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An ancient kingdom harbors awesome secrets...
In the heart of Cambodia, a portal to the eternal mysteries of space and time lures both good and evil to its promise. Now, a deadly imbalance has not only brought havoc to the region, but it also threatens the efforts of the Cerberus warriors. To have control of the secrets locked deep within the sacred city is to possess the power to manipulate the earth's vast energies... and in the wrong hands, to alter the past, present and future in unfathomable ways....
GUARDIANS OF POWER
Shrouded in manipulation and mystery, a deadly order grips the treacherous post-nuclear world, one that conspires to weaken and subjugate humanity as it has for eons. Yet the oligarchy of hybrid barons is slowly losing its power over insurrectionist forces, led by rebels willing to lead mankind out of its yoke of slavery. Though the timeless secrets of Earth and its oppressors remain locked, the sheer fortitude of the human soul remains strong....
In the heart of Cambodia, a portal to the eternal mysteries of space and time lures both good and evil to its promise. Now, a deadly imbalance has not only brought havoc to the region, but also threatens the efforts of the Cerberus warriors. To have control of the secrets locked deep within the sacred city is to possess the power to manipulate Earth’s vast energies…and in the wrong hands, to alter the past, present and future in unfathomable ways....
Worth the wait and more
Evil Abyss was well worth the wait, even if it doesn't match the manic heights of novels like Talon and Fang or even Mad God’s Wrath, it's a welcome adventure full of action and drama and a very intriguing mystery.
There's a slew of colorful characters: Boss Klaw, Colonel Puyang, The Magickers and. the fascinating new character of the warlord, General Zhou Tzu. The first quarter of the book, set in Ragnarville’s Tartarus Pits takes the reader back to Kane, Grant and Domi’s roots and it’s a very violent reintroduction, not to mention hot—since they end up burning down half of Tartarus.
The main plot is about Kane’s search for a missing interphaser jump team from Cerberus. Brigid Baptiste, Brewster Philboyd and Nora Pennick go missing in Cambodia and he takes a Manta ship to find them. Unfortunately, he crash-lands and then meets an interesting assortment of people who help him achieve his goal—for their own reasons.
The subplot deals with destiny, fate and karma and the balancing out of old sins. All of those elements, woven throughout the story are very interesting. The characterization of the heroes is razor sharp, with no missteps. I really enjoyed Brigid’s own individual adventures in Cambodia, showing she is quite capable in her own right without having to rely on Kane.
Like almost all of the Outlanders novels by Mark Ellis, Evil Abyss is enjoyable, smart entertainment for both new and old fans of the series. There is an air of tragic inevitability about the characters, particularly Zhou Tzu.
If this book doesn't quite attain the wild sci-fi level of some of the previous adventures, the book still delivers a fun, action-packed time in the “Axlerverse”. More than anything, it was wonderful visiting with all the characters again.
Vivid and rich!
Evil Abyss is different than a lot of OL books even by Mark Ellis, but at least it feels right. There are a lot of traditional sequences, like shootouts in the Tartarus Pits and face-downs with slaggers, but like the best of the OL series, the development of the plot is well drawn and set into motion in the prologue.
Evil Abyss has a tie-in to Asian religous mystery and mythology and the material about the ancient Khmer empire and the Nagas is fascinating. All the action was solid, well paced and placed throughout. The battle scenes and Kane’s relentless drive to find the missing party from Cerberus in the Cambodian jungle was riveting.
The probing of the mysteries of Angor Wat was excellent. Call me strange, but I really enjoyed the scene with an imprisoned Philboyd and the lice!
But more than anything, it was the vivid characters in Evil Abyss that brought it to life…Boss Klaw, Colonel Puyang, the Magickers and the beautiful Devi-Naga.
Brigid’s own adventures in Cambodia, separated from everyone, was a welcome change since she had gotten so little attention in the previous book. Here she shines like she’s supposed to—brilliant, brave, caring and honorable…and even sexy!
The warlord Zhou Tzu was a great, rich character, especially the mystical bond he shares with Kane whose arrival in his country helps him pay off a karmic debt. His karmic connection with Kane was very interesting, since Kane feels guilt for an action of his early on in the story. The theme of the book seemed to explore the human experience from a number of different perspectives—loss, duty, war, self-sacrifice and the struggle against evil.
The connections and continuity to other OL books was a great part of this one, with the tie-in between the Nagas and the Annunaki. I credit the fast-paced and intelligent writing style of Mark Ellis for keeping this series fresh and exciting with the introduction of interesting new concepts and characters.
Enjoy, Evil Abyss is a great read and primes this fan for the next one, Children of the Serpent!
by The Phantom
This title has all the stuff that a science fiction adventure novel demands. While not among the very best books in the series, it is about as good as you could expect from the high quality of writing that Ellis has consistently put out over the years in this series.
The opening scene grabs the reader's interest, then its shift to Grant and Kane's adventure in the pits of Ragnarville add action and dealings with a pit boss, rescue operation, and dealings with Roamer leaders. The focus shifts to the location of the opening scene, in the jungle of Cambodia. I loved the way the Cerberus members were separated and each had their own adventure, leading to the conclusion in an ancient city.
