The Exile Kiss by George Alec Effinger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Jacket Blurb: Marîd Audran has risen
from hustling on the streets of the decadent Budayeen ghetto to being
the right-hand man of one of the Maghreb's most feared men. As an
enforcer for the powerful Friedlander Bey, Marîd is just beginning to
enjoy his newfound wealth and privilege, when he and Bey are betrayed by
a rival and accused of murder.
Sentenced to exile and abandoned
to die in the vast Arabian desert, Marîd and Bey must somehow survive
the searing sands and make their way back to the now-hostile
Budayeen--and, then, take their vengeance.
This is book three in the series also covering When Gravity Fails and a Fire in the Sun. I have enjoyed all three books immensely, even though I read them over a decade. I can be pokey sometimes in reading series.
In this final installment, Marid and his boss, Freidlander Bey, are kidnapped, accused of murdering a policeman, tried and summarily sentenced to exile in the desert, then kicked out the helicopter door and dumped in the sands. It's only by fortitude and perseverance that they survive, to return to the Budayeen to kick some henchmen butt. The Exile is only about a quarter of the story, the rest is resolution.
While I absolutely love the setting - the Budayeen, the Middle East - this story left me a somewhat dissatisfied. I never really did get a feel for the why, the real motivation behind such a harsh treatment other than a cursory Mob Boss conflict. I was also somewhat disappointed with Marid having this life altering event living amongst the Bedu, then so quickly slid back into his augmentation and drugs.
My complaints aside, it's still the setting and world that enchants me. The gritty Budayeen with it's augmented trash, the sex-change moddies, the illegality of nearly everything but yet, it's home to Marid. A cyber punk book, yes, but it's still as refreshing a read today as it was when it was first published in 1991. The Exile Kiss doesn't feel dated like some cyberpunk books do. It's a smooth read, the plot flows, the characters are varied and interesting.
Recommended, but start with When Gravity Fails.
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