Syndicate: Tales from the Twisted Eden Sector
by Lyle S. Tanner
Syndicate: Tales from the Twisted Eden Sector is a collection of related short stories set in a world where magic exists, hidden in the shadowed backstreets. Gangs, cults and criminal enterprises use magicians for their own ends, but with the warning to their members, “Don’t let the Syndicate catch you doing that.”
The Syndicate seems to be an organization of freelance magicians using their own spells and powers to keep magic from being noticed by the wider world. When a powerful magical artifact called the Phoenix Brand appears in the city, it begins to change hands with disastrous effect. When the Chief of the freelance department gets wind of it, his first thought is to find it and use it to resurrect his dead wife.
Through the course of the collection, we meet and follow the stories of those both working for, and hunted by the Syndicate. Each story stands alone, but together they form a serial narrative that lets the reader view the events through different eyes.
What I liked: I admit my bias here. I love short fiction, no matter the genre. Hand me a good story that I can read in one sitting and I’m happy. I enjoyed that these stories came from different viewpoints and different characters: Flint, Norm, the Twins, Dawn, Gabe, and Kate. My particular favorites were Ezra and Di, the “terror twins” because I got to see them through several points of view, including their own.
I also appreciated that the magic-wielders were fallible. They screw up and get their asses kicked. They don’t always win. They pass the job to someone else. Characters who have the skills don’t just pull them out of thin air; they study, prepare, get rushed for time and when things look bad enough, they retreat. I get a sense that the Syndicate may be trying to keep magic out of the wrong hands — but is this loosely-governed organization the right hands to hold on to the stuff?
What I didn’t like: The only character who is immune to magic is named Norm. That made me wince. The other dislikes I had were purely technical. I downloaded this as a .mobi file and there are no chapters set up in the menu. This made it hard for me to move around the text when I wanted to. I found a few “spell check’ errors (i.e., wrong word, but spelled correctly). As much as people talk about poor editing in e-reader files, getting these little things worked out is critical.
I’d recommend this book to people who enjoy urban fantasy and horror. The eBooks and individual stories are affordably priced and available in several formats from reliable sources. Check out the author’s website: www.lylestanner.com for more.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.