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Template: A Novel of the Archonate (Trade Paperback)

****( ) (based on 4 ratings)

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by Matthew Hughes, with an introduction by Jay Lake

When professional duelist Conn Labro escapes indentured servitude as the star player of Horder’s Emporium, he abandons the gaming world of Thrais and sets out on an interstellar journey filled with murder, deceit, and self-discovery. His only friend on Thrais, discovered dead and tortured, left him enough money to buy himself out of his contract and a curious encrypted “bearer deed” to a mysterious property on the distant edge of the galactic Spray. With the seductive, secretive showgirl Jenore Mordene at his side and a villainous pleasure cult dogging his every move, Labro sets out to learn the truth behind his bearer deed and more about his own past than he had ever dared bargain for.

For the first time ever in paperback, this thrilling, vividly imagined new science fiction novel from rising star Matthew Hughes (The Commons, Majestrum, The Spiral Labyrinth) provides atmospheric adventure in the classic tradition while layering on complex, fascinating societies and future cultures with the deft touch of a master storyteller. Set in Hughes’s universe of the Archonate, in the “Penultimate Age of Man,” Template features unforgettable characters, lyrical language, and a stirring starscape glittering with the myriad worlds of the distant future.

“Matthew Hughes plays with worlds and cultures and concepts in a lushly textured way, creating a rococo universe full of clever conceits, maddening difficulties, rich satire and more, all in clean, elegant prose that catches the reader's interest and carries you smoothly through a story that's by turns intriguing, exciting, amusing and in the end, very satisfying.”
    —Kurt Busiek

192-page softcover trade paperback ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-264-7

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Product Reviews (4)

Average product rating:

****( ) (based on 4 ratings)

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A good read, I'd like to see more.

****( )

Conn Labro is a very entertaining character and the whole book was a fun read. This is the 2nd book I've read from the Planet Stories line. It's done great to improve my outlook for future books I purchase in the line.

That being said, I had a good idea from the beginning how the book would end. It ended fairly close to what I imagined it to be. Because of this I only give it four stars.

Thoughtful Chewing

***( )( )

Some authors set out to entertain. Some set out to make a social or political statement. Some have their own agenda. Few authors anymore seem at all interested in just getting you to think about things.

In Matthew Hughes’ Template, Conn Labro, an indentured servant and professional duelist, lives a life that he mostly seems to enjoy. But events that started off his home planet of Thrais have set in motion consequences that take him out into the galaxy for the first time. During his journey he has ample time to not only contemplate those events, but also confront his past, his values, and even the way that he views the world around him.

Between the action there’s plenty of time to think, both for the character and the reader. Hughes serves up more than a few heaping helpings of deep philosophy that the reader either has to numbly wade through, or carefully chew on in order to move the story forward. It gave me lots to think about and I enjoyed that, but this type of reading is not for everyone.

Some of the action he uses along the way to keep things flowing falls flat on its face. In one section, we’re given a complex description of a new type of water sport and then forced to sit through a play by play that is hard to understand without going back and referencing prior material--not a favorite past-time for most readers. Some reader might enjoy it.

The ending comes very close to a dues ex machina—close enough that most readers are going to think it is one. There’s a veiled reference earlier in the book that sort of kind of casually refers to how the hero succeeds, but from talking to other readers, I’m one of the few that caught it before it comes up in the plot.

I enjoyed the book. I know there’s plenty of people out there that will also enjoy it. However, if you’re looking for a good space action/adventure, you’re better off looking elsewhere.

Enjoyable Sci-fi Noir

****( )

Over the last year I've been digging into the pulpy beginnings of sci-f and fantasy thanks to some recommendations by Erik Mona at last years GenCon. Template fits right in. Interesting characters... well developed world... enough hints to make me curious for other Archonate books. I liked the story's core mystery that imparts a "noir-ish" feel without rehashing The Maltese Falcon. Most of all, I enjoyed watching the main character develop over the course of the novel. Recommended!

****( )

I think the author said this might be a little Vancian, and he is probably right, there. That being said, I am no big Jack Vance man, so not the greatest reason to read a book, for me.

The protagonist is a professional game 'Player', working for a master who hires him out to other wealthy players, and also uses his knowledge to make plenty on the betting market, as well.

The whole society that surrounds this gaming is completely focused on money and simple contracts as being pretty much the be-all and end-all. The gaming setup can be virtual, so you can have multiplayer swordfights, or whatever, with no-one actually getting stabbed for real, and it seems these environments work well.

All this standard day to day existence is broken up upon the murder of the man who is the closest thing to a friend that our man Conn has.

An off-world woman, an object to be worked out, and some secrets of why people were literally trying to take him out, need to be found.

That is all pretty straightforward, but the super-competent and confident Larbro has his eyes opened as he goes off planet and encounters other people and races that behave and believe in ways and things that are completely foreign to him. This includes another planet with a dedication to a different sport, so some fun to be had.

There are some twists coming I didn't see, and the end is certainly an improvement, even if throwing in a concept or two that perhaps should have been mentioned or hinted at earlier. Gift Certificates
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