Charon's Landing is the rematch between geologist Philip Mercer and Ivan Kerikov, ex-leader of the KGB's secret science division. Last seen in Vulcan's Forge, the two combatants quickly sense that overcoming each other is the key to success and survival. Their continuing battle is like a championship heavyweight fight, with repeated powerful blows landing on them and bystanders in all directions.
The book differs from Vulcan's Forge in that it has little geological information or plot details, a much simpler plot that takes a while to develop, a love story, and a key focus on sadistic pleasures among its villains. If you don't care much for reading about sadism, you won't like this book. On the other hand, Du Brul succeeds in using it (much like Ian Fleming did) to provide an edge to his villains. I graded the book down one star because the sadism was overdone for my taste.
If you decide to read the book, avoid reading any detailed reviews or the material on the book's cover before you begin. The story itself will provide lots of suspense for about 300 pages if you do. In that sense, it is superior to Vulcan's Forge. Otherwise, you will find the first 300 pages move a little slowly.
The double crosses within are a quality Du Brul trademark, and provide the main suspense in keeping the story interesting to the end. The last 50 pages are about as action-packed as you can imagine.
A high point of the book comes in the remarkable ways that Du Brul designed to help Mercer rescue the world again. They are truly fascinating and bring the book to an exciting and powerful close.
Philip Mercer is the ultimate bureaucracy stallbuster. Enjoy!
Coauthor of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise (available in August 2000) and The 2,000 Percent Solution