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Sly Mongoose Hardcover – August 19, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
Book 3 of 4 in the Xenowealth Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Buckell returns to the universe of Crystal Rain (2006) and Ragamuffin (2007) for another action-packed story of human colonists fighting to survive on an alien world with all the odds against them. The story bounces between two protagonists: teenage Timas, one of the few inhabitants of the floating spherical city of Yatapek who can maintain the enormous mining machine that harvests ore from the furnace-hot surface of Venus-like Chilo, and Pepper, aka Juan Smith, an elite Ragamuffin soldier from New Anegada who'd prefer to forget about his violent past. As the only survivor of a ship infected with a virus that turns people into murderous zombie slaves of the alien Swarm, the last thing Pepper wants is another fight, but with the Swarm making inroads on Chilo, he has little choice. Buckell delivers double helpings of action and violence in a plot-driven story worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. (Aug.)
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From Booklist

Chilo is a world of high pressure, intense heat, and acidic rain, in which domed cities float above the clouds, where the pressure and temperature are survivable. Timas, 14, supports his family by going down to the surface in one of the few remaining groundsuits to repair the mining head vital to the city’s survival. When Timas’ city is damaged by a messenger crashing into it, everything he knew is turned upside down. The crasher, Pepper, who survives, alerts Chilo to approaching zombie invaders. Then the high-tech Aeolians send Katerina to demand that Pepper be turned over to them for trial on charges of destroying a starship. But something is hidden on Chilo’s surface that is worth starting a war for. Timas, Katerina, and Pepper must lead the struggle to survive the invasion, and in the process all undergo unexpected changes and learn the true extent of their capabilities. Buckell’s world building, full of strong Aztec and Caribbean elements, is spectacular; the story, finely tuned and engrossing. --Regina Schroeder
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (August 19, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765319209
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765319203
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,381,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By H. Grove (errantdreams) TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Sly Mongoose is set several generations after Ragamuffin, and our old friend Pepper is back in the middle of the latest crisis. As always the alien machinery inside of him has caused him to outlast and outlive everyone around him, so he's the only character you'll remember from previous books. The descendants of the Azteca fled New Anegada and their alien masters, and now live in floating cities set about a deadly planet called Chilo.

One of the things I love about Buckell's work is that his books in this series have enough similarity of style, exploration, themes, etc. (not to mention the fantastic character of Pepper!) to satisfy someone who's looking for more of 'the same'. However, each one is also quite different from the previous books, so you certainly won't feel bored with the material! Each book takes place some time after the previous one, in this case several generations later. Each book explores a different part of the universe, although at the same time it takes on the consequences of previous plots. So there's a ton of new material while also a few familiar threads to hold onto. This also means that the books can stand alone, although you'll have an easier time following some things if you know what came before.

The characters are complex and interesting. As usual it could be argued that Pepper is actually not the main character, although perhaps he is more so in Sly Mongoose than in the last two books. This is a great approach, because Pepper's certainly not your standard hero, nor even your standard anti-hero, and it's often both useful and important to see events through other people's eyes as well.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An intense debate over how to deal with illegal aliens... a virus corrupting the results of electronic voting... a runaway greenhouse effect... This would sound like something out of current headlines, if not for the zombies. Everything is better with zombies.

Buckell returns to the universe of his previous 2 novels and humanity is still misplacing it's resentment toward its (now former) alien overlords by finding new and exciting ways of killing each other. The setting is what initially sets this book apart from your average adventure filled science fiction yarn. The caustic Venus like atmosphere of Chilo offers us a dizzying array of floating cities, air ships, clockwork dragons, but the people that choose to live on Chilo give the story its soul.

If you've read the Crystal rain, you'll recognize the Azteca. If you've read Ragamuffin you'll recognize the Consensus as an extrapolation of democracy enabled by the Lamina technology. If you've read either, you'll love seeing Pepper in action. If this is the first book you read by Buckell, it'll definitely entice you to read the previous books.
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Format: Hardcover
The reason this book is still on my mind is that it shows the pros and cons of the opposites of democratic choice. On the one hand are the Aeolians who vote on absolutely everything, all the time. On the other are the Yatapekians who use a more traditional patriachal structure to get things done. But when an imminent threat arrives both people drag their feet trying to figure out what to do about it. That part of the plot struck me as insightful. Even in the face of clear and present danger some people dither around.

So the plot was good but the book is full of cliches, as others have pointed out. I leave you with two things: the main bad-ass character actually acts like a bad-ass and often sacrifices others, or others' opinions of him, to get to a positive solution for the whole. To the point of quickly killing someone when he could have probably just restrained them during a fight. He's totally a take-no-prisoners kind of guy. If there is no point in keeping a threat alive, he doesn't. On the downside, when the ragamuffin-types talk using pidgin (broken English) it's annoying. I know the author is from the Caribbean but it's annoying down there too. And it seems like the "talk" slipped a few times into the editing of the regular paragraph descriptions. And THAT is one of my biggest pet peeves: bad editing.

Still, it's a fun, easy read. I probably would have loved it as a 13 or 14-year-old. Now as a 30 something, it's a decent way to pass a few nights instead of watching bad T.V.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Tobias Buckell's third entry in his Xenowealth series is arguably the tightest and most accessible of them all, and might even be a better starting point for new readers than Crystal Rain/Ragamuffin. From the intense nail-biter of a opening scene to its very satisfying conclusion, Buckell puts one of his best characters, Pepper, in a thrilling, high stakes situation that includes floating cities, political intrigue, intergalactic war, and zombies. Yes, zombies! Two kinds, actually; both subtly imaginative spins on the concept that work.

In the midst of an exciting story filled with engaging characters, Buckell also flexes his impressive world-building muscles to further flesh out the fascinating Xenowealth setting, and of the three books, this one offers the best foundation for a movie that would expose Avatar for the shallow, hamfisted hackery it was. Recommended.
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