Each of these adventures were well written and entertaining, with much interesting myths and legends of this interesting culture woven into the story. All of the characters had an important role in the story, and all loose ends were tied up nicely at the end.
I liked the cool vimana ships in the story, the background of the Naga and the General and the princess. Action. Adventure. Exotic lands. Interesting heroes and villains. Cool sci-fi stuff. It's all here.
High adventure in exotic lands
by Cerberus Man
Evil Abyss is a very colorful novel in the Outlanders series, featuring a number of fascinating characters and concepts. I was very much drawn to General Zhou Tzu. I'm not familiar with the "Warlord" character from the I Spy episode that inspired him, but I still I found him completely compelling...almost like an older, wiser and more Asian version of Kane himself.
I also was intrigued by the opening chapters set in Ragnarville and the introduction of the Millennial Consortium, potential new enemies of Cerberus.
Evil Abyss wasn't the best OL novel by Mark Ellis, but it was head, shoulders and hips above Uluru Destiny and at least it features all the characters the way they're supposed to be written.
Brigid was presented as the exact opposite of the simpering libriarian the way Milan mis-writes her.
By combining on-model characterization with high adventure in exotic lands with a touch of mysticism and science-fiction, Mark Ellis has produced another very memorable book in the Outlanders series.
I've said this before--Outlanders is a very unique series and it's a terrible shame that Gold Eagle doesn't appreciate the gem it has here.
The master is back!
Evil Abyss like all of his books, even his DL novels proves if there is a current master of the action-adventure/sci-fi genre, it has to be Mark Ellis, no question.
To begin with, Evil Abyss probably seems so good to me because it washes the taste of the previous book Uluru Destiny out of my mind.. I don’t think Abyss is among the top five of the Outlanders series, but it's still very good and very entertaining.
As usual with a book by Mark Ellis, the strong points are character development—Ellis can introduce a new character and in a couple of pages you have the 'feel' of him or her, particularly with the mystical and colorful General Zhou Tzu, who keeps you guessing about his true motives throughout the entire adventure.
All of Evil Abyss is peopled with characters that are colorful and cool, larger than life yet quite human and emotionally engaging. It is easy to care about all these folks and to become involved in the world of Outlanders.
The very flamboyant Boss Klaw who we haven’t seen in many years makes a comeback and her reintroduction in a funny scene (she and Kane both pretend to be drunk so the other will let slip some information) is one of the high points of the book.
The characters are as vivid as in the other books and though takes awhile for the main plot to start, it's completely gripping when it does. The “prequel’ part in Ragnarville is full of blazing action—literally, with gunfights in the middle of an inferno as Kane, Grant and Domi try to rescue the daughter of an abducted Roamer cheiftain, who it turns out doesn’t want to be rescued. A new potential adversary is introduced, the mysterious Millennial Consortium.
The main plot deals with Brigid, Nora Pennick ,one of the Moon base scientists and Philboyd testing the newly completed interphaser 2.5, mentioning that the last one they had was destroyed on Mars…so that makes Sun Lord another parallel casement story, since Brigid used the interphaser in that book.
They phase into a Cambodian temple and are immediately caught up in a three-way war between General Zhou Tzu, the Devi-Naga’s Cobra Guards and the Magickers. The war is being waged for control of a nexus of earth energies hidden deep inside the ancient city of Angkor Wat.
There is far more going on than meets the eye, which usual for an OL novel by Ellis. The Cambodian setting is very exotic, described in picturesque detail, beautiful but with its own deadly threats, like giant Komodo dragons and a revolting Asian offshoot of the swampies, known as Bottom Feeders.
Its been mentioned that Ellis has a affinity for Asian settings and Evil Abyss shows it off once again. The jungles, the temples, the people of Cambodia all seem very real and authentic.
In Cambodia, Kane hooks up with Nora and Zhou Tzu in his search for Brigid and Philboyd and is trapped in the General’s “karmic wheel’ which is connected to the fate of the entire Cambodian people and the beautiful Devi-Naga in a way I didn’t expect. In many ways, this is almost a “retro’ OL novel…there is no overt science-fiction until the near the end, and even that isn’t too wild.
Evil Abyss is more about characters than a complicated story, even though it’s not a simple plot. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for everyone in this book. All the characters, even the main bad guy of the story, the disfigured Colonel Puyang, are all trapped in replay of ancient myths about the Nagas and the rulers of Angor Wat which ends in tragedy.
Of course, the writing is top notch and the dialogue and description of combat is exceptional, as always. Readers like me who were annoyed by the poor characterization of the main cast in Uluru Destiny won’t find anything to be unhappy about in Evil Abyss.
Everybody is back “on model’ from Domi, still beautiful and deadly but NOT a psycho-slut to even the annoying Philboyd who comes off as very brave in this one, just inept—which he shamedly has to admit.
Kane is once again the quick-witted and driven warrior and Brigid, more or less on her own, is her usual tough, brilliant and formidble self.
