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Clocking in at a shade under 400 pages and with a stylish black and red cover, REVENANT sees Sunnydale in the grip of a Chinese threat.

To the average citizens that threat is in the form of the Black Wind, a triad gang which has recently arrived in the town. Not only do they rob Willy's bar and threaten the cashier in a drugstore but they also disrupt the Mayor's game of miniature golf!

But since the novel is set in April 1999, Mayor Wilkins obviously has other things on his mind and he only makes a cameo appearance in events here. However, businessman Chengxian Zhiyong, who was also at the miniature golf course with the Mayor, plays a much larger role in the action.

Given the novel's length, there's a chance for almost every season three character (except for Faith, who's absent as usual) to get a fair chunk of the action. This even extends to Joyce, through the handy fact that Zhiyong is using the gallery to import an important artifact.

However, it's the Scooby Gang themselves are the main focus of attention. The extra page count allows Odom to split them up and devote the first third or so to their various encounters with the novel's main protagonists over the course of a night.

Despite this, the more detailed than usual descriptions of scenes and characters and the novel's use of Chinese culture as a backdrop, there are plenty of familiar elements at work here as well. One of the Scooby Gang has a new-found friend who provides their link to the main threat, Xander falls for the new girl in town (a sword-wielding martial arts babe) and the use of Joyce's gallery, to name but three. Even the use of Chinese culture isn't wholly original within the BUFFY novels and some of the TV series' more annoying features, such as the tendency for a character to mishear/mispronounce something for "comic" effect, rear their heads.

REVENANT's plot is certainly one of the more epic ones seen in the Pocket Books series, with everyone getting their turn in the limelight. However, it also tends to stretch things out just a little too much, with several lengthy fight scenes and some padding.

Nevertheless, it's an pretty enjoyable read, if perhaps a slightly longer one than it really needs to have been. BACK TO THE TOP

REVENANT

Written by MEL ODOM

POCKET BOOKS

£5.99


RATING: 7/10


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THE BOOK OF FOURS

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PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW