In Richard Swan’s impressive debut book, Reclamation (part one of a trilogy), the human race is projected centuries into the future and is now governed by a conglomerate of human-controlled planets called the United Nations, headed by an obnoxious president. Alien races have been encountered and graded using a tier system, with humans taking a prominent role in Tier Three which is composed of races with similar technological development. However, humans are not the dominant force; a highly developed, insect-like race, the provar, are more powerful, certainly in numbers and with a military tech edge. The focus of the first part concerns the dramatic breakdown of relations between these civilisations and the rapid escalation of conflict.

Richard Swan’s great strength lies in his ability to write fantastic action sequences; these high-tech engagements read with clarity and fluency and often culminate in a chilling climax that lingers uncomfortably in your mind. These are certainly the highlights of the book and give the story an impetus that is perhaps lacking in some parts which seem overlong and repetitive. We are introduced to many characters in the book, mostly linked to the military or intelligence agencies of the United Nations, and although there is some attempt to provide character depth this sometimes feels half-hearted, making them difficult to empathise with; so, at times, engagement with the story is limited. Criticisms aside, the story is a good one which mostly grips and intrigues its audience.

The acid test is surely: do I want to read the next part? The answer is certainly yes. I’d like more interesting, less stereotypical characters, but I want more of those fluid action sequences, and I do care what happens to this possible future humanity.

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Length: 411 pages