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Very bloody, very circusy and very Manna

Blood & Circuses - Manna Francis

This is the first new Manna Francis book in nearly 5 years, being a big fan, I was hungry for this. And...hunger satisfied. The book is mostly made up of two I & I investigative novellas, so if you like that sort of thing, you're in luck. If you want purely T&W domestic shenanigans, you might be left less than completely satisfied.

Innocent Blood. This is the novella where Toreth visits America on a case where a European Administration embassy based doctor is accused of performing an abortion. This America is the puritanical dystopian ying to the Administration's godless bureaucratic yang. They are both oppressive places, each having their own special brand of tyranny. As we all know, Toreth is a survivor who takes his environment as a given and figures out how to work within its parameters. What gives this story its charm is that Toreth is taken out of his environment and finds himself a bit gobsmacked by it all. In this one, Toreth is unwillingly paired with a new socioanalyst named Grimm who poses as Toreth's investigator. I suspect we will meet her again. IMO, watching Toreth work is a thing of beauty, an Innocent Blood gives the reader a front row seat to that show.

Weekend Plans. This is a 'meanwhile, back at the ranch' type of story where we get caught up with Toreth, Warrick and Sara. There is some new business and some old business, and a very special moment between T&W.

Constellation of Falling Stars. I almost think it could have been an editing error that this made it as a standalone story. Technically, it served as a prologue to the next novella, For Your Entertainment, and featured all new characters. It was fewer than 10 pages. Of course, it's possible that I totally missed something important.
no rating

For Your Entertainment. This was another I&I procedural that featured B-C, with Toreth and Sara making cameo appearances. I mentioned in my updates that it might have been inspired by 1D fanfics. I really don't know much about 1D other than they are a popular boy band and that shipping the various band mates is a global pastime. Let me be clear, I don't think this is 1D fanfic, but I do think the idea of an uber popular boy band group makes a fertile plot bunny. I can only imagine how these bands have handlers and minders and endure a good bit of exploitation, all for their art, fame and fortune. Now imagine such a group controlled by corporates in the bureaucratic Administration, add in some futurology and you have some interesting reading.
4.5 stars

Some general thoughts... (not really spoilers but you may want to save till after you read...)
Overall, this book seemed to have more world building than all of the previous 7 TA books combined. I don't know about you, but it took me a few books to figure out the corporates and administration and their delicate balancing act for power and control. Manna Francis has always been a show-don't-tell type of writer, so it never bothered me that I didn't get it off the bat. Setting the first novella in America made it easy to include descriptive information via comparisons of the two cultures. It also gave a small kernel of insight into how this fictional world order came to be. The second novella illustrated some of the absurdities relating to celebrity culture in a futuristic society, and again the visual of what life is like in New London became a bit clearer.

One last note, this is the first physical book that I have read in a few years. Boy oh boy did I miss the ability to jack up the typeface size. Reading this was a humbling experience to my old lady eyes.


Lastly, please stop by The Administration Zone for general discussions, or the book discussion thread Blood & Circuses *spoilers*