A Review of
Patrick Lee's Breach Trilogy
By guest reviewer
In these days of overhyped, over-marketed,
multi-volume mega-series, it's hard to find a series of novels that truly
justifies their existence. It's all about branding and stretching stories out
to 1000s of pages for purely economic reasons is, sadly, the norm these days.
Patrick Lee's incredible Breach trilogy is the
exception to the rule.
In three of the best edge-of-your-seat thrill
rides this reader has ever had the pleasure to read, Lee gives us a New Pulp
trilogy for the ages. The novels are The Breach, Ghost Country and Deep
Sky and all three are lean, mean, thrill machines you do not want to
But enough hype. What is this rollicking trilogy
In the first novel, The Breach, we are
introduced to ex-con, ex-cop Travis Chase who is seeking to escape his past and
find solace in the frozen, isolated wastes of Alaska as he tries to decide what
to do with the rest of his life. That answer comes unexpectedly when he stumbles
upon a unmarked 747 that crashed in the frozen wasteland just days before. To
his surprise, no one has reached the wreck despite clear weather and the
proximity of the crash to the nearest town. Added to this mystery is the
discovery that the survivors of the crash have been tortured and killed,
including the First Lady who has left a note providing the location of the
torturers but also desperate instructions for whoever finds it to kill not only
the torturers but also the two remaining surviving passengers. Chase heads to
the scene but instead tries to rescue the two prisoners, a man and a woman. In
a great action sequence, he fails to save the man but manages to save the woman
who is critically injured during the battle.
The woman, Paige Campbell, it turns out, is an
agent of Tangent. Their goal is a simple one. They are trying to save the
world. Not from a terrorist plot, or from some unseen enemy representing a
shadowy, potential threat to the US or democracy. No, they are
literally, trying to save mankind from ultimate destruction.
Destruction by whom? Ah-ah. That would be
telling. But I will tell you this: Tangent agents are trusted to guard, examine
and study, The Breach, which is a form of wormhole that resulted when a
particle collider was tested back in 1978. Since that time, items have been
appearing on our side of the breach, items sometimes mundane, often
unfathomable, and often deadly dangerous with strange properties and powers.
Are they from the future? Another dimension? Are they the prelude to alien
invasion? No one knows. Called Brach Entities, the good guys need to keep these
items away from the bad guys.
That's the set up and I'll leave the first novel
here so as not to spoil the action. And there is a ton of great action in this
first installment despite the novel being somewhat hampered by the need to
introduce the above premise.
The action picks up in the next novel, Ghost
Country, which is the biggest and boldest entry in the trilogy. This
one kicks off with the President's motorcade being taken out. Now such a
sequence would normally be the climax of a great action tale but here Lee begins the tale with this breath-taking
action. And it's an indication of the action that is to come. Campbell, with mere seconds before capture,
must get a message to Chase telling him to retrieve a Breach Entity similar to
the one lost in the destroyed motorcade. Chase, who has left Tangent and Campbell for compelling
reasons set down in the first novel, has no choice but to re-involve himself with
Tangent and the Breach and sets out to find this second artifact.
This device turns out to be a means for the user
to jump ahead 73 years into the future - a future where mankind has been wiped
out by a Breach entity. To reveal more would be to spoil the biggest, boldest,
grandest entry in the series.
Put simply, once you pick up Ghost
Country you will not put it down. It is filled with trips through time,
government conspiracies, action galore, heroism and sacrifice and enough left
over to set up the third and final novel.
Deep Sky is much smaller in
scale and tone although the main mystery remains intact and there is still tons
of action. Reading it after Ghost Country, however, may seem
like something of a letdown because of this scaling back and, really, there is
only one thing that can elevate the work: and that's the revealing of what the
Breach is while wrapping up the various plot threads. The world is still
ticking down to destruction and here the baddies are taking out anyone
associated with the Breach and this is all compelling stuff. But it's the
secret of the Breach that will either make or break the book after the
compelling first novel and the exemplary Ghost Country. I, too, was somewhat
taken aback by the approach in Deep Sky. Don't get me wrong, as a
standalone work, it is an action thrill-ride but after Country the action paled
somewhat even though I was still feverishly turning pages.
This brings us to the secret of the Breach
itself. No, I'm not telling. It would be a crime to spoil the fun for readers.
Here Lee is faced with the problem of all mystery-driven fare: how to come up
with an explanation that will wow readers who have had the time, over the
course of the previous two novels, to theorize and come up with their own
explanation for the ultimate secret. Obviously it is impossible to satisfy
every reader in this situation. As for this reader, no stranger to this type of
story, the reveal blew my mind. I never, in a million years, saw it coming and
it truly surprised me. All in a good way. That said, and for the reasons stated
above, your mileage may vary when Lee draws back the curtain. All I can say is
that it worked for me and I was left in awe after reading the last page.
Needless to say I've got an eye out for the next Patrick Lee book. The Breach
trilogy is simply brilliant.
Story aside, a word about the presentation of
the work is in order. Spread over three novels, the 1168 pages of the trilogy
could just as easily been presented as a single, large work and shelling out for
three novels might put some readers off. However now that all three books have
been released, readers can avoid the frustration of being left hanging while
awaiting the next installment. This is a series you will want to devour. The
books are available for Kindle but, given that these are released by mainstream
publishers (Harper Collins) the ebooks are ridiculously overpriced and are
actually more expensive than printed copies. But they are an option for those
who prefer reading that way.
For me, the money I spent on the Breach trilogy
was money well spent. I was glued to my chair, slicing my fingers to shreds
turning pages long past bed time. Some of the best New Pulp writing on the
market today. I loved it!
ANDREW SALMON – is one of the finest New Pulp
writers in the field today, having won the Pulp Factory Award for Best Short
Story of 2009. He resides in Vancouver, Canada
with is wife.