The Labyrinth Index (Laundry, Files #9)
The arrival of vast, alien, inhuman intelligences reshaped the landscape for human affairs across the world, and the United Kingdom is no exception. Things have changed in Britain since the dread elder god Nyarlathotep ascended to the rank of Prime Minister. Mhari Murphy, recently elevated to the House of Lords and head of the Lords Select Committee on Sanguinary Affairs (think vampires), finds herself in direct consultation with the creeping chaos, who directs her to lead a team of disgraced Laundry personnel into the dark heart of America. It seems the Creeping Chaos is concerned about foreign relations.A thousand-mile-wild storm system has blanketed the midwest, and the President is nowhere to be found. In fact, for reasons unknown the people of America are forgetting that the executive branch ever existed. The government has been infiltrated by the shadowy Black Chamber, and the Pentagon and NASA have been refocused on the problem of summoning Cthulhu.Somewhere, the Secret Service battle to stay awake, to remind the President who he is, and to stay one step ahead of the vampiric dragnet that’s searching for him.

The Labyrinth Index (Laundry, Files #9) Details

TitleThe Labyrinth Index (Laundry, Files #9)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 30th, 2018
PublisherTor.com
Rating
GenreHorror, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction, Fiction

The Labyrinth Index (Laundry, Files #9) Review

  • Jacqie
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book for review.It's weird to think of a book describing the Lovecraftian singularity as comfort reading, yet it is for me. At least, I reach for the Laundry Files whenever I need a sure thing, a book I know I'll like and read as fast as I can. Thank you, Charles Stross, for continuing to turn these out regularly! This one came along just when I needed it.Bob and Mo do not appear in this book except very briefly. Mhari the HR vampire (no, really, Thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book for review.It's weird to think of a book describing the Lovecraftian singularity as comfort reading, yet it is for me. At least, I reach for the Laundry Files whenever I need a sure thing, a book I know I'll like and read as fast as I can. Thank you, Charles Stross, for continuing to turn these out regularly! This one came along just when I needed it.Bob and Mo do not appear in this book except very briefly. Mhari the HR vampire (no, really, she's a vampire) is the POV character. Stross has leveled up Bob and Mo to the point where they realistically aren't going to be seeing a lot of the action that makes reading a book like this fun. I have a feeling that when the apocalypse really gets rolling they'll be called to action again, but for now the stakes aren't world-endingly high, although things are pretty terrible. When Nyarlathotep is your best best for the creature to ally with as least likely to end humanity because he at least thinks humans are kind of fun to play with and useful minions, you know you're in a bad way. Mhari (and all the UK) are now Nyarlathotep's to use as he pleases. And he pleases to send Mhari along with a team of expendables to the US. The President is no longer remembered by any of the public that he is supposed to lead, and this is a Bad Sign that yet another super-powerful eldritch horror is making its move. I don't want to talk too much about the plot because that's enough spoilers, really. I do want to talk about what works for me with these books. Stross has got the knack of ramping up tension and of creating a just-sideways world that is endlessly fascinating. In this universe, everyone's doomed, really. They are just raging against the dying of the light, trying to hold on as long as they can before everyone's soul is spun into a power grid for gibbering horrors to snack upon. It feels a bit too close for comfort in this year of kleptocracy, blatant treasonous behavior by our leaders and indifference to it by their minions, climate change denial, and evil coming out into the open again, eager for blood. We're all doomed, really. Or are we? Mhari hints just slightly that something's in the works that she's not able to share, some desperate play that may keep hope alive in the future. That's not the purpose of this book, though. So, it was fun. Best Laundry book ever? No. Mhari has a guy that she calls Fuckboy through the entire book- I didn't find this amusing any more than I'd find a guy character calling his main squeeze Fuckgirl, in other words not at all. The plot's a bit all over the place, and it's hard to put the pieces together. But that's part of the point of a Stross book- a bunch of stuff that looks random that ends up falling into place in a really cool way. You just keep reading along faster and faster for that Aha moment. It's darkly funny, it's poignant, it's just a bit challenging, and I'll keep reading them as fast as they come out.
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  • rixx
    January 1, 1970
    **The Labyrinth Index**, the latest entry in *Charlie Stross*' Laundry Files series … escalates. When the last volume of the Laundry Files ended fairly apocalyptic, I was under the impression that Charlie was fed up with reality overtaking his books pre-publication, and escalated to a level reality isn't yet willing to follow.The Labyrinth Index introduces Mhari as the protagonist and POV character, which I found refreshing and nice. Laundry protagonists are a bit chancy, for me – Mo was part gr **The Labyrinth Index**, the latest entry in *Charlie Stross*' Laundry Files series … escalates. When the last volume of the Laundry Files ended fairly apocalyptic, I was under the impression that Charlie was fed up with reality overtaking his books pre-publication, and escalated to a level reality isn't yet willing to follow.The Labyrinth Index introduces Mhari as the protagonist and POV character, which I found refreshing and nice. Laundry protagonists are a bit chancy, for me – Mo was part great, part meh, and Alex was 90% annoying. Mhari is about as good as Mo, for me, and maybe a bit more evenly written (or the transition to yet-another-protagonist is less jarring than to the first non-Bob one). Bob and Mo are not part of this story, btw – we accompany Mhari on a field mission to the US, where the conflicts between the UK's new Lord and the US' new Lord are dunked out.I enjoyed the plot, which is fast-paced and surprisingly well-explained. Maybe it's my imagination, but I think the recent Laundry books leave less to the reader's deductive reasoning and explain and show more in detail what's actually going on. Instead, the subtle clues now concern side action that will mostly become relevant in a later volume. Like the last book, a lot of characters are drawn from previous books, but it's more of a solid recurring cast, and less of a "Use ALL the characters", which we had last time.As usually, the book is well paced (and by that I mean: escalating consistently), well-researched, clever, and plain fun. It goes deeper into gross and disgusting aspects of the Elder Management than previously, which can be a bit graphic (not that I'm complaining, just as a heads-up to other readers). It may not be the best Laundry book, but it meets all my expectations and then some.
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  • David Harris
    January 1, 1970
    I'm grateful to the publisher for an advance copy of this book (thanks Nazia!)Stross's Laundry Files are now, I think, his most numerous and long lasting series, running to eight or nine novels (with The Labyrinth Index) and several novellas and short stories (depending how you count the stories in The Atrocity Archives, the first book).While always having at its centre The Laundry itself, the UK's occult service ("occult secret service" would be a tautology, no?) which is lovingly portrayed wit I'm grateful to the publisher for an advance copy of this book (thanks Nazia!)Stross's Laundry Files are now, I think, his most numerous and long lasting series, running to eight or nine novels (with The Labyrinth Index) and several novellas and short stories (depending how you count the stories in The Atrocity Archives, the first book).While always having at its centre The Laundry itself, the UK's occult service ("occult secret service" would be a tautology, no?) which is lovingly portrayed with all its bureaucratic quirks and terrors, the books really come into their own in disassembling and rebuilding the Lovecraft mythos to fit a world of coders, geeks and cubicles. Stross has lots of fun with this (and with geek culture more generally) but there's no disguising the cosmic horror that increasingly hangs over these books.As The Labyrinth Index opens with a particularly chilling execution scene, CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN is active and the Laundry has fallen, with the Black Pharaoh, N'yar Lat-Hotep, assuming power as the UK's Prime Minister. The New Management is in charge, the lesser of two evils, apparently. Well, at least it's a change from the previous Government, and should liven things up? They can't really be that bad?I mean, things can't get any worse, can they?Can they...?I really take my hat off to the way Stross has followed through the logic of power politics to root his Lovecraftian singularity in a firmly credible, modern day setting. The world of the Laundry Files is not all crazed cultists in the woods but well-financed televangelists, crooked bankers and, of course, venal politicians. Very much like our own. And over the series the cast of characters in these books has expanded to reflect this, Stross introducing not only new human members of the Laundry staff but elves, vampires and superheroes too, all of it plausibly done with explanations for everything rooted in the idea that computation is magic.In The Labyrinth Index, the Prime Minister commands His servants to investigate why the US President has gone missing. A complex, if desperate plan is devised to infiltrate the United States (with the US equivalent of the Laundry referred to as the Nazgûl, the line "One does not simply walk into Mordor" can be deployed unironically...) The activity here is underpinned by the usual meticulous degree of research, and it could, you know, all perfectly well work, given the premise of computational demonology.Central to all this is Mhairi, the PHANG who did actually appear in The Atrocity Archives but then faded from sight for a while. She has the central role in this book, as Baroness Karnstein, the new PM's fixer but is supported by, for the first time, pretty much everyone we've met so far (including an elven vampire necromancer who's on the autistic spectrum. Great to meet you, Marisol!) In fact almost the only regular characters we see little of are Bob, who has new responsibilities as avatar of the Eater of Souls, and Mo. Hopefully they'll be back again soon but in the meantime it's good to see this story told through other eyes. Mhairi is an engaging lead, concealing a fair amount of her history from us but also clearly wracked by shock and guilt that she has to consume blood to live.Guilt is fairly widespread in fact as the very act of submitting to N'yar Lat-Hotel takes its toll, even if He is a relatively sparing Lord. In the USA the Black Chamber have taken a different tack, and for once it's hard to argue that our friends in the Laundry are on firmer moral ground, even if the entity they deal with seems less far reaching in His evil. All choices are bad, everything leads to ruin, seems to be the subtext.But while the world merrily rattles off to Hell in its accelerating handcart, we can still have some fun - the bone violin plays a good jig - and The Labyrinth Index serves plenty of that up, whether you're into a solid, clever plot, sly humour with a point (there's a running gag about the problems in the US - when people go to sleep, they forget who the President is, allowing his enemies to write him out of reality. So there are plenty of allusions to those who know what's going as being "awake"... but not everyone wants to be awake...) or just excellent storytelling.At the same time, the book moves us forward into Stross's Apocalypse. The tipping point in this universe was reached, I think, a couple of books ago, but so far it hasn't been clear what exact form the catastrophe might take. Now things seem to be getting clearer, and the pace picking up.In short this series shows no sign of tailing off, rather it seems to be getting stronger and stronger. I really can't wait to see what Stross serves up next.
