- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; First American Edition edition (May 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765315122
- ISBN-13: 978-0765315120
- Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.7 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 37 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,607,098 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Cowl First American Edition Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Like "Kage Baker on steroids," says David Hartwell in his promotional letter, and indeed Asher's latest SF novel (after 2004's The Skinner) bears definite similarities to Baker's popular tales of the Company. Both involve near-immortal time travelers who pursue complex, often mysterious objectives. But where Baker tends toward the literary and satirical, Asher prefers over-the-top violence and pyrotechnic super-science. In the near-future, Polly, a prostitute, and Tack, a government-programmed killer, get caught up in a war fought by superhuman antagonists from the future, the Heliothane and the Umbrathane. Neither side is particularly sympathetic, but the latter group is allied with the monstrous Cowl, an even more advanced being that threatens all human life. Cowl has let loose the torbeast, a ravening interdimensional creature the size of a small planet, and the Heliothane have reprogrammed Tack to go back in time and assassinate the monster. Well-done battle sequences, serviceable characters and an old-fashioned sense of wonder help offset a sometimes overly byzantine plot and a too-abstract depiction of time travel. Overall, this is an excellent read and should increase the author's growing reputation. (May 18)
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“Asher does time travel and he does it damn well, taking the reader on a journey that would make one hell of a theme park ride!” ―SFRevu.com
“Time travel, ultraviolence, big dinosaurs -- the perfect mind-blasting SF cocktail.” ―SFX magazine
“Asher has lit up the sky of Science Fiction like a new sun.” ―Tanith Lee
Top customer reviews
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Asher manages to keep the storyline from devolving to this point although there are portions later in the novel when the time travel theme becomes a bit muddled. I particularly liked the concept of a probability slope where timelines that diverge from the main line require ever increasing amounts of energy to escape from.
In terms of the characters in Cowl, much of the humor found in Asher's other novels is missing. The world of Cowl is even grimmer than the Polity universe and it comes through in many of the characters. Because of this, I felt detached from the characters and for this reason Cowl gets 4 stars.
The book was just about the perfect length, finishing right about when the novelty of the various plot devices started wearing off for me. It left me not wanting more of this story, but wanting to read more books by Asher. Highly recommended.