Shadowrun, all novels

Shadowrun Novels, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

 

Shadowrun, all novels

In a twist to the normal articles about games and gaming, I’d write something about one of the purest forms of fluff that exists in any game setting, it’s line of accompanying novels. First up, probably my 2nd favourite line of fantasy novel, Shadowrun.

Now, before I get into it, I feel it’s worth pointing out that I realise that Shadowrun novels are never going to win any awards, they are masterful works of fiction and they aren’t going to revolutionise the genre. They are trashy, pulp sci-fi novels, of average quality at best, but that doesn’t mean I love them any less , in fact it might just make me love them that bit more because they know what they are they don’t hide it or pretend to be anything different, in fact them embrace it.

I’m not going to go into a huge amount of detail about each book, I’ll give a brief synopsis, my opinion if I have anything to add and then  rating, out of 5.  This will also just include, for now, the dead tree format releases and not the ebooks and enhanced fiction stories. If i haven’t read a book i’ll say so and I’ll update the list as and when I read them.

Into the Shadows, Trade Paprback Cover

Into the Shadows– Original Trade Paperback- The book that started it all. This is an anthology of loosely linked stories, one of which, was later developed into the first book in the Secrets of Power trilogy. It’s not a bad novel but it feels different in tone from the Shadowrun that came later. Image courtesy of http://shadowrun.wikia.com/2.0 Stars (2.0 / 5)

Never Deal With a Dragon, cover

Never Deal with a Dragon– The first in the Secrets of Power trilogy and adapted from the short story Into the Shadows in the previous anthology. It follows the extraction of the wageslave Sam Verner from Renraku and his introduction to the SINless world of Shadowrunners while searching for his sister. This is the book that started my love of Shadowrun and is a key book for anyone who wants to properly understand the horrific dystopian world of 2051.It also introduces several characters and themes that continue to develop in the setting up to the present day.3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)

Choose Your Enemies Carefully, Cover

Choose Your Enemies Carefully– The second Secrets of Power novel. Sam continues his search for his sister and his own power grows as Sam begins to understand his true nature as a Shaman. Again, not terrible and it certainly conveys the grim tone of 2050. Being English, I like the fact that even this early in the Shadowrun line, England is developed.3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)

Find Your Own Truth, cover

Find your Own Truth– The third and and final in the Secrets of Power trilogy. Sam undertakes a powerful magic ritual and reenacts the Great Ghost Dance, the event which kickstarted the Awakening in order to save his sister. A magnificently epic end to the series of books and one that really helps to introduce people to the power that can be unleashed by those with the will to do it.3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)

2XS, Cover

2XS- The first book about Dirk Montgomery and the first book by the best of the Shadowrun authors, Nigel Findley. Dirk is a PI who gets drawn into a plot involving a Megacorporation and an other worldly menace. Not only does the book contain the introduction of dirk but it also introduces the legendary Argent and his team The Wrecking Crew. Fantastic novel that really introduces the threat of Insect Spirits into the setting.5.0 Stars (5.0 / 5)

Changeling, Cover

Changeling– Life as growing up and as a Shadowrunner from the perspective of a human that becomes a Troll. This is an interesting look at the setting as it shows what kind of prejudice a human that goblinizes Troll is subjected to. Overall it’s an average book but with an interesting twist as it is set in both 2039 and 2052.3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)

Never Trust an Elf, Cover

Never Trust an Elf– This follows one of the characters from the Secrets of Power, Kham, the ork as he gets drawn into a plot involving powerful else an even more powerful dragons. This book also contains a bit of a cameo from Dodger, another of the characters in the Secrets of Power trilogy and possibly the best decker in the world. Despite the characters and the subject matter, I didn’t like this one, I found it hard to read and a struggle to get through.2.0 Stars (2.0 / 5)

Into The Shadows, cover

Into The Shadows– This is a reprint of the Trade Paperback book. The story, Into the Shadows has been changed for another named A Plague of Demons.3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)

Streets of Blood, cover

Streets of Blood- The first Serrin Shamander and Lord Geraint Llanfechfa novel. This one is set in England in 2054. Honestly, I haven’t read it so I can’t comment any more than that as to how good it is.

