Book Review: The Blackcollar by Timothy Zahn

High on action and plot twists, The Blackcollar follows Allen Caine as he attempts to fight back against the Ryqril, an alien race who have been dominating humanity for the last 30 years.

Caine is sent on a dangerous mission and his only hope of success lies in finding Blackcollars, chemically enhanced soldiers created in during the war as super warriors to fight the Ryqril. The Blackcollars have super fast reflexes, huge tactical knowledge and a wish to fight humanity's overlords at any turn. Thanks to a life-extending drug, some Blackcollars may not only be alive, but in perfect health to fight.

Cue plenty of martial-arts based action, with shuriken and nunchakus the order of the day. As Caine and his companions try to complete Caine's mission in the hope it will help the whole of humanity. But it would be a mistake to dismiss this as a pure boys-own action-adventure, the main characters are better drawn than you would expect from this sort of novel, with conflict playing a major part in their interplay as double-cross and withheld information set the good guys against each other. Even the main human bad guy, Galway, controller of the planet Caine ends up on, has some character and isn't merely a bumbling fool working for alien masters.

Zahn takes what could have been a pretty turgid tale and gives it some class and depth. A decent read for action-adventure SF lovers.

Title: The Blackcollar
Author: Timothy Zhan
Publisher: Venture
ISBN: 0886771684
Published Date: 1983
Pages: 272

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Review by Paul Silver, 2002