Kindle blurb Edit
Fifty years after the events of Altered Carbon, Takeshi Kovacs is serving as a mercenary in the Protectorate-sponsored war to put down Joshuah Kemp's revolution on the planet Sanction IV. He is offered the chance to join a covert team chasing a prize whose value is limitless -- and whose dangers are endless. Here is a novel that takes mankind to the brink.
Paperback blurb Edit
Welcome back to the brash, brutal new world of the twenty-fifth century: where global politics isn’t just for planet Earth anymore; and where death is just a break in the action, thanks to the techno-miracle that can preserve human consciousness and download it into one new body after another.
Cynical, quick-on-the-trigger Takeshi Kovacs, the ex-U.N. envoy turned private eye, has changed careers, and bodies, once more; trading sleuthing for soldiering as a warrior-for-hire, and helping a far-flung planet’s government put down a bloody revolution.
But when it comes to taking sides, the only one Kovacs is ever really on is his own. So when a rogue pilot and a sleazy corporate fat cat offer him a lucrative role in a treacherous treasure hunt, he’s only too happy to go AWOL with a band of resurrected soldiers of fortune. All that stands between them and the ancient alien spacecraft they mean to salvage are a massacred city bathed in deadly radiation, unleashed nanotechnolgy with a million ways to kill, and whatever surprises the highly advanced Martian race may have in store. But armed with his genetically engineered instincts, and his trusty twin Kalashnikovs, Takeshi is ready to take on anything—and let the devil take whoever’s left behind.
Some 30 years after Altered Carbon, Takeshi Kovacs is now serving in Carrera's Wedge, a mercenary organisation which joins a corporate war on a distant colony, Sanction IV, and fights the rebellion against the corporate-sponsored government. While having his latest body repaired after a disastrous campaign, Kovacs is approached by pilot Jan Schneider, who is looking for protection for an expedition to exploit a Martian artefact discovered just before the war broke out. "Martian" artefacts have been known for many years at this point, one of them being featured in Altered Carbon. Later it is realised that the "Martians" were not from Mars, but were a technologically advanced species that left artefacts on many planets, including Mars and Kovacs' home world.
The artefact, located in the middle of the war zone, is actually a wormhole linked to a point in outer space where a Martian starship lies. Kovacs and Schneider formulate a plan to recover the wormhole and begin by rescuing Tanya Wardani, the archaeologist who coordinated the pre-war dig, from a prison camp. Unable to reach the heavily contested location alone, Kovacs enlists the support of one of the major companies involved in feeding the war, the Mandrake Corporation, which is represented by an executive named Matthias Hand.
Kovacs and Hand buy hundreds of soldiers' stacks from "The Soul Market" and from them select an elite squad for the expedition. Hand secretly leaks information that prompts the rebels to drop nuclear bombs on the city of Sauberville close to the site, which clears the site of opposing forces and the recovery expedition begins.
Near the artefact, an abandoned fishing boat is found with two dead bodies, drifting in its net. The artefact is a wormhole gate that allows instantaneous transport to an outer area of the Sanction star system where an ancient Martian warship is adrift. The archaeologist starts her work to translate the Martian "technoglyphs" on the artefact to activate it. While awaiting Wardani's progress, the party are slowly being poisoned by radioactive fallout from the blast. During their first night at the dig site, an unknown member of the party attempts to sabotage the mission by using a corrosion grenade to destroy equipment aboard their shuttle.
Upon securing the area, they encounter a group of nanodes – microscopic machines that can assemble into an intelligent composite machine able to learn how to defend itself once attacked in a process like evolution. Hand reveals to Kovacs that nanodes were deployed by a rival representative of the Mandrake Corporation in an attempt to secure the site. The nanodes evolve into more and more aggressive forms which attack the squad several times, eventually killing two members. During the last and strongest attack by nanodes, Tanya succeeds in opening the wormhole which, when confronted by the nanodes, deactivates them.
The party goes through the wormhole and finds a huge and inactive Martian starship, along with the bodies of Tanya's original archaeological team. Kovacs' squad enters the starship to place an ownership claim buoy inside. Kovacs notices that Schneider is free from radiation sickness. When confronted he escapes in the shuttle, killing another member in the process. Unknown to Schneider, Kovacs had mined the shuttle to explode on gate re-entry, apparently eliminating the mission's traitor.
During their exploration, the Martian starship is attacked by an unknown starship which causes its automated defence systems to come online. During the attack the party begins to experience visions and emotions from the dead Martians and comes close to madness. Hand realises the danger and orders Kovacs to shoot the others with a stunning weapon to render them unconscious.
After the battle is over, the Wedge rescues and then imprisons the remaining members of the squad as one of them is wanted as a traitor by the Wedge. By this point Kovacs has become completely loyal to his new squad and retains no allegiance to the Wedge. During the traitor's torture, he is able to free his squad and kill the entire Wedge unit, apart from Carrera, who manages to escape through the wormhole. Despite being almost dead from radiation exposure, Kovacs follows him through and kills him.
Kovacs realises that Wardani sabotaged the first archaeological expedition after discovering that her team wanted to use the Martian ship as a weapon. She was responsible for the two corpses on the fishing boat and for closing the wormhole behind the others. She also destroyed the equipment in the shuttle to prevent the team from finding out what happened. Tanya confesses everything to Kovacs and decides to stay and oversee the recovery of the wormhole generator, while Kovacs trades the rights to the Martian ship for safe passage out of the war zone for the surviving members of his team, who leave for the Latimer system.
Release details Edit
- 2002, United Kingdom, Victor Gollancz Ltd, ISBN 0-575-07323-3 Pub date 20 March 2003, Hardback
- 2004, United States of America, Del Rey, ISBN 0-345-45771-4, Pub date 2 March 2004, Paperback
- 2005, Poland, ISA, ISBN 83-7418-039-0, Pub date 2005, Hardback
- 2009, Hungary, Agave Könyvek, ISBN 978-963-9868-32-8, Paperback