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Stranger Souls
Autor: Jak Koke
Część pierwsza trylogii Dragon Heart Saga
Data wydania: czerwiec 1997
Okładka: Doug Anderson
Shadowrun #26

Cytat na okładce: President Dunkelzahn's assassination brings the world to the brink of oblivion

W pierwszej księdze "Sagi Smoczego Serca", szokujące zabójstwo świeżo wybranego prezydenta Dunkelzahna niszczy świat nowej ery dla mieszkańców uniwersum Shadowrun. Kiedy shadowrunnerzy, służby specjalne i szefowie wielkich korporacji walczą o władzę, tylko cud może uchronić świat od całkowitej anihilacji.

Dunkelzahn the dragon's election as President of the United Canadian American States promised the dawn of a new era. But the hopes of a nation disintegrate with the powerful explosion that assassinates him. On that same fateful evenin special agent, Ryan Mercury, is on a secret mission of great urgency involving dangerous magic. And only a miracle can save the world from total destruction...

In this first book of the Dragon Heart Saga, Dunkelzahn's murder shocks the Awakened world. Rumors and suspicions run rampant as shadowrunners, Secret Service agents, and megacorp execs scramble for the reins of power. Open these pages to see the stroy behind the great dragon's deatch and the beginning of a new adventure...


Stranger Souls (novel)
by Jak Koke

This latest addition to the Shadowrun library is a fine read.

After the bad taste Shadowboxer left in our mouths, it's a breath of fresh air to be back to the things that make the Shadowrun novels enjoyable, at least according to me: big conspiracies, well-written and appealing characters, insights into some of the dark corners of the Shadowrun universe, mysterious spirits, cybernetic nightmares, and a cliffhanger that's going to make it quite difficult to wait for the next installment (not due until later in 1997).

Stranger Souls gives us some more insight into what really occurred that fateful night of Dunkelzahn's unfortunate demise, but that's only the beginning. The story ticks along at a fine pace as we follow Ryan Mercury, Nadja Daviar, the decker Jane-in-the-box and the rest of Dunkelzahn's hand- (er...claw-?) picked operatives as they struggle to recover an artifact that apparently promises to have a very important effect on the Shadowrun universe for some time to come. Assisting them in their quest is a mysterious and extremely powerful spirit named Lethe, and opposing them, among others, is the cyberzombie named Burnout. This character particularly intrigued me when it was revealed that he had once been a mage who had lost his edge and elected to undergo the cybermancy process; just thinking about that gives me a bad case of the shivers.

Also intriguing (but not for the weak of stomach) is more information about Aztechnology higher-up Thomas Roxborough, who was briefly and tantalisingly mentioned in the Aztlan Sourcebook.

Anyone who has read or experienced the Shadowrun module Harlequin's Back will find that Stranger Souls contains further insight into the current state of Thayla and the mana bridge; anyone who hasn't might be well-advised to read (or run though) this excellent scenario before reading this new novel. The background will be helpful. Let me just say that I am not at all surprised to find out what Mr. Darke is up to these days.

Stranger Souls is well-written, fast-paced, and, unlike Shadowboxer, peopled with characters that I actually gave a damn about. But then, I always was a sucker for heroic, "big picture" kinds of stories.

The book leaves one hanging, which is exactly what a good cliffhanger should do. I expect that we'll see more of Burnout, Lethe, and Ryan and Nadja's attempt to recover Dunkelzahn's mysterious item. Perhaps we'll even find out what really happened to Dunkelzahn. I hope so. OCENA: 3,5 (max 4)

This is the second trilogy set within the larger Shadowrun universe. With all the previous books already there to serve as universe primer, this one spends a lot less time on exposition than does the Secrets of Power trilogy, which started off the setting. It's still a bit dry, though.

The main story is that Dunkelzahn, the Great Dragon who managed to get himself elected president of UCAS on a platform of ethnic tolerance, is assassinted on his inauguration day. This is done in a very public, very violent, and very final manner. He's dead, Jim, dragon or no dragon. Ryan Mercury, one of Dunkelzahn's major troubleshooters, inherits the Dragon Heart. Nobody knows what it is, or what it does. The will states that it is very important, though.

But Mercury was captured by Aztechnology, one of the bloodiest megacorps on the planet. And somebody is trying to steal the Dragon Heart. Things get messy.

Almost nobody knows what is going on. The reader knows only a little more than the characters. Half the fun of the book is finding out what is going on.