Dark Intelligence (Polity: Transformation #1) ★★★★½

f5c20b1147913d15c73b181229ed7c8cThis review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Dark Intelligence
Series: Polity: Transformation #1
Author: Neal Asher
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 416
Format: Digital Edition



Thorvald Spear wakes up in a hospital. Which is odd, because he remembers being killed by a Polity AI named Penny Royal, almost 100 years ago, an AI that was supposed to be rescuing him and his men on a Prador occupied world. With his memory still a bit glitchy, Spear does know one thing for certain, Penny Royal must die.

Spear tracks down Penny Royal’s old spaceship. With the help of a powerful gangster named Isabel Satomi, who made a deal of her own with Penny Royal and is now regretting it, Spear plans on tracking Penny Royal down to whatever hidden lair it’s hiding in. With Satomi’s transformation having gone a bit further than anticipated (she’s turning into a hooder), Spear abandons her and sets out on his own.

Satomi wanted revenge on Penny Royal for the changes it started in her. But with Spear’s betrayal, she’ll happily kill him too. She heads to a world in the Graveyard (an area of space between the Polity and the Prador Kingdom where neither has an official presence) where she can gather her forces and pursue Spear and then Penny Royal. While on The Rock Pool, a world ruled by a prador named Sverl who also made a deal with Penny Royal, the other Prador revolt against Sverl and he is forced to help Satomi if either of them want to survive.

All during this time Penny Royal has been dancing around and through everything, apparently orchestrating “something”. It shows up at Masada, an apparent guest of the newly sentient Atheter. Both Spear and Satomi also show up at Masada. Satomi is now a complete biomech warmachine, like the Technician before its demise. With such a weapon, the Atheter can now claim full control of Masada and kick the Polity out.

Satomi’s consciousness is pulled from the hooder into a crystal memplant. Spear realizes he has been manipulated this whole time so Penny Royal can begin making good on all the bad things it did while a Black AI.


My Thoughts:

The only reason I didn’t give this 5 stars this time around was because there was a very awkward, unnecessary and completely gratuitous sex scene ¾ of the way through the book. Other than that, I loved this book, again.

It has only been about 4 years since I initially read this but that is something like 600 books ago, so this was a good refresher. I remembered some of the larger details but that didn’t in anyway detract from my enjoyment.

The first time I read this Penny Royal kind of came out of leftfield because I hadn’t been paying any attention to mentions of it in previous Polity books. On my re-read of the Polity, I paid more attention to that and now it is paying dividends.

Asher is not telling disconnected stories all set in his Polity universe. Each series builds on the previous ones but without turning into a Never Ending Series. Each series has a definite beginning and a definite end, as does each book. You have no idea how much I appreciate an author that still writes that way.

I would not recommend starting Asher’s Polity with this book. While you could, I guess, there is just too much in the background that you need to have read in his previous book for this to make sense.



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20 thoughts on “Dark Intelligence (Polity: Transformation #1) ★★★★½

    1. In Asher’s defense, he does do a bit of explaining for anyone new, but really, you might pass over something and not even realize how important it is.

      so yep, NOT the place to start him 😀


  1. Yeah, I wanted to ask that too: what’s a hooder?

    Anyhow, what would be a good place to start Asher. Never read him. For one reason or another his books came across as a bit popcorny, but this seems nice…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A hooder is a nigh-indestructible creature that eats other creatures alive by flencing (I think that is the correct term anyway) the meat and fats from the victims’ bones.

      Start with Gridlinked, That is his first book and the first in the Agent Cormac books. That will give you an idea if he’s for you or not. Personally, while he wrote several series at the same time, I’ve always recommended the Agent Cormac series, then the Spatterjay trilogy, then the standalones, then the Transformation trilogy. He’s almost done with his next trilogy, so by the time you polished off all his other stuff you’d have a new trilogy to feast on.
      Plus his “Owner” trilogy, which is tied in tangentially to the Polity books.

      Don’t know if that helps or hinders 😀


  2. I’m seeing a lot of authors building upon their previous series, while still allowing each series to start and end. It’s definitely most rewarding for fans who have been following an author from the beginning though.

    Sounds like a decent book, except for the gratuitous sex scene. Is that new? Or something he’s experimenting? 😛

    Liked by 1 person

        1. It would be like watching a professional, successful basketball player suddenly try to play the clarinet in front of a vast audience, convinced of his own greatness, at clarinet playing. It’s that writhing in your seat “I’m embarrassed for them” kind of feeling.

          The kicker is, it doesn’t add to the book in any way and could be completely left out. He’s done that very successfully, in other books 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I’m hoping by the time I’ve worked my way through all of his stuff that he’ll be finished with his new trilogy (book 2 just came out a month or so ago) and I can dive on in to that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Every time I read one of your reviews of Asher’s HUGE series, my curiosity fires back up and I promise myself “one of these days…”. Well, today I made the first step by looking at what might be the correct reading order for his massive collection of novels. It’s a start, isn’t it? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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