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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying conclusion to a fascinating series
First off, for those of you haven't already read "Behemoth: B-Max" (at least) you will definitely want to do so before tackling "Behemoth: Seppuku". For reasons that the author explains in the first volume, they constitute one book that was split into two due to pressures in the publishing issue. This novel does not stand alone, and will make no sense without reading...
Published on February 28, 2005 by J. N. Mohlman

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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Deeply disappointing, a major creative misstep
Unlike his excellent debut, Starfish and its first sequel, Maelstrom, this conclusion is a disappointing creative misstep on the part of its author. The chief problem with BEHEMOTH: SEPPUKU is that in spite of setting up Lenie Clarke as the heroine of the story, Clarke herself is entirely passive throughout the book, making no real decisions or actions on her own, being...
Published on January 13, 2005 by Watches with Wolves


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying conclusion to a fascinating series, February 28, 2005
By 
J. N. Mohlman (Barrington, RI USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Behemoth: Seppuku (Bk. 2) (Hardcover)
First off, for those of you haven't already read "Behemoth: B-Max" (at least) you will definitely want to do so before tackling "Behemoth: Seppuku". For reasons that the author explains in the first volume, they constitute one book that was split into two due to pressures in the publishing issue. This novel does not stand alone, and will make no sense without reading the previous volume. Furthermore, there are two other volumes in the series "Starfish" and "Maelstrom" and while each entry stands on its own fairly well, reading the books in order would definitely be the approach I would recommend.

For those of you who are new to the series, here is a brief synopsis that should tell you whether or not these books are for you. Essentially, the story arc is about evolution: human, animal and electronic. By mixing a blend of biology, computer science and chaos theory, author Peter Watts has created a near future Earth where man is simultaneously at the height of his powers and walking the knife's edge of total ecological failure. In an effort to maintain the high standard of Western living mankind has turned to deep sea geothermal power to meet their energy needs. Miles below the ocean, specially engineered humans culled from the dregs of society maintain these power plants. However, what no one could have expected was that they would encounter an organism that would unleash an apocalypse. Part hard science-fiction, part post-apocalyptic, the first two books represent a genuinely original voice in the genre.

For those of you who have been eagerly awaiting "Seppuku" rest assured the ending is eminently satisfying. Given the two volume approach, it is difficult to offer much in the way of plot details without providing spoilers, but I can say that after the somewhat broader focus of "Maelstrom" and "B-Max" the story has gone full circle and boiled back down to the most perverse trinity of characters one is likely to find: Lenie Clarke, Ken Lubin and Achilles Desjardins. As the three engage in a power-play in which no one's motivations are clear and the fate of the world hangs in the balance, action takes precedence over thought, to sometimes disastrous effect. Nonetheless, the science and technology which has so defined this series is on ample display and is as prescient as ever.

Of particular note, I found the conclusion to be perfectly enigmatic. This is post-apocalyptic fiction, and a happy ending would have been wildly out of place, but Watts' conclusion recognizes this without being entirely bleak. In this regard, his novel owes more to "Alas, Babylon" with it's open ended conclusion, than the superb, but utterly fatalistic "On the Beach".

To say more would risk huge spoilers, so suffice it to say "Sepukku" is every bit the conclusion I was hoping for. Watts has combined hard science fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction and taken both in new and exciting directions. If you're a fan of the series, you'll be glad at the way it ends; if you're intrigued by this review, grab "Starfish" and start from the beginning.

Jake Mohlman
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Behemoth, April 8, 2005
By 
K. Freeman (Apple Valley, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Behemoth: Seppuku (Bk. 2) (Hardcover)
An anaerobic microbe from the deep sea may have delivered the coup de grace to an already struggling mid-21st century world.

It makes more sense to me to review the whole series when it's one story -- so here goes.

I was very surprised to find that the mass market editions of these books are out of print -- even as the final hardcover has only just been released. I can't understand why this series wouldn't get more support, because in my opinion it has everything that successful science fiction needs. Watts incorporates big, shiny ideas -- and the deep-sea biology is a wonderful original touch. The books include a high level of action and tension and, pleasantly unusually for "idea" SF, are strongly character-driven. And the characters are tormented enough for anyone.

There are flaws. At times, the plot is unclear, and while I like the pivotal role played by ignorance and misunderstanding, at times an irritating back-and-forth plot dynamic (Seppuku is a cure, no it isn't, yes it is) appears. Characterization, while overall excellent, at times seems over the top -- it's not entirely clear why *everyone* is so messed up, and the stupid bickering between the Rifters and the corporates in Atlantis left me with sympathy for neither side. I was put off by the apparent indifference of the characters to the impending destruction of Earth's whole ecosystem -- but then, they're selfish and profoundly damaged people, and creating sympathy for them in the reader's mind does not seem to have been Watts' priority. I would have found the aforesaid destruction more effective had it been shown more clearly.