Shadowplay, Cover

Shadowplay– Another Nigel Findley novel. The main characters, Sly and Falcon, get embroiled in a plot between Megacorporations that has it’s history grounded in the Crash of 28 and threatens to grow into all out Corporate war. Another great read and one of the better books in the series, i like the fact that it goes into some detail about Cheyenne in the Sioux Nation as this area hasn’t ever really been deeply expanded beyond Native American Nations (1/2?) and the recent Cheyenne in Focus.4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

Night's Pawn, cover

Nights Pawn– Getting out the shadows is never easy, as Jason Chase can attest, Megacorporations and interfamily conflict seem to get in the way. This one covers area’s around Denver, as well as travelling to a few other locations in North America and details some of the lesser know professions in Shadowrun, such as smuggling and Coyotes across the American/Aztlan boarder.3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)

Striper Assassin, cover

Striper Assassin– Striper first appeared in Into the Shadows and then again in the Secrets of Power trilogy. Striper is a were-tiger and an accomplished assassin. This is primarily a revenge plot story set in Philadelphia that provides an interesting insight into the mind of a Shadowrun shapeshifter. I struggled reading this because of the bizarre present tense that it is written in but Striper is a fascinating character and the primal nature of Shadowrun shapeshifters is interesting to explore.2.0 Stars (2.0 / 5)

Lone Wolf, cover

Lone Wolf– Shadowrun from the other side of the law, at least partly, as Lone Star cop Rick Larson takes center stage. As you can expect, something goes wrong and Rick ends up being hunter by Lone Star and needing to resort to getting help from the very people he usually tries to bring down, Shadowrunners. Argent shows up in this one again as does Dirk Montgomery for a very brief cameo. The story in this book actually links, subtly with Nigel Findley’s previous offering, 2XS and with the excellent Shadowrun Retuns game, by Harebrained Schemes.4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

Fade to Black, cover

Fade to Black– The first real foray into New York state as an extraction goes wrong for the runner team and they end up being hunter by a private military firm and a number of AAA and AA Megacorporations. Some really interesting background into Newark and the various zones it’s divided into as well as some interesting uses and explanations of ritual magic.4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

Nosferatu, cover

Nosferatu– The second Serrin Shamander story. This is another I haven’t read so I can’t speak as to the subject or quality of the novel.

Burning Bright, cover

Burning Bright– Kyle Teller, a mage gets hired to find the missing son of a CEO in Chicago, 2055. As the plot unfurls on of the biggest events in the Shadowrun timeline takes place as a huge Insect Spirit hive is uncovered and Ares Macrotechnology utilise drastic measures to destroy it, resulting in the legendary Cermak Blast and the creation of the Chicago Containment Zone. This is a great book, easily one of the best in the entire Shadowrun line. Not only does it describe a landmark point in the history of the setting but it also provides great insight into Spirits, and their motives, as well as summoning and the Astral Plane.5.0 Stars (5.0 / 5)

Who Hunts the Hunter, cover

Who Hunts the Hunter– The second of the Striper novels. Striper seeks to hunt down those who stole her cub and exact her revenge. This is the first book to truly introduce New York in any detail and it provides further insight into the mind of shapeshifters while asking the age old question of whether man is the most evil of all beasts. This book also see’s the return of Bandit, a shaman from Fade to Black. This is certainly better than the first Striper novel and, despite still being written in 1st person, present tense, is an easier read.3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)

House of the Sun, cover

House of the Sun– The second Dirk Montgomery story and the last Shadowrun novel written by Nigel Findley. Dirk repays an old debt and travels to the Kingdom of Hawaii only to fall afoul of warring factions in the corporations, the government and the rebels who just so happen to be lad by a dragon. The book has a very different tone to 2XS, owing to the fact that Hawaii is bright and sunny, but this is still an excellent book and is easily the equal of 2XS. I apologise about the state of the cover for this picture, my copy suffered an unfortunate accident and I’m in the process of trying to replace it.5.0 Stars (5.0 / 5)

Worlds Without End, cover

World Without End– Aina, an immortal elf, faces down a Millenia old enemy who has resurfaced in the sixth world. This book was originally meant to be the conclusions to a trilogy known as The Immortals, which was to start with 2 Earthdawn novels, Scars and Little Treasures but Little Treasures was never published and Scars was only published after Worlds Without End. it’s not a bad book but if you don’t have any interest in the Immortal Elf metaplot then it won’t interest you at all. It’s nice to see Tir Na Nog make an appearance in a book and I’m a big fan of Harlequin so I liked it but it’s still only part of a story.3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)

Just Compensation, Cover

Just Compensation– Upstanding citizens Andy and Tom become try to uncover a secret plot that lies at the very heart of UCAS Government and Military and need to turn to shadowrunners for help. I don’t know whether it’s Robert Charrette’s writing or the story but I struggled with this, as I did with Never Trust an Elf. Charrette clearly knows the subject matter well and cares about it but I found reading this book slow going.3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)

Black Madonna, cover

Black Madonna– The third Serrin Shamander novel. Another I haven’t read.

Preying For Keep, cover

Preying for Keeps– Shadowrunners are brought in to retrieve data stolen from a corporation but get drawn into a deeper plot involving corporate war and organised crime. The first really pulpy Shadowrun novel. If any book seems to demonstrate the change from the dark and gritty Pink Mohawk style of 1st and 2nd edition to the more Black Trench coat style of 3rd edition, its this. It actually a lot of fun to read and the runners feel more like action movie stars at times than the beaten down SINless of earlier offerings.4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

Dead Air, cover

Dead Air– Corruption is rife in all elements of life in the sixth world, even in the ruthless and bloody sport of Combat Biking. This isn’t a great book but it gets points for taking a look at a hitherto untouched aspect of the setting, it’s sports. Shadowrun is practically unique in that even it’s sports are detailed and have rulesets made for them and so having a novel with central characters who are star athletes adds some extra depth to the setting overall. 3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)

The Lucifer Deck, cover

The Lucifer Deck– Magic and machines mix again as a corporate experiment goes wrong and an extra dimensional demon into the world. One of the things I like most about Shadowrun is the level of detail that applies to the world, it’s probably the most chronicled single setting ever created but every now and then something happens that seems completely at odds with everything that seems to be known and this is one of those times. This is a poor book, it tries to do something different by introducing a demon/spirit of light that can travel down fibre-optic cables and effect the matrix but it feels like fan fiction more than an official novel. It’s one saving grace is that is shows the racial prejudices that are rife in Shadowrun and despite how common it is in the setting it’s not often touched upon in the fluff.2.0 Stars (2.0 / 5)

Steel Rain, cover

Steel Rain– Another book that I haven’t read.

Shadowboxer, cover

Shadowboxer– A run goes south for Adam Two-Bears as he tries to track down the meaning of the word ‘IronHell’. Set in and around Miami this books detail another location that isn’t particularly well detailed in the fluff. It’s an average book that has an completely unexpected twist part way through that is both fascinating and utterly bizarre.3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)

Stranger Souls, cover

Stranger Souls– The first book of the Dragonheart Saga. In the wake of the assassination of President Dunkelzahn, a Great Dragon, his personal team of shadowrunners, Assets Incorporated, investigate who could have killed Dunkelzahn and why. You’ll either love or hate this as it’s less Shadowrun and more superheroes on steroids. The book ties in with the events of the Shadowrun Campaigns, Super Tuesday and Harlequin’s Back and leads into Portfolio of a Dragon, Dunkelzahn’s Will.4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

Headhunters, cover

Headhunters– A sequel to Preying for Keeps, featuring the same team. This time Jack Slater and his team are hired to steal a corpse from a funeral home but they are not the only people who want the body and all is not as it seems. This is darker and grittier in feel than the first book but doesn’t manage to be quite as good. Parts are set in the Ork Underground and it’s nice to actually hear some descriptions of that iconic Seattle location.4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

