the third in the Artemis Files series, and Lexington, a prequel. When I asked him how he found the time to write, he said that he did most of his writing late at night and early in the morning and when firing on all cylinders, was able to finish one or two chapters a day. I wish I had such self-discipline.

Warnes’ developing maturity is plain to see in Talisman and continues in Durendal. Elysium took place entirely on a single world, with a linear plot involving a single protagonist. In Talisman, the settings cover three systems, with two protagonists and plot/sub-plot strands that resolve at the end of the book. There are far fewer typos and the language is more assured and less repetitious, but (and this is an important ‘but’) the novel still keeps its pulpy feel and does not try to punch above its literary weight or pretend to be something it is not.

Talisman takes place on Albany, a desert planet, Surinamalabad, a dense jungle world, and the Talisman system itself (Warnes’ novels are named after key planetary systems which feature in them). There is more exposition in Talisman than in Elysium (although some of it is deftly hidden), but it is interesting exposition to read. ‘Infodumping’ is not always a bad thing – and in Science Fiction it’s virtually impossible to avoid – if it is engaging which I found the expository conversation between Montclare (the hero) and Chelsea (his sexy sidekick) to be. Warnes uses the opportunity to explain why the Hinterland worlds have fallen into technological reverse and introduces us to the Genalts – humanity’s foes in the last interstellar war who will doubtless play a key part in the series story arc.

I found the starport and startown in Surinamalabad particularly well-drawn (one of the great strengths in Warnes’ writing is the character of his locations). It is here that we are introduced to new supporting characters whom Warnes uses to texture the national characteristics of some the polities that make up the Core systems and who further information about the purpose of the Artemis Project.

Warnes is in for the long run and steadily putting into place the vocabulary of his universe. For example, each book fleshes out the national character of a polity of the Core sector through individuals from that place. What is learned in previous books carries forward to next, allowing Warnes to advance the story without having to worry about providing background information.

I am really enjoying the series and am thankful for the speed at which Warnes puts out new books. Not having to wait long for the next novel is always welcome!