Review of HESPIRA by Matthew Hughes (see his website)
TALES OF HENGHIS HAPTHORN
In the far distant future, under the dying sun of Earth, discriminator (detective) Henghis Hapthorn tries to do his job while dealing with the loss of his intuitive powers (those powers have now become a separate person), and his knowledge that the future where magic sweeps away the world of rational thought that has been his entire existance. When a job goes wrong, Henghis is urged to leave Earth for a while and decides to take the case of a mysterious woman who suffers from artifically induced amnesia.
Following clues offered by the woman's accent and vocabulary, Henghis finds first the sector, then the planet from which she came. Along the way, he notices that he's being followed--this apparently unimportant woman seems to be at the center of something.
Author Matthew Hughes gives us a mix of science fiction, detective fiction and a bit of fantasy in the form of Henghis's alternate self who is now a mage. Hughes writes in an engaging first-person style, and Henghis, with his occasionally pompous (and sometimes justified) self-certainty, wit and insight, is an intriguing character. This is the third book in this series and I somehow missed the earlier ones--I'll want to circle back and see if I can find them.
It seemed to me that HESPIRA relied a bit too much on coincidence to drive the story forward and to me, Hespira herself (the mysterious amnesiac woman) remained a bit of a non-entity rather than a fully developed character. (Spoiler alert) Finally, the entire quest, which made up the bulk of the book, seemed to me unnecessary. Surely the trap for Henghis could have been engaged the first time he visited his alternate self rather than waiting until the second.
Overall, between Hughes's writing, the nicely drawn character of Henghis Hapthorn, and the far-future world on the cusp of a return to magic, HESPIRA makes for an enjoyable read.
Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name.
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