Clockwork Asylum, Cover

Clockwork Asylum– The second book in the Dragonheart Saga. The story of uber runner Ryan mercury continues as he continues in his quest to find Dunkelzahn’s killer. At the same time a Cyberzombie, inhabited by a powerful free spirit blames Ryan for the death and looks to enact revenge all against the backdrop of the rising power of Aztechnology. As with the first book it’s stupid in scale and power but the events of the book should not be overlooked as it has a significant impact on the setting as a whole.4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

Blood Sport, cover

Blood Sport- Another book I have not read.

Beyond the Pale, cover

Beyond the Pale- The third and final book in the Dragonheart Saga. The trilogy reaches it’s suitably epic conclusion as Ryan and Assets Incorporated, along with a few new friends in the form of Harlequin, Aina and Frosty, look to prevent Aztechnology from completing their ghastly ritual that will bring untold Horrors to Earth centuries ahead of time. If it’s possible this book takes the power level and ups it further, to the point of bordering in ludicrous. A solid book that has massive ramifications for the setting as a whole.4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

Technobabel, cover

Technobabel– An Otaku named Babel awakens with no memory of who he is or what has happened to him. To make matters worse, a whole lot of people, including a Megacorporation appear to be after him and he has no idea why. A good book that sets the background for parts of the Renraku Arcology Shutdown and the Brainscan Campaign.4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

Wolf and Raven, cover

Wolf and Raven– Dr Raven works with a group of runners lead by Wolfgang Kies and tries to help people and protect the world from undesirable types acting almost like modern day Robin Hood types more than traditional shadowrunners. This isn’t a book I enjoyed, I have to say I lost interest early on when a character called Kid Stealth was introduced because, as much as I get that this is a Sci-Fi setting i just couldn’t take any professional criminal called Kid Stealth seriously, he sounds like a bad 8Bit computer game character. 2.0 Stars (2.0 / 5)

Psychotrope, cover

Psychotrope– Five deckers, unknown and unrelated to one-another are the only hope for the entire of the Seattle matrix and it gets taken down and it’s inhabitants trapped inside. This book also provides background to the Renraku Arcology Shutdown as it introduces the psychotropic programming that Deus uses to create banded. In interesting book, not least of which because it takes place over a span of just 10 minutes or so, an eternity in the matrix, but next to no time on the outside. 4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

The Terminus Experiment, cover

The Terminus Experiment– A small local Seattle security firm with ties to organised crime is involved in a plot to mutate the HMHVV virus and effectively provide immortality through vampirism. Not a great book, the premise is ok but it becomes far more of a cyberpunk Van Helsing than a Shadowrun novel. 2.0 Stars (2.0 / 5)

Run Hard, Die Fast, cover

Run Hard, Die Fast- Prime Runner, Argent’s past comes back to haunt him as an ex girlfriend reaches out to him for help. Argent assembles a crew on short notice and goes to work in LA and the Pueblo Corporate Council. as always, it’s nice to see another location explored and the Pueblo lands feel suitably different to the wider world. Argent is a great character, although he appears to have literally every piece of cyberware known to man, to the point that he can’t have more than .1 essence left, even if it’s all delta grade. 3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)

Crossroads, cover

Crossroads– The first in the Tommy Talon series of books. Talon, Talon is drawn back home to Boston and into a conflict with local corporations and a powerful spirit with ties to his past. Talon takes a step away from Assets Inc takes center stage in his own story, also becoming the single most features character in the Shadowrun Novel line. This is a good book that feels more grounded than the Dragonheart Saga and has a neat plot that isn’t too convoluted or complex just for the sake of adding more twists.4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

