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The Worshippers and the Way (Chronicles of an Age of Darkness Volume 9) - Hugh Cook When the instructor at the Combat College is found dead, it is determined that Asodo Hatch and Lupus Lon Oliver, the two best Startroopers, will battle for the instructor position in three years time. But will they survive that long with revolution brewing and the religion of Nu-chula-nuth gaining a foothold?

Hugh Cook doing science fiction? In the Chronicles of an Age of Darkness? What gives? Well, this book reveals the truth about things long-hinted at in earlier volumes. The world Cook fashioned has lots of remnants of super science lying around and this book reveals where it all came from.

The Worshippers and the Way takes place in the far flung past of the Chronicles. It turns out the planet was once part of a transcosmic empire called The Nexus, but the Chasm Gate connected it to the rest of the Nexus was 20,000 years dead at the point this story begins. The story is only tangently related to the rest of the Chronicles, though Ebrell Island and The Hermit Crab are mentioned, as are the Golden Gulag. I'd say it's most tied to books 6 & 7.

Enough of the background, this is essentially the story of Asodo Hatch and Lupus Lon Oliver, two soldiers doing their duty and butting heads. Hatch is far more like the standard fantasy or sf hero than most of Hugh Cook's leads. He's the best of the best but Cook makes up for it by having his personal life be a damn mess. Lupus doesn't fare much better. By the end of the tale, it's very apparent how this story is related to the others.

Cook's humor is very apparent in this volume, as is how much effort he put into conceiving the world of Age of Darkness. I'd say there's more world building in this volume than any two other Chronicles put together. It's still good but it feels a bit bogged down at times. Also, I found the sf kind of jarring compared to the other chronicles, though it had to be done eventually.

Still, it had it's moments. How many stories have you read where someone is killed and a plastic bag of dog semen is found lodged in their throat? 3 stars, leaning slightly toward 4. It's by far at the tail end of my list of favorite Hugh Cook books.