Polity Agent by Neal Asher (Agent Cormac 4)

Polity agent Ian Cormac returns from the near death experience at the end of the last novel Brass Man. This time he gets a message from the future and more sinister secrets are revealed as he has to track down the ones responsible for spreading Jain nodes in the Polity.

Title: Polity Agent
Series: Agent Cormac 4
Author: Neal Asher
Cover art: Steve Rawlings
Genre: Space Opera | Military Science Fiction
Publisher: Tor / PanMacMillan 2006
Paperback: 496 pages
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From 800 years in the future, a runcible gate is opened into the Polity and those coming through it have been sent specially to take 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. The gate is then dumped into a nearby sun. From those refugees who get through, agent Cormac learns that the Maker civilization has been destroyed by pernicious virus known as the Jain technology. This, of course, raised questions: Why was Dragon, a massive biocontruct of the Makers, really sent to the Polity? And, Why did a Jain node suddenly end up in the hands of someone who could do the most damage with it? Meanwhile an entity called the Legate is distributing pernicious Jain nodes …and a renegade attack ship, The King of Hearts, has encountered something very nasty outside the Polity itself.


ECS Agent Ian Cormac is the protagonist in this fourth Cormac novel.

World building

The story takes place in an universe where benign artificial intelligences rule the Polity where most of humanity reside. The border of the Polity is called the Line and most of the story takes place on or around the Line. ‘The greatest benefits for the most’ are the guiding principle for the Polity and that wakes some deep moral questions.

Horace Blegg’s storyline reveals more of the inner workings of the beings that governs the Polity. All is not peachy among the AI’s as we saw in Brass Man. There are fractions that wants to leave the humans and pursue Jain technology for themselves. One such AI, the warship The King of Hearts goes searching for the AIs that left the Polity at the end of the Prador war to pursue Singularity but he finds something much more frightening.


In this fast paced story of sinister secrets, mighty space battles and suspenseful adventure Polity agent Ian Cormac has to track down and stop the spread of Jain technology in the Polity and find out who is behind it.

The alien civilization-killing Jain technology is like an onion layer after layer is revealed the further we dive into the series. Now we start to see a bigger picture and how the different players tie in to each other. Who and what the Dragon is and his real mission to our galaxy; Who the Legate is and who is maneuvering behind the scene.


Ian Cormac’s progression from emotionless field agent towards a whole human continues and we get to see much more human interaction between him and his associates. Many of the characters from the previous books are back and take on bigger parts like Mika and Thorn.

As always Neal Asher provide delightful and easy to love characters like the war drone who is gagging for a fight after years of boredom and routine. There are also new ships to get to know.

My View

Polity Agent is an intelligent space opera which ponder some big questions like death, identity of self and the dangers of new technology framed in suspenseful and entertaining adventure. You should read the previous books in the series before this one, you won’t be disappointed.