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The Rosetta Codex

by Richard Paul Russo

(Orbit, £6.99, 375 pages, paperback, published December 2005.)

Review by Ann Moore

cover scanPlot: The Discovered Artefact.

Nicely written, rather a lot of characters but covers a large time span and characters are properly introduced and disposed of so in each sequence there are not too many to remember. Plot is a bit inconsequential.

The story -- Cale, the hero is heir to a major trading family in the universe. When he is five his father's trading ship is attacked and he and his nurse, Sidonie, the only survivors, escape to Conrad's world. Here they fall short of safe haven in the city of Morningstar and Cale is brought up by outlaws who treat him as a slave. Sidonie is left for dead.

Cale grows up, unable to read or write, escapes from the first group of outlaws to another where he is befriended by a trader from Morningstar, Blackburn. Blackburn explains that Cale is in outlaw territory, separated from Morningstar by the divide, a vast chasm over which there is a bridge to the city. Cale can pass this bridge if his DNA shows he is not an outlaw. Although he mistrusts Blackburn, Cale eventually starts out for Morningstar. On the way he over-winters with a Resurrectionist, one of a group who are trying to discover more about the creatures who lived on the planet before man colonised it. He continues his journey to Morningstar and meets a man who is trying to discover a treasure, which comprises some rocks which shine blue and the codex of the title hidden in a village which has been sacked.

The end, like the rest of the book is slightly off centre and lacking any real strength.

Analysis: this was interesting, inventive but smacked slightly of "Stargate". Normally in a book that centres on a priceless artefact, you have other parties pursuing it with grim determination. This was strangely feeble, the pursuit not up to the game. Certainly worth reading, although when you come to the end you wonder "Why?" Perhaps you are intended to.

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