But, despite all these quibbles, I think this series is really good SF, and I highly recommend it.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Deeply disappointing, a major creative misstep, January 13, 2005
This review is from: Behemoth: Seppuku (Bk. 2) (Hardcover)
Unlike his excellent debut, Starfish and its first sequel, Maelstrom, this conclusion is a disappointing creative misstep on the part of its author. The chief problem with BEHEMOTH: SEPPUKU is that in spite of setting up Lenie Clarke as the heroine of the story, Clarke herself is entirely passive throughout the book, making no real decisions or actions on her own, being led by her sociopathic-but-honourable comrade Ken Lubin. She never achieves any great insight and becomes a bit player in the story.

This book feels as if the author had become so preoccupied with his Hard Science Fiction ruminations that he had forgotten that his characters had been complex, dimensional characters in the previous books, and were now merely cartoonish chess pieces wandering through a thin narrative. There are also the deeply disturbing scenes in which the villain rapes and mutilates a sympathetic supporting character that eventually feel like a gratuitous exercise in writing snuff porn with a Science discussion interweaved in them, especially when that subplot no longer links up with the main story and never reaches any real resolution.

The first two books in this series brilliantly married the Science with the complexity and pain of its damaged characters, but this book has degenerated into a dystopian cartoon that feels too much like a wallow in the [...] of sexual sadism and social pessimism. There have been brilliant dystopian Science Fiction novels in that past that earned their pessimism, like John Brunner's THE SHEEP LOOK UP. Alas, BEHEMOTH: SEPPUKU does not belong in that league.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, June 12, 2009
This review is from: Behemoth: Seppuku (Bk. 2) (Hardcover)
I am reviewing the last 2 books as one here, which is how the author intended them to be published. First, you will have a hard time with the content if you haven't read the series starting with Starfish. The story is compelling and fascinating and a more than a little horrible. The writing is excellent and the plot unfolds briskly. The science is well researched and accessible to most intelligent readers. The proposed what-ifs of a near-apocalypitcal future are totally plausable.

But sheesh Watts is hard on his characters. I give 4 stars for a great book, because it is, but I admit I'm left cold by the violence: some sexually graphic and sadistic, up close and personal, some happening far away from the characters at hand but with devestating consequence. All in the name of saving the world. The ending is enigmatic: I would have loved a neat wrap up of the surviving characters and and exposition of the future, but it's not that kind of book. So be it: that is Watts' choice and I have no bones with it aside from personal preference. But what I do have bones with is the dilution of Lenie's character from a force to be reckoned with to a a whiny nay-sayer. Even if Lenie more or less killed the whole world in the previous books, at least she did it with style (ya know, in a really twisted way). Now she sets off to save the world with a whimper and a moan. Boo. So that's my beef.

Conclusion: if you love terse, unshirking, compelling and serious sci-fi, Watts is your man. Read in good health.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying ending to an intriguing series, June 16, 2007
By 
Tim F. Martin (Madison, AL United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Behemoth: Seppuku (Bk. 2) (Hardcover)
Peter Watts concludes his _Rifters_ saga in the fourth and final volume, _Behemoth: Book Two: Seppuku_. Watts had written that he originally planned a trilogy but that changes in the publishing industry had forced him to divide his rather large final volume into two novels, but that he was fortunate to have a good breaking point between the two books and two resulting novels that were different in scope. It seems to have been a good choice, as while _Behemoth_Book One_ focused nearly entirely on the undersea refuge of the corpses and rifters (along with our old friend Achilles Desjardins), _Book Two_ spent no time there at all but instead allowed the reader a tour of a post-Behemoth North America, a taste of international politics, and of course the end game between Lenie Clarke, Ken Lubin, and Achilles (and a new character that the book introduces, a physician by the name of Taka Ouellette).

Overall I found it satisfying. The post-apocalyptic world we got to see was believable and interesting though wasn't perhaps as well-explored as what we got to see in _Maelstrom_. We were shown much more of the sick and sadistic pleasures of Achilles. While never really entering "torture porn" territory, the reader is left with a sense of disquiet (at least this one was) about how far the author would go in that regard. I didn't think it gratuitous, as this was a fundamental aspect of Achilles' character and of what had happened to him regarding his conscience, but it still nonetheless made me a bit uncomfortable at times (and makes me wonder just what the future holds for some forms of entertainment, given the evolution of horror films and the continual apparent need for succeeding films to outdo one another, a point I think the author was trying to make).

I liked the ending, it had two interesting twists I really enjoyed and didn't devolve into what it could have been (one character simply killing another, story over). The world at the end of the novel is fundamentally different and not necessarily a world without hope. It is also a world that would be interesting to see explored in a later novel.

I would like to express my displeasure at this series being out of print despite its recent age (_Seppuku_ came out in 2004). That is a real shame, as it is a worthwhile and interesting series, an excellent addition to the end of the world sub-genre of science fiction as well as probably the finest novel to ever handle the deep sea and ocean themes. The series overall was well researched (the author himself was a marine biologist) and had well-developed characters, a fascinating setting, and was an intriguing exploration of developing trends in our world.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing conclusion to aa series that started so well., April 18, 2012
This review is from: Behemoth: Seppuku (Bk. 2) (Hardcover)
When I was sixteen I worked at a grocery store with a girl named Marianne whom I thought was pretty attractive. I wanted to ask her out for months but could never build up enough courage. After all, I didn't want to have to work with her if things went terribly wrong on the date. Eventually she quit and on her last day working, I asked her out. She said yes and we made plans for that weekend.

