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The Penal Colony by [Herley, Richard]
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The Penal Colony Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 388 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Only violent criminals are brought to the island penal colony of Sert. Gunships circle the waters. There are no warders and no rules. There is only the Community, which provides a rigidly imposed order in exchange for a modicum of security and comfort. Madmen and sociopaths roam beyond the gates. Into this world descends Anthony John Routledge, sentenced for a crime he did not commit. Before Routledge is permitted to join the Community, he survives assault, attempted buggery, and murder, and kills three men. Then, the elders draft him to work on a plan to escape. They succeed, achieving victory both against those who condemned them and the barbarians who wait outside the gates to destroy them. A gripping novel, as thriller or novel of ideas. David Keymer, SUNY Coll. of Technology, Utica
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 837 KB
  • Print Length: 311 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publication Date: November 22, 1987
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004VTHSA6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #505,515 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Intelligently written, with believable characters and dialogue. A decent, mild-mannered man who has taken the modern, civilized man's life of relative ease and convenience for granted is thrust into a world of depravity and violence, and must learn how to survive. And he learns much more besides. It was good enough that I will seek out more work by this author. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book, especially for the current $3 price.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The first time I read The Penal Colony was 1998 or so; I spotted a well-used paperback copy in a pile of abandoned belongings at a college dormitory. I took it, began to read, and was instantly absorbed. I was blown away by the story, the characters, and through it all the language: sometimes sharp and precise, other times poetic, always compelling and memorable. I consider myself a fairly well-read person, in terms of classic literature as well as modern best-sellers, and without hesitation, I put The Penal Colony on my "Desert Island List" of ten books that I would take with me to my own exile on Sert.

Up until a few years ago, this book was hard to find: out of print (at least in the USA), and precious little information available on the internet. Now it's available as an e-book here on Amazon, and it's an absolute gem of a book. The ideas, situations and characters will stay with you for life.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The title suggested more of fiction tilted toward a mans type of novel, but I found myself caught up in this engaging novel and could not put it down. A couple of times the story was a little technical so I just skipped it, but that might be what really seals the deal for you if you are into boat building details. I did really enjoy the way the story was well thought out and the characters were real to me.. a great original story.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I don't usually write reviews, but I really want to get the word out about this book. I was so very surprised with what I read. This is some beautiful writing and a wonderfully choreographed plot. I was expecting thriller fluff and was pleasantly gifted with an excellent novel.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've had this on my Kindle for almost two years now and just got around to reading it: I wish I had picked this up sooner as it was really good!

The author does a great job of quickly getting you into the head and situations of the main character and I could literally envision the scenery and characters as if I was right there, and with the various scenes throughout I felt as if I was an actual participant. While describing a penal colony situation that is not known in the present time, the author paints the story and situation as if it were real - you feel the sadness, anger, joys, and other emotions of the characters as they do their best to survive in a bad situation.

The ending did come a little abrupt, and there is a possibility with the ending of a sequel. I hope so, as I had a difficult time putting this one down and stayed up really late one night to finish it.

I originally picked this up for free during a Kindle promotion and, as I type this review, I see the book is still free vs. its normal price of $3.99. Even if it reverts back to full price, I believe you will receive a heck of a lot more entertainment value than $3.99 from this one.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Just finished this book last night and I loved it. It was extremely readable with engaging characters you can really become involved with. Has elements of society building AKA "Lord of the Flies", combined with great action throughout. There are a couple of areas that are left a little hazy especially when reading about pre-Sert relationships among a couple of the primary characters.

The writing was descriptive without being overkill, and the story really is compelling. I found myself ignoring or setting aside other activities as I wanted to find out what was going to happen next. I highly recommend this book, I give it 4.5 stars.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This was an odd read, and I'm not sure if I mean this as a compliment or not. I own the movie that resulted from Penal Colony, called No Escape, so I figured that I had a handle on the premise (contrary to most reviewers here, I like No Escape).....but quickly found out that the other than the island itself and some generic names, the two have little in common. It's not as totally seperate as Wag the Dog and American Hero were, but pretty close.

The protagonist of the story is Routledge, an English surveyor sentenced to life in prison for a murder that he claims he didn't commit (I won't spoil whether he did it or not), and soonthereafter finds himself on Sert, a prison island off the coast of Cornwall. Sert is divided between the Insiders, who live in a village and retain some semblance of society, with rigid rules and a hierarchy.....and the Outsiders, who aren't united, and rape and kill each other with regular frequency. The Insiders make up for their lack of numbers with their organization, and Routledge, after escaping a band of Outsiders who capture him, slowly assimilates himself into the Insiders and finds himself.

And that's the point of the story, Routledge figuring out what he's capable of and who he is. The other characters are nothing more than foils for him, and the most potentially interesting of the bunch, Martinson (the putative antagonist), is given short shrift, appearing almost haphazardly here and there.

The strange part of the novel is that so much takes place off page.......including almost all of the action. Rape is mentioned, but never shown, battles are fought, but never seen on page. Other than a bit of language, the book almost qualifies for a PG rating, if books had such ratings.
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