01/12/2008. Contributed by Gareth D Jones
pub: Bantam Spectra. 482 page paperback. Price: $ 6.99 (US), $ 8.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-553-59162-0.
check out websites: www.bantamdell.com
In the middle of Africa, an ancient yet advanced artefact is discovered far beneath the Earth's surface and Paul Reece, heir to a huge mining corporation, leads the mission to uncover its mysteries. 'Perfect Circle' is an engrossing adventure that mixes ancient mysticism and philosophy with modern business and politics, intriguing characters and interesting relationships, mining technology and social observation. It's Cortes' first novel and I'm suitably impressed.
What struck me from the outset was the authority with which Cortes describes a variety of lands and culture from Central America to the heart of Africa. His descriptions of both the environment and peoples is compelling. The opening scenes switch from the Congolese jungle to the Honduran rainforest. I've never considered it before, but Cortes portrays the two as completely different, even though to you and me a jungle is just a jungle.
He employs some brilliant and often humorous descriptions and metaphors, particularly when introducing his characters. Paul Reece, in particular is an astonishingly complex creation. During the first few chapters we're given various glimpses of him that constantly forced me to re-evaluate my view of him. His motives and personality continue to develop throughout the book and particularly as events reach a climax during the expedition to reach the artefact.
The plot is complex and intriguing, involving numerous parties that interact and vie with one another. The more that's revealed the more it becomes evident how far reaching the behind-the-scenes plotting is and how cleverly Cortes has woven it all together. It's a non-stop ride incorporating intrigue and suspense, moments of humour, episodes of brutality and terror and the ever-present mystery of the buried artefact.
From the foregoing you've probably concluded that I enjoyed this book and indeed I did. Carlos Cortes has produced a first-rate SF adventure that satisfies to the end.
Gareth D. Jones
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