A short time into the date I realized that her breath was horrible. I don't know if it was an anomaly or if I had just never been that close to her before. Either way, the date couldn't end fast enough for me. When I took her home I stopped walking halfway to her front door and let her walk the rest of the way alone-where I told her goodbye from a safe distance of about 20 yards.

What does that have to do with Behemoth: Seppuku? Very little actually. But it does have something to do with the Rifters series, of which this book is the the fourth and final volume. Several years ago when I came across the first book in the series; Starfish, I was attracted to its eye-catching cover and intriguing description on the inside flap. I read it and enjoyed it. When the next book Maelstrom came out, I started to notice the bad breath. Unfortunately, as I've mentioned before, I have a mental disorder that does not allow me to quit reading a book I'm not enjoying, and apparently the condition makes it hard for me to stop reading a series of books once started.

The series takes place in the not-too-distant future. In need of a new source of energy, mankind begins to tap into geothermal vents in the deepest parts of the ocean. It's discovered that hardened criminals possess the type of temperament best conducive to surviving under the extreme conditions at the bottom of the ocean and given the choice between imprisonment and a relatively free lifestyle segregated from the rest of humanity, many choose the latter. These workers are then surgically altered into amphibian-like creatures (rifters) in order to allow them to survive at such depths. Unfortunately, for the rest of mankind, there are bacteria that thrive at the bottom of the ocean. Bacteria that the human race is not prepared to defend itself against. Using the rifters as vehicles to the surface, the bacteria quickly spread with apocalyptic results.

As the series progresses, halitosis sets in. There's not a likeable character anywhere in the series and the great idea behind the story gets overshadowed by the author's overwhelming angst and pessimism. Even in the acknowledgement section at the back of the book - yeah, my condition made me read that too, Watts writes that even if the book and the series "sucks" it would "suck even worse" if it wasn't for the help of the acknowledged individuals. If you're interested in owning the complete series, there's going to be a very cheap set on eBay in a few minutes.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Some images aren't worth seeing, March 7, 2007
This review is from: Behemoth: Seppuku (Bk. 2) (Hardcover)
I loved Starfish. I appreciated the smart science (hey, gotta love SF with bibliographies!); I found the world riveting and the characters well-drawn. But I cannot, in good conscience, recommend this book. The sequence of sexual sadism, which stretches on for chapter after excruciating chapter, is simply too visually explicit to be worth experiencing. It's an image I just didn't need, and one I can't get out of my head. It includes an eroticized clitoridectomy, for goodness sake. For me, that sequence overshadows everything else in the book, and however much you may want to see the resolution of issues raised in the other books, be sure you're willing to have that image stuck to your eyeballs before you buy or read this volume.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars ugh, don't bother, June 12, 2006
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This review is from: Behemoth: Seppuku (Bk. 2) (Hardcover)
The first book, "Starfish" was amazing, just a great read. This last book is horrible! Confusing, pointless, and extremely degrading, I wish I had never read it. I agree whole heartedly with "aisian film c" above! The rape and torture of one of the more sympathetic characters is what really pushed this book into the crapper for me.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting finale, November 25, 2004
This review is from: Behemoth: Seppuku (Bk. 2) (Hardcover)
Five years ago amphibious cyborg Lenie Clarke unleashed the microbe Behemoth on an unsuspecting world, killing ten million in North America. Lenni and her fellow cyborgs escape the devastation in the ocean depths and are at war with the VIP's who fled to the underwater city of Atlantis. The people of Atlantis and cyborgs make peace when Behemoth finds its way into the underwater city. For the first time in five years Lenie journeys to land accompanied by Ken Lubin to find a way to keep Behemoth out of Atlantis.

Although a vaccine for Behemoth exists, it is in scarce supply so more people die from the microbe and the plagues that follow in its wake. Watchers guard against anyone breaking out of quarantine and many countries want to eradicate North America and thus destroy Behemoth. A new deadly microbe Seppuku is launched as a cure for Behemoth but when it kills the microbe it also infects the host. A watcher, Achilles Desjarding know that Seppuku will eventually die out before killing the host but he doesn't tell anyone because he wants to keep all the power he gained. Lenie and Ken can stop him but it might mean their deaths.

BEHEMOTH: SEPPUKU is the last of the Lenni Clark books and it is just as action-packed and exciting as STARFISH: MAELSTROM and BEHEMOTH: B-MAX. This is a dark gritty speculative fiction novel with the survivors grimly determined to rebuild civilization if Behemoth is eradicated. Lenie knows she can never find redemption but she does her best to save what is left of the North American population. Desjarding is the archetype villain who everyone will love to hate. Peter Watts is writing excellent cutting edge science fiction.

Harriet Klausner
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Behemoth: Seppuku (Bk. 2)
Behemoth: Seppuku (Bk. 2) by Peter Watts (Hardcover - January 1, 2005)
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