Line War by Neal Asher (Agent Cormac 5)

The Polity is under attack from the renegade AI Orbus but the plan seems uncoordinated and random. What is the real plan? Polity agent Ian Cormac has to put all the pieces together in this concluding volume of the Cormac Saga. Here is my view.

Title: Line War
Series: Agent Cormac 5
Author: Neal Asher
Paperback: 496 pages
Genre: Space Opera | Military Science Fiction
Publisher: Tor 2008
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The Polity is under attack from a ‘melded’ AI entity with control of the lethal Jain technology, yet the attack seems to have no coherence. When one of Erebus’ worm ships kills millions on the world of Klurhammon, a high-tech agricultural world of no real tactical significance, agent Ian Cormac is sent to investigate, though he is secretly struggling to control a new ability no human being should possess…and beginning to question the motives of his AI masters.

Further attacks and seemingly indiscriminate slaughter ensue, but only serve to bring some of the most dangerous individuals in the Polity into the war. Mr Crane, the indefatigable brass killing machine sets out for vengeance, while Orlandine, a vastly-augmented haiman who herself controls Jain technology, seeks a weapon of appalling power and finds allies from an ancient war. Meanwhile Mika, scientist and Dragon expert, is again kidnapped by that unfathomable alien entity and dragged into the heart of things: to wake the makers of Jain technology from their five-million-year slumber.

But Erebus’ attacks are not so indiscriminate, after all, and could very well herald the end of the Polity itself…


This is the final Cormac Novel as far as I know, the ending is open but with good closure so there might be future stories. There are three important points of view in the story Cormac’s, Mika’s and Vulture’s.

Agent Cormac is as usual the main protagonist. Mika is Cormac’s love interest and the one the Dragon choose to communicate with. Vulture is again a ship accompanying Mr Crane.

World building

As usual Neal build a coherent well thought out future world as the setting for his story. The Polity is one of the better ones I have seen and I like that it is not the perfect world, it got flaws and the players human, haimen and ai’s all have their weaknesses.


Orbus makes his play for the Polity with massive diversion attacks along the Line while he hold his real plan a secret. I thought that part was well thought out and was believable as was the Polity AI’s responses. Here you get mighty space battles with huge loses of life and equipment. It disturbs me a bit the casual way thousands of deaths is treated but then I realize that is exactly the way emotionless machines would see it.

All the players are being played in true spy thriller tradition and each step in the plot reveals deceit after deceit until the true players are revealed in the end.

Cormac tries to understand the randomness of the attacks together with his drone sidekick and Jerusalem. They start to make progress when they get help from an unlikely source.

Mika’s sejour with the Dragon is an amazing thrilling journey to the roots of the Jain technology and the gruesome deceit at its bottom.


This is a story about revelations and Cormac has fears that he might be an avatar of some distant AI like Horace Blegg especially with his newfound powers. That question keeps us in suspense up until the end.

I love the characters even the ones on the ‘evil’ side. I would have liked a bit more on Cormac and Mika but then I am a sucker for love.

My View

Line War is a good ending to the Cormac Saga. The onion is pealed, the truths revealed and the guilty punished what more is there? Well, there is an opening for future Cormac stories but I haven’t scryed any such intensions from Mr Asher. I have been taken in by the Polity universe so I have The Skinner and The Voyage of the Sable Keech marked down for summer reading.