Humans have all but destroyed the Earth, creating an opportunity for unscrupulous moneymakers to take advantage of the destruction. One family, the Ciejek clan, have made their fortune exploiting Earth’s misfortunes. But with power comes corruption. The members of the Ciejek clan are at each other’s throats, enlisting the help of the fearsome Predators to settle the score… When the Predators arrive, however, the brutality the warriors unleash is far beyond what the Ciejek family could have imagined.
Flesh and Blood has been a long time coming. Originally slated for release in March, the novel was pushed back God knows how many times. And during all this time, the Alien series has managed to churn out two more novels! Well, better late than never I suppose. Flesh and Blood is the second in the Predator series, with another two known to be following next year. Written by Michael Jan Friedman and Robert Greenberger, Flesh and Blood follows on from Shirley’s previous novel in that it keeps it in the future.
Some might feel that the future setting is a little out of place for the Predator and it did, at times, feel a little weird in Forever Midnight. But something about Flesh and Blood helped it seem more natural. Not once was I questioning the jump into the future and to be honest, I think it all roots into the characters and the way they acted – both human and Hish. In some ways, it took some advice from Alien in that it omitted use of futurist technology and etc. It was all there, it was just all taken for granted or in some cases, useless. The only real piece of futurist technology that was prominent was a laser gun which was so useless it was barely used. This helped to keep the focus away from all the space age technology and on the story and the characters within.
The story revolves around blood feuds, within family or clan. Basically, after the death of their grandfather, the business the Ciejek family owns is to be passed onto one of two cousins: Andar or Derek. Both two very different people. Andar left his family because he found out what they actually did to people and the worlds they owned: They raped, they exploited. Derek, however, is very much a Ciejek. The same is paralleled by the Hish side of the novel. We find ourselves with a group of hunters, made from two clans that are unable to join together and reconcile their own traditions.
The characters really helped this novel stand out. As of the writing of this review, I have already read and reviewed the latest entry into the Alien series, Steel Egg and my biggest complaint in that novel was the severe lack of character development. Flesh and Blood has it in the bucket loads. The first good chunk of chapters were dedicated to the characters and to slowly setup what was coming. The right amount of backstory beforehand plus some built up tension equals excellently executed novel equals reader being mucho happy. Grande smile.
One particular part of the novel I really enjoyed was before all the shit hit the fan. We’ve arrived at the planet, everyone is at a meal type thing before the reading of the will which, as far as everyone there is concerned, will decide the rest of their life. Up to this point we’d never met Derek, only learnt of him through Andar and his lawyer who accompanies him. So here I was, expecting some bastard of a man to great his cousin. What I got was a friendly man, talking to all his men as if they were family and to his cousin like he really loved him. And I brought into it. Of course, Derek was an asshole but it was moments like that really had me buying into these characters and the writing of Friedman and Greenberger.
Now one of the more “controversial” aspects of the preceding Predator novel, Forever Midnight, was the introduction of a new version of the Predator culture: The Hish. This radical change in the approach to the inner workings of the Predator – it’s for fun this time like it was in the original movies, not for honor like in the Perry’s version and to some extent, the AvP movies. Given the uproar it caused within the Yautja fans – so only really the fans of the whole hunt for honor concept – it was a wise choice for the authors to downplay the Hish in Flesh and Blood.
It was done very differently in that in Flesh and Blood the Hish don’t actually speak. All our interaction with the Hish is done via one particular Hish: Bet-Karh. Specifically, done from within his mind throughout the entire novel. At first I thought it might get old and fast but gladly this wasn’t the case. Due to the ever changing situation and how the group of Hish were interacting and conflicting with each other, my mind left thinking about the delivery methods and took more notice on the content as it should have.
My only real complaint about the novel is the length. At 240 pages this is the shortest Alien / Predator novel from DH Press. It didn’t really present a problem until the end when the conclusion felt a bit short and unsatisfying. In some ways, it was good in terms of the characters but it felt rather abrupt and unpleasing. I just didn’t feel I got a good enough conclusion. It focused too much on the Hish character rather than following up on the humans and how the survivors felt and what happened to them after. Now understandably there were a few problems with this novel – if I recall right, the first manuscript was handed in around the original release date and obviously this caused time problems with editing and etcetera.
DH Press has been publishing these new Alien and Predator novels for about two years now. The Alien novels have had their ups and downs, the sole Predator novel being the equivalent to marmite for the Predator fanbase but this has to be the best novel out there. And from what I’ve seen of responses from the fanbase, that seems to be the consensus. I’d recommend this novel to any Predator fan out there – whether they love Perry’s Yautja, Shirley’s Hish or just a passing Predator fan, this is one for them. Be sure to pick this one up. From Hicks here at AvPGalaxy, I award this novel a solid 4.7 and if it wasn’t for my disappointment with the ending it’d be a solid 5.