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The Long and the Short Swords (The Bridge Chronicles) (Volume 4) Paperback – January 18, 2013
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About the Author
Gary A. Ballard was born, raised and still resides in the state of Mississippi. He began writing at the age of 11, completing a number of really bad, thankfully unpublished novels during his teen years. Graduating from Belhaven College with a degree in Fine Arts, he has painted, photographed, drawn, and written the world as he sees it. Working as a web designer since the early days of the World Wide Web, Gary is well-versed in social media, graphic design and Internet marketing. His first novel in the Bridge Chronicles series, Under the Amoral Bridge, was published in 2009 and has received critical acclaim. He currently lives with his wife and three insane dogs, while writing the next chapters in the Bridge Chronicles series.
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Bridge is accustomed to dealing with shady characters. But sending in a patsy, strapped with explosives, to make a deal for you is likely to grab Bridge's attention in all the wrong ways.
"The Long and the Short Swords" is the fourth novel in the Bridge Chronicles, of which I've enjoyed the previous novels.
Again we're in a near-future, where the government has leased the running of cities to various corporations, Chronosoft being the corporation running L.A. While the stories in the Bridge Chronicles are fairly wild, there is little doubt that the author puts forward the idea of leased governance as a plausible development. The concept is quite scary and Chronosoft represents a worst-case scenario.
In this novel, we see the gangs and violence escalating in the previous novel transformed into a commodity product, a top-rating reality TV show. There have been a few stories and movies serving as extreme examples of what reality TV could devolve into. Consider this to be another.
The story is one step too far for me in my enjoyment of the series. Previous books had a habit of pushing the envelope a bit. The introduction of the technomancers in the second novel was the first example of standing close to the edge. Mathematicians and scientists using advanced knowledge to be power-wielding magicians was initially a bit much to swallow. However, the third novel was solid and used technomancy without making everything about technomancers.
In this story, the author introduces mysticism in the form of ninja-like assassin clans with extraordinary abilities. Drop this ingredient into the mix and it all becomes a bit much. The action is still great and the initial storyline was still clever, drawing me in with a great opening. However, once the theme was revealed, it elicited a sigh rather than a gasp.
This story sees the return of several characters from previous novels. Artemis Bridge is the same slick fix-it guy and we are also entertained by returning co-stars Mu, the technomancer, Stonewall, the Los Magos gang leader and Aristotle, the philosopher bodyguard. Masa, katana-wielding gang leader of Asia Town also returns with a bigger role than in the prior stories.
Just like in the other novels, the characters elevate the story. The banter and the dynamic relationships make reading the adventures of Artemis Bridge fun.
Logan is the new kid on the block. A ninja-like assassin, he shares point-of-view responsibilities with Bridge. We get his life story and it's reasonably interesting given that he represents an element of the novel of which I'm not that fond.
The writing is punchy like in the previous books. I can't complain how the author gets his point across. I find his prose pleasurable to read and his style often draws a smile from me. I sometimes wonder if he is, in fact, Artemis Bridge; there's a cheeky sarcasm to the narrative that reminds me of the anti-hero.
This is apparently the last of the Bridge Chronicles. However, it is not the end of the world that the author has created. The evil Chronosoft is likely to make another appearance as the governing corporation of L.A. in a novel or series featuring totally different characters. I'm not saddened as I think Artemis Bridge has had a good run, the third novel probably being my favourite. So long, Bridge. If I need something I'll give you a call.
The Long and the Short Swords had a somewhat different composition than the others, in that it focused more on non-Bridge characters and its timeline didn't march uniformly forward. Ballard did it very well, however, and the story was engrossing and very entertaining - definitely worth the money.
The only reason I didn't give this book 5 stars was the ending. It's a good thing to leave your readers wanting more, but I was left with more of a 'wait, that's it?' feeling. On top of that, knowing the there will be no more Bridge for an extended period (or ever) left me more bewildered than satisfied with the ending.
Great book, though, you won't regret the money you spend on it!
I recommend all novels from this author, he gives more than a novel, he gives a message about what wil be our future if corporate control takes over, which is right now the direction we go to if we don't watch out.
thanks for these awesome books, WE WANT THE NEXT!!!