In the Hall of the Martian King (2003)

The first Jak novel was nice fluff, the second one turned a bit darker and the last one is completely back in common Barnes territory. There are still fun moments (the man who thought he had the best porn collection in the universe and Barnes narrative voice correcting him made me smile for a long time), but overall there are many currents under the surface. What really stands out is that there are no easy explanations, no easy characterizations. People have many sides, ugly ones, nice ones and many more. Nobody is just a fool, nobody is just evil. And nothing is as simple as it might seem at first.

The plot is about the truth nature of the Wager, the philosophy that guides all human societies in the solar system. When the lifelog of the founder of the Wager is found, everyone wants it, the Hive, the Aerie and others. But what is contained within might shake up everything people believed in (I wonder whether the whole thing has been inspired by the science fiction writer turned religion maker). Every side wants it, but in the end there are no winners, just survivors.

And I can’t shake the feeling off that Barnes has set up Jak’s best friend for a horribly fall in some future Jak book (I hope there is one).