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Polity Agent

(Agent Cormac #4)

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  5,364 ratings  ·  123 reviews

From 800 years in the future, a runcible gate is opened into the Polity. Those coming through it have been tasked with taking the alien ‘Maker’ back to its home civilization in the Small Magellanic cloud. Once these refugees are safely through, the gate itself is rapidly shut down – because something alien is pursuing them.

From those who get through, agent Cormac learns t

Kindle Edition, Reprints edition, 580 pages
Published August 21st 2009 by Tor (first published September 28th 2006)
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Mark No. The five books are essentially one story. An amazing story too :)
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Average rating 4.22  · 
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 ·  5,364 ratings  ·  123 reviews

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This kind of popcorn fiction requires a certain kind of mindset. A transhumanist mindset. One that keeps slipping between the lines of AI and Human and horrifying alien trap-technology.

Of course, since I'm half machine anyway, I'm perfectly at home with these shifting lines of self-definition. Screw sex-politics as a subset for SF idea exploration. Let's get right down to transforming the human race into something barely recognizable as human now, or if we can recognize it, it's constantly flyi
Tim Hicks
Oct 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Five stars because it is exactly the kind of book it is trying to be; not Great Lit'racheh, just a ripping yarn.

You'll enjoy and understand it more if you have read at least several of the previous Polity books. Having said that, I missed Line of Polity and got along fine.

Imagine all you've ever read about AIs and really honking big spaceships. Take Alastair Reynolds and turn it up a notch. Take anyone else and turn it up to 11. Stir in at least ten forms that intelligence can take. Add hype
Mr. Windup Bird
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who has read the first 3 books in the series
Shelves: favorites, 21-50
Polity Agent, in my view, is the "Empire Strikes Back" of Neal Asher's excellent "Agent Cormac" series. We hit the ground running, and never stopped. Neal tightened up the sine wave for Polity Agent, resulting in a wild, very dark, ride.

Since anyone interested in Polity Agent is almost definitely deep into the series, I won't bother with a long winded review, but just say this is now my current favorite book in the series. I feel like Neal's writing, which I already liked, went up another notch
May 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bad Ass...completely. What startes off as semi-slow burn turns into a hectic inferno at the end. This is definitely not a starter novel, the books should be read in sequence, if for nothing more than to comprehend the full scope of the Polity Universe. I won't bother going into backstory but suffice to say that the Uber Agent Cormac is back and laden with a threat that beats the Borg and the Cylons, combined! With the help of starship Titans such as Jack, King, Jerusalem and Battlewagon, they fi ...more
Stevie Kincade
The previous novel in the series Brass Man tended to focus on Mr Crane, the titular golem, the quest of the Rondure knight and our Jain afflicted villian Skellor in addition to juggling a dozen or more characters and AIs. Skellor has (view spoiler), the Rondure Knight is not mentioned again (and thus I forgot his name) and Mr Crane appears in one scene. So this novel is quite different from the previous.

"Polity Agent" consolidates the story after the events of "Brass Man"
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I admit, I'm at a bit of a loss how to describe Polity Agent without giving anything of importance away. It's a bit like trying to describe the universe - it is a big story involving numerous AI ships, Earth Central, Earth Central's emissary Horace Blegg, Earth Central's agent Cormac, a rogue AI, technology that will kill all intelligent life, a scientist, the entity known as Dragon, and a human-AI mix from a construction project....I think I have all the key players.

A robot known as the Legate
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Space opera - chock full of gadgets, action, aliens, AIs.

Note: I started on Book 4 without reading the second and third books in the series, and so any trouble I had finishing this book was my own doing. But still, this turned out to be much more interesting than when I started it a year ago ...

Several things are happening at once, something to do with the Dragon, and Jain nodes, and the King, which is apparently a renegade AI, and an immortal being who was around in WWII, and a powerful interve
Jun 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-read
Polity Agent is the fourth book in the Agent Cormac series, a series I've been catching up with and thoroughly enjoying. The second and third books in the series, The Line of Polity and Brass Man, dealt with the emergence of Jain tech and Skellor's use of it and was a fairly self-contained duology within the main story. Of course, just because that sub-story concluded it doesn't mean everything is fine, far from it - Jain tech is still out there and Polity Agent hits the ground running.

As a runc
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeff Mcleod
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So far, this is my favorite in my journey to the far edges of Neal Asher's Polity universe with Agent Ian Cormac. I had read that Asher's writing really tightened up on his later novels, and I certainly see that in Polity Agent. This book is filled to the brim with incredible action, nightmare creatures, space horror and startling revelations (both for the reader and for a few main characters...). Seems to have a much better flow . . . and maybe it's just because I'm so familiar with the charact ...more
Mar 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
If a threat to the Polity seemed huge in the previous book, it becomes a runaway train or, rather, a spaceship in this one. The alien technology is spreading and subsuming people and AIs alike. The death toll is enormous and Cormac has to solve the mystery of the Dragon, Horace Blegg and his new abilities. Better than the previous book, it sets the stage for the culmination of the series. While I like all the old characters, I found the new ones - like Orlandine or some of the AIs - I enjoyed th ...more
Aug 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Boss level! This series begs comparison to Banks, but I've already made one, so... book by book the scale is shifting towards the epic interstellar space opera end of the continuum, developing further near-omnipotent AI characters whilst wrapping up the merely human - usually by death. I'm starting to find some of the longer-running plot arc developments perplexing, with a feeling that some of the reveals are really retcons. Still a rollicking good read, though.
Martin Streetman
Jan 05, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Martin by: AZ Bryon
This book was certainly a page turner but in the end left a few too many things unresolved for my taste. As with many books in this genre it introduced as few things that border on philosophy. In this book since essentially anyone who wants to can effectively live forever, some people just get board and turn themselves off, and I thought that was interesting.
Apr 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Another episode in the events of the Polity universe and the attack on it by the alien Jain technology and now rogue AIs.

A very enjoyable read as Ian Cormac discovers that he is more like Horace Blegg than he thought. With Skellor gone, Jain technology finds new allies and the rogue AI Erebus makes its presence known.
Simon Ford
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you've read the other books in the series, this book takes it up a notch. The action is bigger, the twists and turns more fun, and the exploration of the Polity universe still engaging.

One caveat is that this book really doesn't focus on Agent Cormac as much as some of the others, so if that's what you came back for, you might be slightly disappointed (he's still there, just not on every page).

If anything, this fourth novel in the Agent Cormac series shows this universe has legs, and there ca
I Cristian
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 books in a series of 5 and only now do we actually find out who the main villain is. And I don't care. It's a wild ride AND it was worth the wait. And we don't actually learn too much about what it actually wants. And I don't care.
The book is - like most of the other Polity books - almost non-stop action. It starts off slower, but picks up speed and is quite good at introducing new characters and new plot lines to the overall story. It is quite annoying that Asher simply forgets or ignores som
Florin Constantinescu
If you liked the synopsis of the 'Polity' universe, then this is the book to start it with. Albeit standing somewhere between the 4th and 6th book in the universe, the previous books are simply badly written and contain very small amounts of information that isn't 'recapped' somewhere in this one.
Some kind of magic transformation must've occurred to the author somewhere after the previous book in the series, and here he delivers fast, interesting, well-written action with cool characters, situat
Mike Heath
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
After surviving the horror of Skellor, this book involves the the return of characters and the resolution of situations created in earlier books. With Cormac recovering from the culmination of Jain tech in the hands of Skellor, a new story arc starts with the Haiman Orlandine getting her hands on a new Jain node.

Horace Blegg returns and you start to understand his history and the story takes an unexpected twist.

By the end, you have started to get some answers and this book really expands the ove
Marco Paganini
Another good book, but I think at this point the series is suffering a bit of "Jain tech overdose". It appears that given the power of the Polity, it gets hard to think of a suitable enemy other than Jain tech.

This particular book starts somewhat slow and takes a while to pick up the pace and get really interesting, but eventually all leads are tied out nicely. There's also some updates on Horace Blegg and (indirectly) Ian Cormac, which was long overdue.

I'd give the book 3.5 stars as the Jain th
Pawel Dolega
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Simply another installment of Agent Cormac series set in Polity universe.

For all of you who already read prior Cormac's adventures - it's definitely on par with other installments. Maybe slightly less interesting than "Brass Man" - but that's probably because the larger intrigue just got initiated and will be (probably) concluded in the next (last) book.

For all others, not familiar with Cormac or Polity universe - just start from "Gridlinked".
Keith Vai
More adventures of Cormac, his Shuriken and the whole gang. Thorn, Mika, Scar and now a cast of AI characters too.

In this installment, we get a lot more AI ships who behave like people but are actually, ships.

We get to learn more about the mysterious Horace Blegg.

Dragon shows up for a while. Orladine and a few runcible AI are introduced.

There is a huge space battle.

And the book ends. Curious if book 5 will wrap the story up or just end like this one did.
Andrii Guselietov
Excellent as usual.
I must say, that I was so deep in the plot and events, that I failed to predict the events and outcome with Horacio Blegg. PLus, yes, it's out of the Cormac's series, but one of the personages that I really liked and been observing with interest here is the AI "King of Hearts"
but ssssussh, no real spoilers, take the book, read and enjoy!
Eric Peers
The plot is the thing

Fast pace plot with plenty of action. Engaging story kept me churning through the pages. However, the dialogue was often stiff and inorganic. And sometimes just odd. Odd enough to throw me out of the story.

Still, curious of where the arc of the story lands.
Sep 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good sci-fi stuff, but compared to the previous books in the series, this one was slightly weaker imo. Still, overall Neal Asher has created one of the coolest sci-fi universe around, so even if I gave this book only a 3, I still thoroughly enjoyed it
Michael Gray
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: antiheroes, sci-fi, aliens
Ian Cormac lives, and how. Delving deeper into the story and dealing with some extremely well-worn tropes in a refreshing manner, this book was deeply satisfying and kept delivering, teasing me on, into the Polity.
Just gets better

At the start of the book I was beginning to become bored. The baddies keep getting bigger and tougher and so do good guys. But about halfway through some plot twists and back on the rollercoaster. Overall another great book.
Derelict Space Sheep
Science fiction at its most futuristic and sweeping, yet totally lacking in heart. For all the complex characters, grand ideas and unstoppably momentous tectonic-plate plot clashes, listening to this was the aural equivalent of chewing through cardboard. Aborted at the two-fifths mark.
Ceri Sambrook
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Asher writes fascinating sci-fi, blending the styles of Peter F Hamilton and Iain M Banks. Humans, Rogue AI's and aliens struggle with each other against a backdrop of ancient killer tech. Good, solid space opera.
Carl Barlow
Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another crowd pleaser.
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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

Agent Cormac (5 books)
  • Gridlinked (Agent Cormac #1, Polity Universe #3)
  • The Line Of Polity (Agent Cormac, #2)
  • Brass Man (Agent Cormac, #3)
  • Line War (Agent Cormac, #5)

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