The PV-3 Mutagen
The PV-3 Mutagen
by Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus
3.5 out of 5
As a history scholar and courier for the secretive Circle of Thales, Rene Laurent is a man of many talents - none of them lending themselves much to a life of adventure.
But when a chance meeting with a young, idealistic Belligra priest drags him into a wild quest to keep a dangerous mutagen off the streets of Floor, his curiosity gets the better of him. Between monsters both human and man-made, he realises that maybe fieldwork is more of his game than he had ever thought possible...
Written by Rainbow-Award-winning authors Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus, 'The PV-3 Mutagen' is a colourful non-romance sci-fi adventure set in the wildly diverse 'Virasana Empire', and the first novel of the 'Doctor Laurent' series.
Rene is a native to the Floor and knows how this profit-driven world works. When naive Brother Riccardo shows up with a mission to help people, they are going to have to work together.
I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Although this is the first book in this series, it is set in the authors' already-established Virsana Empire. I didn't feel at a disadvantage for coming into the story at this point, as it builds this section of the empire well.
Rene is part of the Circle of Thales, a secret society deep beneath the streets of Floor. He is intelligent, has an almost photographic memory; and has a secret. He has psionic abilities, he can sense living creatures, and heal himself and others by taking their injuries into himself.
His abilities don't follow the norm for psionic skills, and Rene knows that if anyone outside the Circle found out, he'd be shipped off and experimented on.
Brother Riccardo has recently completed his Belligra training - the warrior branch of the church, and the young man is on a mission to help people across the empire.
When he first arrives on Floor, he saves Rene from some thugs, and insists on fixing every problem he can, as he travels through.
With Rene's recommendation, they head underground into the thriving but poor community that live in the sewers. It turns out that people have been disappearing, but as it doesn't affect the profits of Floor, no one outside is willing to help.
What follows is a search and destroy mission, to find the mutated monsters who are plaguing the sewers, and the human monsters behind them.
This is listed as a Space Opera, which I don't think is entirely accurate for this first book, which is set solely on Floor, and only mentions other planets. The rest of the series might take things further afield.
Instead, this was a very solid Sci-Fi. It focuses on Rene's home of Floor, and I don't think that's a bad thing. The world-building was great.
We learn about how things work in this world, where the corporations make the rules, and everyone else just tries to get by with life. The society is well-established, with all the rules and expectations, shown perfectly against Riccardo's naivety of the whole process.
(p.s. I can't go without mentioning the food. I can't remember when I last read something with such a love for food! Although I'll pass on the spicy N'Ptalini cuisine!)
I really liked the friendship that grows between Rene and Riccardo. It's refreshing that our LGBTQ lead character doesn't have a romantic storyline. Rene thinks Riccardo is attractive, but that's as far as it goes.
The friendship is really sweet. Rene has spent his whole life pushing people away, and he's surprised when he connects with this hulking Belligra.
I found the story was overly detailed. I guess it's in keeping with Rene's encyclopedic knowledge, but every little thing was analysed and described, and history given, and technical uses. From food, to weapons, to mobile phones.
There was also a lot of repetition of this information. Rene would think about something in great depth, and then he'd tell Riccardo about it.
This really slowed down the narration, and affected some of the more exciting scenes. It was hard to keep excited about a minor fight when it went on for several pages.
With how slow and detailed everything was, I felt that the story reached a natural conclusion at 50%, when they defeat the konchi.
Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy the second half, I thought the writing got smoother and the characters developed better. I did feel that the mutated animals moved into the background. The second creature felt a bit rushed and dismissed.
Overall, this was 3.5 out of 5 for me. I enjoyed this and would be interested in continuing the series.