Speaking of Domi, she and a middle-aged Lakesh are shown in a loving relationship again (even though there’s a nude scene with her, theres a reason for it), Kane is clean-shaved with no mention of grey in his hair, and though a couple of the characters argue, nobody gets nasty or pulls a gun on anybody. The Cerberus staff are presented as mature and professional. No previously dead characters like Beth-Li are resurrected either which was a relief…and Quavell is back, too…the due date of her baby pretty close now.
Overall, I gotta say I loved this book. The only problem that I have with the OL series is how long I have to wait for the next one. This is made worse by the fact that I’m a fast reader. Its going to be a long wait between Evil Abyss and Children of the Serpent!
Ten solid stars!!
The Anghor Wat Adventure!
by One Eye Chills
Mark Ellis's latest Outlander's installment was an excellent adventure read.
Chock-full of his usual scientific and fantasy-like aspects of strange Earth energies, EVIL ABYSS was a fun and exciting read.
However, it was also chock-full of missing words. Editors are falling asleep at the wheel in editing these works. Last issue, Victor Milan's sentences were overlong and awkward. This issue, Ellis's work was just plum missing simple words. Weird and distracting.
The artwork of these novels - though excellent - miss the marked chracteristics of the characters.
Why is Grant bald, and without his gunfighter's mustache? Why is Kane looking different in every book cover art? Where is his wolf-like build and facial scar? He looks like a clean-shaved and nicely har-cutted college student.
Such excellent artwork, but missing such vital details. Is no one awake out there in Gold eagle Publishing Land?? What a shame.
The story of Evil Abyss - the main plot leastways - takes almost half the book to get to. There was a tad bit of backwash backstory starting to resurfece again, but not as badly as it has been in the not too distant past.
Not as good as Mask of the Sphinx, Ellis still manages to balance writing a solid action/adventure story, along with rich characterization.
I like the fact that he is delving into Kane's and Brigid's feelings towards one another, but it still seems way too long and drawn out in this type of world scenario.
I also liked the fact that Kane goes off on the Cambodian adventure alone, giving the reader more time with him, instead of having to balance Grant, Domi, and Lakesh into the mix. Nice change. I wish Deathlands writers would do more of the same with Ryan Cawdor.
The story for me really took off as kane crash-lands in Cambodia, fighting off giant mutie monitor lizards and meeting up with his fate and/or destiny once again, unbeknownst to him, of course.
As usual, Ellis's scientific principles sound interesting and well researched, but I could never explain them, nor pretend to totally understand them myself. But they lend a realism to the fantasy, sci-fi aspects of the story. He's always been good at that.
This was kind of a strange journey for me, as well as kane and company, but still a solid read, nonetheless. Well worth the time to read.
I'm really looking forward to the next installment that is suposedly marking a major change in the series.
Again, excellent artwork and coloring on the cover, but characteristics all wrong. Drives me crazy.
Tip of the hat to an old friend
The latest Outlanders offering is a bit of a switch from Mark's usual fare, as I will describe later in the review.
It's good to see him back at the helm, after the less than adequate offerings we've had over the past year, with the exception of Mask of the Sphinx.
Instead of the usual save the world from a dreaded evil, it's quite a simple story. It starts out with Brigid Baptiste, Philboyd and a woman named Nora testing out the latest Interphaser device. They end up arriving in a small temple in Cambodia, where they're separated and each person ends up in a different faction's camp.
Of course, each faction has its own agenda, with only Philboyd being the one threatened with death.
Grant and Domi both wish to come with Kane on the rescue mission to help the three of them, but Kane pulls off a fast one, taking one of the Mantas without letting either of them know of his plans. It's a one-man rescue mission this time.
Upon arrival, the Manta crash lands after all the power is knocked from it, and he meets up with some of the locals.
With their help, he joins forces with a General named Zhou Tzu and agrees, albeit reluctantly, to help him fulfill his destiny, as well as to rescue his friends. It turns out that Nora has fallen for the general, and he for her in return, and clearly has no interest in returning to Cerberus.
Working together, they are able to locate Brigid Baptiste and Philboyd, and rescue the latter.
During the rescue attempt, they inadvertently get involved in yet another revolt, and reunite the General with his daughter, the ruler of the city-state.
For anyone who happens to be a fan of the old I Spy TV series from the 60's, they will find that this novel is very similar to one of the episodes called "Warlord". The book is even dedicated to Robert Culp, who was the star of this series. I found the General had a great deal in common with the character that Mr. Culp portrayed in the episode.
What also sets this novel apart from the rest of the series is that instead of having the usual pattern of Kane, Grant and Brigid heading out on a mission together, they are all separated. Hell, even Domi and Grant have less a role to play than usual in the novel.
This might put off some people, but I personally found it to be a refreshing change from the usual method we've all become so used to over the years the series has been running.
Also, it's nice to have a novel once in a while that isn't earth shattering in it's scope, like we've been given time and again.
That is coming in the next novel.
Finally, as you would expect, with the novel having been written by Mark Ellis, the characters are dead on target once again.
Unlike previous novels we've been subjected to.