*Warning: It will be impossible for me to discuss this second part of The Rifter without giving away spoilers for part 1!*
After the excitement of Part One of this serialised novel (reviewed HERE) things begin to settle into what looks like a duel storyline for our two heroes. The first story tales up about two thirds of this 140-odd page second part and follows John as he seeks a way to get him and his two companions, Laurie and Bill, into the city of Amura’taye where he hopes to locate a key to get them back to Earth. In order to do this John becomes embroiled in a fight between rebels and a convoy of soldiers who are conveying a boy who wishes to become a priest in Amura’taye. The second story follows Kahlil who is struggling with his lack of memory and has become a mercenary. Whilst working undercover he discovers a plot to kill a prominent war-lord from the North, Jath’ibaye, and is startled when it becomes clear that he may not be the only man to be able to manipulate gray space.
As you would expect this second part builds on what has come previously. More than that, it also starts to expand the setting away from the waste lands of Basawar and into the civilisation of Amura’taye. With this change of setting comes a switch in the importance of the characters as Bill and Laurie begin to fade a little into the background and newer characters such as the soldier, Pivan; the Lady Boursim and her son Fikiri come to the forefront. With this change of focus in character comes a move away from the survival plot of earlier in the book to one of political intrigue as John gets drawn into life in Amura’taye. This was a quieter part of the book, especially after a heart-in-your-mouth battle scene at the beginning of the second part, where the foundations are being laid for later in the book. As with the beginnings of all good books it is difficult for John to know who to trust in this strange political landscape and there are many characters who could be either a friend or enemy for him. This doesn't mean these scenes were dull, because they weren't, but their relevance to the story as a whole is a mystery as yet and it remains to be seem how much of this is important for John as the book progresses. One interesting thing to note is the way that John's decisions are starting to change the course of history. It's very subtle but as we move into the second story involving Kahlil we can see the effect these ripples cause in the future.
The section with Kahlil is shorter than the events with John, and is almost like another beginning to the book. Kahlil has somehow been thrown nearly thirty years into the future. Thus tendrils of links are made between the two stories as we are fed bits and pieces of information that Kahlil is able to glean about past events and we meet characters who appear alongside John in the first half - who are now much older. Like the first section involving John, this part was heavily political in tone as, again, the foundations are laid for later in the book. I have to say that I found this section much slower moving than the first part and my interest began to wane a little. However, this part ends with a shocking revelation which certainly regained my attention and left me clamouring for more in part three.
Overall, this second part of The Rifter was a quieter and more complex affair than part one. The complexity is good as it shows how the different layers of the story are being built. A slight niggle that came out of this is the proliferation of unusual place and character names and I have to admit getting a little lost at times, especially in the system of honourifics and titles and in particular those which used apostrophes. The handy glossary at the back will be fine for those who can easily switch to the back few pages to look things up, but were not so handy for me on my book reader. However, that was just a slight niggle in a story which is slowly gaining momentum and promises to deliver an intricate, multi-layered plot as we move into part three. My only complaint is having to wait another month to read the next part!
You can either buy this second part - and then any subsequent parts - separately for $3.99 each, or buy the whole book at $29.95 and each month the new part will be sent to you via email. More information about this and the buy now page can be found HERE.