The Forever Drug, cover

The Forever Drug– Romulus, a freelance investigator with the Halifax, Nova Scotia Lone Star department, who also happens to be a dog shapeshifter, discovers a dangerous new drug that gives the most euphoric high, before killing users. For all it’s faults, I actually liked this book. It’s a more light hearted view of life as a shapeshifter, in a place where they can be legal entities (unlike the UCAS). As a dog is a very different creature to a tiger the mindset of Romulus is vastly different to that of Striper, to an almost comical degree (like him getting the urge to put his head out of the window of moving cars). It shows a different side of Shadowrun, away from the harsh lights of the big sprawls making it feel much less dystopian than perhaps it has a right to.3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)

Ragnarock, cover

Ragnorok– Tommy Talon book 2. This time Talon travels to Germany to track down an archaeologist who appears to have vanished with the ancient artefacts he unearthed and ends up getting caught up in a fraternal battle between two of the most powerful siblings on the planet. A good continuation of the Talon series that expands upon the backstory of his team. Despite the love of Shadowrun in Germany this is the first English language novel that spends any real time there and it shows the disparate nature of that anarchic state. 4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

Tails You Lose, cover

Tails You Lose– When a scientist is extracted from a Vancouver Corporation it’s down to it’s head of security, Alma, to find out who did it and how. An interesting take on the extraction story as you see at least part of it from the other side of the law. Some parts are drawn directly from Dunkelzahn’s will, which is nice to see since it’s supposed to have have such a massive effect on the setting and some lesser known elements and enemies within the universe are explored as well, unfortunately just not all that well. 3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)

The Burning Time, cover

The Burning Time– Tommy Talon book 3. Talon returns home once more to face down an old enemy one last time and is reunited with a friend long thought lost. This is a surprisingly weak final entry in the Talon series. It feels like Stephen Kenson tried to wrap up more that was possible in one book and ended up rushing the job.3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)

Born to Run, cover

Born To Run-The first in the Kellan Colt Trilogy. A young girl, Kellan Colt searches for answers about her past, and her mother, while trying to become a shadowrunner. When it was first announced that there would be new Shadowrun novels I was excited but that quickly turned to disappointment upon when I read Born to Run. I’m sure if you are new to the setting then it’s a great introduction but to me it read like Shadowrun for children with the main character being young, naive and utterly inept but somehow surviving and making friends. Had Kellan existed in Robert Charrette’s, or Nigel Findley’s Shadowrun she would have likely met a quicker and less pleasant end. 1.0 Stars (1.0 / 5)

Poison Agendas, cover

Poison Agendas– The second Kellan Colt novel. Kellan goes on her first real Shadowrun and obviously gets in over her head. A better title would have been ‘My first Shadowrun’ and then it could have been 20 pages with big colourful pictures. At least Dragonlance had the good sense to release a full ‘young readers’ series and deliberately tone down the setting as opposed to just being insultingly poor. This is mildly better than the first book, mostly owing to the fact that it has a Toxic Spirit in it and that particular enemy has been sorely under-represented in the novel line. 1.0 Stars (1.0 / 5)

Fallen Angels, cover

Fallen Angels– Kellan Colt, book 3. Kellan’s past finally catches up with her and her questions get answered. I know I’ve read this but I really don’t remember much about it, leading me to believe that it was as poor as the previous offerings in the trilogy. As I don’t remember it It’d be unfair to give it a rating.

Drops of Corruption, cover

Drops of Corruption- I haven’t read this book.

Aftershock, cover

Aftershock- I haven’t read this book.

A Fistful of Data, cover

A Fistful of Data– I haven’t read this book.

Spells and Chrome, cover

Spells and Chrome- A collection of short stories set in the 2070’s of Shadowrun 4th edition. There isn’t anything particularly inspiring in here but owing to the fact that it was the only post Crash 2.0 book in publication for quite some time, it gets a little boost.3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)

Fire & Frost, shadowrun novel cover

Fire & Frost- This is the first release in Catalyst’s new line of Shadowrun novels set within the 5th edition timeline. This book is trade paperback sized, not mass market paperback sized and so is larger than all of the previous releases, aside from the initial release of Into The Shadows. I have not yet read this book.

Dark Resonance, Shadowrun Novel Cover

Dark Resonance- Another trade paperback sized release. I haven’t yet read this book.

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