The third book in Morden’s Petrovich trilogy finds our hero standing as a figure of rebellion, symbolically trying to rescue the AI that the Americans tried to destroy in the previous book. His city is starting to rebuild itself, but his personal life has slid into a series of of soap opera plots. Once again, there are a series of international conspiracies that all seem to circle around him – the Americans want to make sure the AI named Michael is done once and for all, an American lawyer is going to perform some legal magic to free his colleague from unjust imprisonment, and there may be a very old atomic bomb sitting in the middle of the reconstruction.
There is a lot going on in the book, some of it carried over from the earlier books, but a lot of these plots kind of come from nowhere and focus on characters we barely know. It is all overly complicated, with too many storylines depending on world building that Morden never actually did.
Worst of all, for me, is that Morden had created all these potentially great female characters to surround Petrovitch, a genius with terrible social skills but with an inspiring vision of the future, someone who can represent hope. You would think that might be enough in a post-Armageddon world, but no. OF COURSE NOT. Previous books established that Petrovitch and Maddy were deeply in love, for little apparent reason, and that Sonja (the Yakuza heir apparent and virtual mayor of London) was also in love with him. That was unlikely enough, but then now badass explosives expert Valentina comes out and refers to wanting to make little Communist babies with him, if only he could see what was good for him. I was so angry. The characterization was already pretty thin, but now the reason Valentina was around was because she was also in love with Petrovitch? It is so disappointing – can the women in this book have any reason for existing outside of devotion to Petrovitch? I was so mad about that one statement that it likely coloured my opinion of the 3rd book, and maybe the whole series.