I’ve been sitting on this book for a couple of weeks before finally making a start on it yesterday. It didn’t help that it came out at roughly the same time as Stephen King’s The Wind through the Keyhole. I was trying to decide which would get my attention first, and apparently that was a more difficult choice than I’d anticipated!

I’m only about 60 pages in so far, but, as with Traviss’ other books in the Gears universe, I’m already hooked. It’s been nice to slip back into the lives of these characters after the bittersweet ending of Gears of War 3, and the opening chapters offer the promise of finding out more about Marcus’ mother’s disappearance, as well as finding out just how much Adam Fenix knew before E-Day. It has also already teased the origins of the Locust (Myrrah: “You know what we are, Adam… You know where we came from.”), so it will be interesting to see how close, or indeed far off, some fan theories as to the Locust’s beginnings have been.

As not-so-subtly hinted at by the book’s title, we’ll also be finding out more about Marcus’ time in Jacinto Maximum Security Prison – The Slab. If I’m honest, this is the least compelling background detail to me at this point, though I haven’t yet reached this section and Marcus is still a free man and a Gear, so perhaps it’ll have some surprising twists and turns in store.

I have strange feelings for this book at the moment. I’m enjoying it so much that I want to plough through it, but I also want it to last, as I know it’s going to be the last we’ll see of the Gears universe, at least for these characters, and that honestly makes me a little sad. That said, it’s been a great run of three excellent games and five fantastic, character-driven books, and I’d imagine there’s not much more for these characters to do after the revelations and backstory of The Slab are all said and done.

I guess at least I’ll still have Karen Traviss’ follow-up to her excellent Halo: Glasslands to look forward to.