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Shadow of the Scorpion (Polity Universe #2)
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Shadow of the Scorpion

(Polity Universe (chronological order) #2)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  3,140 ratings  ·  122 reviews
Raised to adulthood during the end of the war between the human Polity and the vicious arthropoid race, the Prador, Ian Cormac is haunted by childhood memories of a sinister scorpion-shaped war drone and the burden of losses he doesn't remember.

In the years following the war he signs up with Earth Central Security, and is sent out to help either restore or simply maintain
Paperback, 341 pages
Published April 2nd 2010 by Tor Books (first published 2008)
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Showing 1-30
4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,140 ratings  ·  122 reviews

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Dirk Grobbelaar
Shadow of the Scorpion isn’t a very big book, compared to other entries in the Polity series. This is a good thing, since all it really sets out to do is reveal that Agent Cormac was a serious bad-ass long before Gridlinked.

She turned and gazed at Cormac for a moment. "It would appear that this soldier is a walking abattoir."

That said, this isn’t criticism, it’s actually a nod to an author who keeps himself in check when that is what is required, or at least as far as page count is concerned. Th
This one is easily a better novel than the previous one, but I can't quite tell if that's just because the heavy lifting of the tech and aliens has already been long-established from within Prador Moon.

This one moves well beyond a straight high-tech military porn and delves into the creation of Ian Cormac, of whom later novels are focused, and the reveals he slowly learns about his erased childhood, splitting the novel between his adulthood and his formation pretty equally, while also being embr
Nov 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m finding it slightly difficult to review this book. As even though I felt it was a well written story, I struggled to connect with the characters in this world.

I’d read Pardor Moon a while a go and with this being listed as the second in the ‘Polity Universe’ on Goodreads I felt that it would have be a great place to continue.
The book introduces the character Ian Cormac to the series.

I couldn’t put my finger on why I was struggling to full grasp the story, it wasn’t until I started reading a
Prequel to the Ian Cormac series. First half 3 stars with threaded back stories of Cormac as preteen and military soldier...and overly excessive amounts of setting descriptions. Second half 4 stars with copious amounts of ass kickery...and where many loose story threads were sewn. Loved the too few scenes with crab-like Prador and once-human hoopers, both from the author's best novel THE SKINNER, which I recommend reading first along with Ian Cormac books 1 and 2.
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this second book in the Polity series very much. Lots of interesting technology and good sci-fi action keep the pacing very good. The characters are an interesting mix, especially since multiple different AI’s are included, and some of the interesting aspects of the relationships between people and AI’s are explored. I’m definitely going to read the next one.
Chris Berko
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 rounded up. I cannot convey my love for Neal Asher adequately using mere words. All six Cormac books, the three Spatterjays, and this being the third standalone Polity novel I've read and I'm always entertained. While this offers nothing new other than Cormac family tree stuff, the pacing is relentless, the action is epic, and as always there is a shitload going on. Dont start here if you're new to Asher but definitely pick it up if you enjoy his other books.
I think one of the things I appr
Ben Babcock
Fresh from the worldbuilding present in Perdido Street Station, it's not surprising that Shadow of the Scorpion's worldbuilding does not impress me much. This is straight genre fiction—and that is not a bad thing. It appeals to the ardent science fiction fan in me by using standard tropes or settings like artificial intelligences running the society; a "space army" composed of infantry, marine troops, etc.; an alien enemy that is distinctly non-human in both form and thought; and a lone protagon ...more
May 08, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Predictable and hard to read.
This book reads very much like the prequel it is. There are many flashbacks into childhood and it reads very much as a character creation story. While I didn't think it was the best book I've ever read for these purposes, it did serve to intrigue me and I look forward to starting the main series for Cormac.
Karl Ljungberg
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: sci-fi action fans
Shelves: polity, sci-fi, action
Ah yes, the Polity universe. I wasn't sure what to expect when I started this series, back with Prador Moon, and I didn't do much research outside of finding out how many books there were and what the general consensus was. And, for the most part, I liked it. At least enough to give further books in the series a try. Why I early on surmised they weren't meant to be highbrow literature, it was definitely an entertaining read. And sometimes that's all I ask for.

Then I read Gridlinked and it didn't
May 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: britishsci-fi
Having enjoyed Ian Cormac in Gridlinked and later in Brass Man, I thought I really ought to get my act together and read the entire Ian Cormac series in order. This starts with Shadow of the Scorpion in which Cormac, an 8-year-old with a dysfunctional family begins to notice that this scorpion-shaped war drone keeps showing up where it isn't supposed to and it has something to tell him.

Or does it? This book does two things really nicely:

1. Tells us the story of how Ian Cormac came to join ECS an
Mar 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
4+ stars

This is a prequel of the Agent Cormac series and follows Ian Cormac through two time periods - his childhood during the war with the aliens and his youth when he joined the Earth Central Security.

The war is over, but there are alien stragglers left behind who are still lethal. Their technology is attracting the separatists determined to use it against the Polity. Cormac shows certain skills which involve him with the intelligence operations and hunt for the traitor. Through these events
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
The best thing about airplane trips is nearly uninterrupted reading, which, for a book like this, is a sheer delight.

This book is listed on Goodreads as Polity #3, but I think it could also be listed as Cormac #1, because we get to see Agent Cormac's formative years. A blending of events, the winding down of the Prador War and Cormac's background information all nicely packaged into one strong book.

