dark intelligence book coverReviewed by Caleb Shadis

Dark Intelligence is the first book in a new series called Transformation in the Polity Universe. The book begins by introducing Thorvald Spear in a virtual resurrection room. He has just been resurrected from his recently recovered memory implant. Apparently, he was found sitting in a jewelry store window set in a nice brooch.

After going through his acclimation process he has a chance to absorb his last memories and it leaves him with a need to revenge himself and his friends. It appears his last days with his friends were on a planet fighting against the Prador. One of their own ships carpet bombed the stronghold and wiped out the whole unit. This and some other not so pleasant memories coming back to him leave him with a burning hatred for one Penny Royal, a rogue AI. He adjusts to being resurrected 100 years after his death pretty fast–spurred on by his desire to return the favor to Penny Royal.

Thorvald needs information to track this rather enigmatic AI. Being out of commission for a 100 years leaves one with some rather outdated info. While digging for information on Penny Royal, Thorvald finds many stories about the AI, showing that she was not idle while he was indisposed. One of her victims/supplicants/treasure seekers was Isobel Satomi, a rather important up and coming crime boss. She went to Penny Royal requesting help and she got what she asked for, though not exactly what she wanted.

Penny Royal has a reputation of being able to supply whatever one wants, for a price. Almost the genie in the bottle. However, her deals often have a very Mephistophelian bent. If you aren’t careful, you get exactly what you wish for. Thorvald learns that Isobel was one who got more than she bargained for and he approaches her with promises of reversing the problems, as payment for services she can render.

Dark Intelligence is a very interesting book and Penny Royal is a “chess player” like none other. She always seems to be three steps ahead of everyone else. I enjoyed listening to this book and found myself eager to get the next one in the series to see where things will lead to. It did have a good story arch and one could stop with this book, but why? While this is decent sci-fi, I think it is a great twisted mystery and worthy of a read–or a listen.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Audible.com. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.