‘The Circuit: Progeny Of Vale’ by Rhett C. Bruno is a fantastic follow up to ‘The Circuit: Executor Rising’. The first chapter serves as a prologue, at once refreshing the reader’s memory of the events of the first book in the series and perhaps preparing new visitors for the ride ahead. My recommendation is to start with the first book, however. It’s a great read, fast paced and full of action. You’ll also have the chance to meet author Rhett Bruno’s diverse cast of characters right at the beginning before he starts breaking them into little pieces, literally and figuratively.
‘Progeny Of Vale’ picks up right where ‘Executor Rising’ left off. Cassius Vale has freed Executor Sage Volus of the implant that made her a tool of the Tribune, but she doesn’t trust his motives. Fearing she will be branded a traitor, she returns to the fold. Now that she is no longer protected from the pain and triviality of human existence, however, she starts to doubt her purpose, for along with pain comes emotion and memories that have long been buried and questions that require answers.
Cassius is ready to emerge from hiding. Along with his creation, ADIM, he presents himself to the Ceresians, knowing it could go badly. It does. You know that saying: what goes up, must eventually come down. Without gravity, the opposite is true but in a more chaotic sense because Cassius is a master manipulator. He has a greater plan and I enjoyed watching him maneuver the various factions into place.
Talon tumbles into even more trouble than he managed to find in the first book. This time, he takes Tarsis with him. Talon is searching for his daughter but the path to her is quite literally littered with bodies. He will end up having to form some questionable alliances in order to find her.
Weaving through the personal stories of our primary characters is the inevitability of war. Opening shots have been fired and ideals and artefacts that have remained sacred to humanity are being compromised and destroyed. This time, it will be all in. Everyone must choose a side.
‘Progeny Of Vale‘ will deliver our three heroes and their companions to this conflict from three different directions – in time and space, of emotional and physical conflict. I enjoyed each character’s perspective and liked that Bruno managed to pull off the unexpected now and again. The android, ADIM, remains a personal favourite. As an artificial intelligence, ADIM’s character arc always has the deepest curve and the choices he makes in this book are reasoned in full and relatable detail, even when sometimes a little disturbing. It’s clear to me Bruno enjoys writing all of his characters, but that he’s having a great time developing ADIM. There is a line toward the end that is particularly hair-raising and offers up a twist I expect to see threading through the next book.
Which means I’ll be reading on, of course. I love the concept of ‘The Circuit’, I’m invested in the characters and I can’t wait to see where Bruno takes the story next.
(pub: Diversion Books. 275 page paperback and ebook. Paperback: Price: $14.99 (US), £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-68230-084-8. Ebook: Price: $ 4.99 (US), £ 3.28 (UK). ASIN: B019HD8MTG)