Review of the Royce Ree Omnibus (The Emperor’s New Clothes), by Aldous Mercer

Royce Ree OmnibusI picked up Aldous Mercer‘s Royce Ree Omnibus after I saw it recommended in a Goodreads thread I was watching in a semi-stalkerish way…you know, reading all the posts while only being marginally involved myself. Since picking a book to read from the thousands I own can sometimes take me hours, I decided to just forgo the search, buy this one and read it. Done. Annoying decision-making process completely sidestepped. Score!

Description from Goodreads:
Imperial Agent Royce Ree needs to pull off the biggest heist the Universe has ever seen, or it’s bye-bye cushy government job, hello cleaning toilets in a dive-bar on Baga-V. 

To succeed, he will need help from the last person he’d ever ask: his ex.

I just plain had a blast reading this. I thought that Royce and Les were wonderful characters, their interactions were a pleasure and their poorly concealed feelings for one another marvellous. There was a lot of humor and the whole thing just had a sweet feel to it. The writing was crisp and compelling, the dialogue believable, the world-building just solid enough to give the reader a clear picture without bogging down the story, and the wit often subtle but readily apparent. Plus, there were psychic pets, zombie fashionistas, super spies, naked royalty, secret missions, soul searing love and one spunky rebellious princess. What more could I ask for?

Now, the book wasn’t faultless. There were some minor editing issues, changes in tense and person (3rd to 1st) and occasionally I wasn’t entirely clear what happened in a scene or what a particular technology actually did, but it really wasn’t all that often or noticeable. I’ll also admit that if I had been reading the individual instalments, instead of an omnibus (that read as smoothly as any other book I’ve encountered) I’d probably have been scratching my head about why it’s broken up. But I wasn’t, so I’m pretending it originated as a single text and moving on.

Lastly, I’m not a huge fan of the explain-it-all-in-a-big-historical-reveal-at-the-end technique. Here I thought some of it felt a little too convenient, some of it felt unrealistic (characters who knew each-other all pretended they didn’t without the reader knowing why, for example) and some aspects weren’t clearly explained. An example of the latter was the ‘only if he asks you’ scenario. This was accomplished, ostensibly arranged by Royce, but it was never shown how he managed to manipulate events and people to bring it about. (I realise that only makes sense to people who have read the book, for the rest of you it’s just an example to show that there is an example.)

None of these issues severely detracted from my basic enjoyment of the book though. As a ‘buy on a whim, even though I have tons I should read first’ book I deem it a complete success. I look forward to the continuation of the series and will be looking for more of Mercer’s writing.

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