I'm usually not a fan of back and forth timelines, where the characters bounce between the past a
Apr 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
The story centers round Ian Cormac, showing his beginnings as a soldier, promoted to the Sparkind and later as an ECS agent. Interspersed with this are flashbacks to his childhood, relating the details of his mother and brother's tales during the Prador war and how he has no memories of his father or how he died in that war.

Another installment in Asher's Polity Universe, this tale gives us some of the background to Ian Cormac's early life, his joining ECS and how he acquires that lethal Tenkian
Luci Ann Keenagh
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is only my second Asher book so I'm not that knowledgable on Polity stuff. What I can say is that I loved it! I enjoyed the world and the characters very much and thought it a very engaging story. The action is awesome and I like the fact that he's not afraid to get quite gruesome in detail. Very taken with Cormacs character and liked reading about his young life in parallel to current events. The scorpion drone is amazingly cool and scary, I want one!!! Having previously read Prador Moon, ...more
Mar 30, 2009 rated it really liked it

Prequel/last book in the Cormac saga offers all that you expect in a Polity novel; a fast and satisfying read, however it does not offer anything essentially new for Polity "veteran reader" and it is quite predictable in some ways.

The novel rounds Ian Cormac's character well showing his beginning as soldier and later ECS agent with childhood flashbacks.

It could also serve as a great introduction to the 5 book "main" Cormac saga and I think that newcomers to Mr. Asher's work would enjoy it gre
Fred Hughes
Oct 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this so much I bought two more of his books. A dual storyline separated by 14 years of a regular soldier who does extraordinary stuff. Very entertaining. Review to follow
Adam Whitehead
Dec 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I'd heard a lot about Neal Asher in the past, I hadn't picked up any of his books until encountering the author himself at a signing in my home town of Colchester. I picked up Gridlinked, his first novel and also the first in his Agent Cormac series, but hadn't gotten round to reading it before I was sent an ARC of his latest novel, Shadow of the Scorpion. Since Shadow of the Scorpion is a prequel to the other Cormac books, it seemed like a decent place to start.

The setting is many cent
Oct 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-sci-fi
Ian Cormac's youth and early career are laid out in this second novel; featuring his military training and eventual recruitment as an agent. As a child, the youngest in the family, he had missed out on the fighting in the Prador War that his older brothers and father were caught up in. When news came of his father's fate, Ian's Mom deemed him too young to handle it and had his memories selectively wiped. Eventually, she came to regret this choice but waited until Ian was old enough and curious e ...more
Jim Mann
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Neal Asher's Polity universe has some similarities to Iain Banks' Culture. Super powerful AIs control much, in partnership with humans. But the polity is much darker and grittier. Many deal with the war with the Prador -- nasty, beetle-like aliens -- and its aftermath, or the monstrous humans who profited during that time. And a number deal with Polity agent Ian Cormac, who first appeared in Gridlinked.

Shadow of the Scorpion is a prequel to Gridlinked, telling the story of how Cormac became a P
Jun 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I don't find these books to be page turners; however, Asher does a fantastic job at world building. The tech and the raggedy nature of hundreds (or more) years of human expansion into the universe seems plausible and it's always well explained. The tech seems to fall within what has been described, though this book has a tiny bit of deus ex machina about one of the subplots. The characters are slightly more fleshed out than most hard-core science fiction. While it takes me a while to read these, ...more
Lee Belbin
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel was as good as any of Ashers I have read. Good technically and hard to put down. What more could one ask for. This book continues the Prador interactions but in a lull with Cormac chasing the events around his father's death. The usual baddies who fall by the way (how American) and with quite a few close friends as well, with the Goodie lasting the distance - no surprise there. A good read and looking for more
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've just found Neal Asher on Goodreads. I'm not going to leave a review, except to say that I own every. single. one. of his books in paperback. Books are expensive in South Africa, and I *really* don't have a lot of money. I buy them anyway, and cut back on other costs for the month. He's that good.
Joel Steele
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-to-read
Seeing as i am reading this series in chronological rather than published order there were some parts i felt were not explained well or seem to glance over. Good boom but was a bit haphazard in storyline intergration.
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good backstory regarding Ian Cormac

Some poor reviews for this book. However as an avid Asher reader I liked this back story of Ian Cormac. As a stand-alone book it isn’t great but having read the other Cormac books this was a good read.
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published 2008. This is somewhat Neal Asher lite as the usual complexity of his stories give way to a simple plot and good action.
Elizabeth Nephew
Origin Story!
Dec 02, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Some readers love this kind of story, but not me. I barely got a fifth of the way through before I gave up.
Sep 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not bad. Not as good as Asher’s more recent polity stories though. A bit clunky in places but I still felt it was a decent read.
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Predictable. 3.5.
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I’ve been an engineer, barman, skip lorry driver, coalman, boat window manufacturer, contract grass cutter and builder. Now I write science fiction books, and am slowly getting over the feeling that someone is going to find me out, and can call myself a writer without wincing and ducking my head. As professions go, I prefer this one: I don’t have to clock-in, change my clothes after work, nor scru ...more

Other books in the series

Polity Universe (chronological order) (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • Prador Moon  (Polity Universe, #1)
  • Gridlinked (Agent Cormac #1, Polity Universe #3)
  • The Line Of Polity (Agent Cormac, #2)
  • Brass Man (Agent Cormac, #3)
  • Polity Agent (Agent Cormac, #4)
  • Line War (Agent Cormac, #5)
  • The Technician
  • Dark Intelligence (Transformation, #1)
  • War Factory (Transformation #2)
  • Infinity Engine (Transformation, #3)