This story's first incarnation was a novella titled Shadow Twin, which was a limited edition published by Subterranean Press in 2005. Unfortunately, I haven't read the novella-length version of this book, so I can't draw comparisons between the two versions. All I can say is that Hunter's Run is a damn good read!
With this being a collaboration between George R. R. Martin, Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham, I was concerned that their different writing styles would result in a work lacking a certain cohesion. I'm glad to report that such is not the case. The whole tale streamlines quite seamlessly and one can never tell where one author's inspiration or style ends and his collaborators' begin.
Survival, identity and loyalty are probably the three main themes explored within the pages of Hunter's Run. And although there's enough action to satisfy most readers, what with the principal protagonist being pursued by aliens across outlandish wilderness, the underlying storyline which carries this novel remains that of Ramon's inner journey.
Ramon, Hunter's Run's main character, is far from being a likeable fellow. Truth to tell, he's quite antipathetic at the beginning. And yet, as it gradually dawns upon him that he might be more than a fry or two short of a good meal, Ramon slowly grows on you. This character growth is without a doubt the most compelling facet of this book.
Even though the supporting cast consists of a number of characters, only Elena and Maneck play important roles in the greater scheme of things. This doesn't mean that the characterization aspect leaves something to be desired. After all, Hunter's Run is, essentially, Ramon's story.
The worldbuilding, though well-done, is not a predominant characteristic in this novel. I have a feeling that the authors would have liked to flesh out certain things a bit more, but that would likely have hindered the flow of the narrative. As a result, the environment, cultures, and the aliens are interesting, but most of the worldbuilding remains in the background and doesn't intrude on the storytelling.
The pace is somewhat slower at first. But once Ramon -- and the reader -- realizes that something is fundamentally wrong, the story takes off and the rhythm quickens accordingly.
To the nay-sayers out there, there is nothing I can write that will make them want to pick up a GRRM work that isn't ASOIAF. So be it. . . In the end, it's too bad, for Hunter's Run is a solid effort and a fun read. If all of Martin's side-projects are this good, few of his fans should complain! Intelligent yet action-packed, with profanities in both English and Spanish, it's quite a joyride!
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