There can be few fans of the original TV adventures of Blake’s 7 who haven’t speculated about events beyond the end of Season 4. With Vila, Dayna, Tarrant and Soolin shot dead and Blake’s body at his feet, Avon smiles at the surrounding Federation troops and raises his gun. Shots sound over the closing credits, and the fate of the show’s most complex character is forever unresolved. Until now.
It has taken the actor behind Kerr Avon, Paul Darrow, to construct the (presumably canon) story of what happened after that fade to black. The first part of a planned trilogy, Lucifer reveals a Federation broken by a vicious war against alien invaders, and replaced by a ruling Quartet of dysfunctional individuals. Behind them, however, the figure of one time President Servalan still looms large.
The opening third of this novel is a thrilling read, detailing several attempts by Quartet soldiers to forcibly extract Avon from the planet Gaius 7, where he has been stranded for years. From then, we flashback to the events immediately following the episode Blake. I won’t reveal what happens here, only that the violent treatment of the bodies of Avon’s colleagues seems rather sadistic. That could make for some interesting conversations in the Big Finish green room when the cast regroup for new audios later this month.
Sadly, the novel devotes too many of its 200 odd pages to the machinations of the Quartet, which seem to play out over an interminable number of dinner parties. Most of the new characters lack any real depth, and there is rather too much planet hopping in the final third of the book. Most disappointing of all, the telegraphed reunion of Avon and Servalan is at best perfunctory.
Darrow really needed the guiding hand of a collaborator, or maybe a firmer editor, to punch up the prose. Reading Lucifer, I was frequently reminded of Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars sequels, which had a similarly hefty backstory to shoulder with new and unfamiliar characters, yet did so with significantly more narrative drive. Hopefully Darrow and Big Finish can address this for the remaining books in the trilogy, and give Avon the rich afterlife that both the character, and his fans deserve.