Benny is incarcerated in the Glass Prison on Deirbhile, one
of the Assimilated Worlds of the fascistic Fifth Axis. Within
this gaol, there is no privacy; her every movement is visible
through the glass walls. For the pregnant Benny, the timing
couldn't have been much worse - she is due to give birth within
Fifth Axis previously featured in Justin Richards' novel Professor
Bernice Summerfield and the Doomsday Manuscript, in which
they were the Nazis to Benny's Indiana Jones. This time around,
however, Benny is in no condition for getting up to any Indy-style
derring-do, having become preggers in Rayner's previous book,
The Squire's Crystal.
narrative grips the reader from the outset, hurling you straight
into the prison, so to speak, with Benny and her midwife (a
hamster-like Pakhar called Claire) having already been made
inmates. How they came to be in this dire situation is gradually
revealed through flashbacks. The structure of the novel builds
into it a tense countdown towards the due date of the birth,
which, as if Benny didn't have enough problems already, is
plagued by potentially lethal complications.
author manages not to let things get too depressing too quickly,
by means of some characteristically quirky asides from Benny.
Further light relief is provided by a fellow prisoner who
goes by the adopted name of Sophia. She is a member of the
fact-fixated Grel, a race that have previously proven to be
dangerous adversaries of Bernice, although the two inmates
ultimately become firm friends.
moving and enthralling book will make you its prisoner.