Wrath of the Lemming Men by Toby Frost

From the depths of Space a new foe rises to do battle with mankind: the British Space Empire is threatened by the lemming-people of Yull, ruthless enemies who attack without mercy, fear or any concept of self preservation.

At the call of their war god, the Yull have turned on the Empire, hell bent on conquest and destruction in their rush towards the cliffs of destiny.

When the Yullian army is forced to retreat at the battle of the River Tam, the disgraced Colonel Vock swears revenge on the clan of Suruk the Slayer, Isambard Smith’s homicidal alien friend.

Now Smith and his crew must defend the Empire and civilise the stuffing out of a horde of bloodthirsty lemming-men- which would be easy were it not for a sinister robotics company, a Ghast general with a fondness for genetic engineering and an ancient brotherhood of Morris Dancers- who may yet hold the key to victory…

wrath-of-lemming-menI stumbled across Space Captain Smith (review) and God Emperor of Didcot (review) last year and enjoyed them so much all I can do is recommend them to anyone that will listen, whether they like sci-fi or not. Toby Frost managed to write not only a laugh-out-loud space romp, but one that holds up well enough if you take all the humour away and start looking at the back bone of the stories – the world he has created. It just works so well and because of the fun I had with the first two novels Wrath of the Lemming Men was pretty much my most anticipated book of the year and the sooner I could get it through the letterbox the better. Not only did it meet my expectations, but once again Toby is expanding more and more from the base he set up in Space Captain Smith.

What I enjoyed most about Wrath of the Lemming Men was the fact that we’re now on the third novel and following the crew of the John Pym again through their adventures. I know this sounds simple – and it is – but I feel that when I start reading these characters I’m not only whole heartedly enjoying reading about them, but I’m also running through my mind just what they’ll say and do in the situation they’re in. I feel at home when they come on page – Smith, Carveth, Suruk, Rhianna, they all feel like old friends now.

“Sorry, no. I refuse to join an army which practices human sacrifice and has no adequate pension plan.” – Ashgad Nine-Swords

The bad guys are as bad and awful as ever with Ghast Commander 462 and his evil plots and the Yullian General Vock, one of the Lemming-Men of the title. The bad guys are what brings the novel together and the on page interaction between these two totally different aliens is great. Toby has really hit the nail on the head with the characters and despite the many humorous and tongue-in-cheek moments, he makes them feel like a threat, which is great for our tea-drinking heroes!

The world building this time around seems to have got better, and with two previous books now supporting the universe it’s evident that Toby has taken a little extra time to develop it further. Yes, the jokes and parodies are present in droves, but they fit in to this excellent setting and although it can make it feel light hearted, it also brings a little more depth to the novel.

In the story itself we follow Smith and his crew from planet to planet on the hunt for the Vorl before the Ghast find them. Not only that, but the Yull have joined the battle and want nothing more than to kill all humans, at least when not tempted to jump off cliffs. The story flows well and although a little jumpy, it flies by at such a pace that it doesn’t leave too much down time. However, the slower sections help to show the strengths that Toby has at creating a fairly believable universe. But ultimately, the fun doesn’t stop for too long and we get a great and well rounded tale of adventure.

At the end of the day I could go on about how great Wrath of the Lemming Men is and how much I love the Space Captain Smith books, but I’m sure that would get more than a little annoying no matter how true it is. If you’ve not yet read any of the Space Captain Smith books then you’re not only missing out on a good read, but a great cast of characters and some of the most humorous writing I’ve come across in quite a while.

Go out, buy the book, kick your feet up with some tea and biscuits and enjoy yourself a damned good read!

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