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  • David
    January 1, 1970
    This review is based on an ARC given to me for free by the publisher via Netgalley. This does not in any way affect my review. This book is slated for release on October 30, 2018.The Laundry books started as pastiches of spy thrillers and then went into urban fantasy. In a way The Labyrinth Index has come full circle. It is an out and out spy thriller, albeit one cloaked in the trappings of Stross’s Laundry. Lovecraft-styled fantasy, now rapidly dealing up towards eleven - the series is probably This review is based on an ARC given to me for free by the publisher via Netgalley. This does not in any way affect my review. This book is slated for release on October 30, 2018.The Laundry books started as pastiches of spy thrillers and then went into urban fantasy. In a way The Labyrinth Index has come full circle. It is an out and out spy thriller, albeit one cloaked in the trappings of Stross’s Laundry. Lovecraft-styled fantasy, now rapidly dealing up towards eleven - the series is probably at about six right now - and taking just enough inspiration from recent political movements in the anglo-world before being twisted into non-euclidean angles.It’s a Mhari book. Mo is mentioned, Bob has a couple of lines in a scene you can just about not realise it is even him. Stross has posited that the Laundry has grown sufficiently that he can take the Pratchett approach. That is, multiple semi-separate series with their own casts that occasionally cross over and plots that reference each other. I can’t recall if Stross has ever expressed the idea, but lately I have wondered if he ever regrets her early characterisations. Yes, it’s all from Bob’s perspective, an at-the-time callow jerk and unreliable, but all the same. She’s considerably more three dimensional now. I really enjoy the non-Bob perspectives and I am glad we now see Bob and Mo from the outside.I’m less enamoured of the out right adaption of the Nyarlathotep and Cthulhu, but it’s personal taste. I like it Lovecraftian, not “Lovecraft was a weirdo who knew some things that happened to be real”. Although I am amused how Stross - almost certainly - lampshades that his “Real Cthulhu” is inspired by what creeps him out.
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  • Kam
    January 1, 1970
    This review is based on an ARC given to me for free by the publisher via Netgalley. This does not in any way affect my review. This book is slated for release on October 30, 2018....there are still aspects of this book that readers will find enjoyable – in particular, the characters. I am glad that the author has started writing about the female characters of his series, and was especially pleased with his portrayal of Mo O’Brien in The Annihilation Score. When I found out that The Labyrinth Ind This review is based on an ARC given to me for free by the publisher via Netgalley. This does not in any way affect my review. This book is slated for release on October 30, 2018....there are still aspects of this book that readers will find enjoyable – in particular, the characters. I am glad that the author has started writing about the female characters of his series, and was especially pleased with his portrayal of Mo O’Brien in The Annihilation Score. When I found out that The Labyrinth Index would be narrated by Mhari, I was doubly excited because it would be a chance for readers to really get to know her, as opposed to knowing about her from Bob and Mo who are, it must be admitted, not exactly unbiased when it comes to their opinions about her. The Labyrinth Index reveals that, while there is a reason Bob and Mhari did not get along, and why Mo’s reservations about her are somewhat justified, there is more to her than what Bob and Mo have said about her. I would not say that she is a very good person, but she is an interesting character, flawed and broken but – and this is the important bit – capable of overcoming her weaknesses for the greater good (and the survival of herself and those she values, of course). I do not like her as much as I like Mo, but at the very least she is interesting and entirely human.Full review here: https://wp.me/p21txV-GD
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  • Mark
    January 1, 1970
    Well, that escalated quickly.With Bob stuck in a box marked "open only in case of apocalypse", the new POV character is Mhari, previously seen contracting a nasty case of vampirism and then parlaying it into a top job. This isn't a side story though: with that apocalypse very clearly looming on the horizon, the many actors - human or otherwise - are jockeying for position, and Mhari is tasked by the New Management of the UK with finding out exactly what the Americans are up to, and let's just sa Well, that escalated quickly.With Bob stuck in a box marked "open only in case of apocalypse", the new POV character is Mhari, previously seen contracting a nasty case of vampirism and then parlaying it into a top job. This isn't a side story though: with that apocalypse very clearly looming on the horizon, the many actors - human or otherwise - are jockeying for position, and Mhari is tasked by the New Management of the UK with finding out exactly what the Americans are up to, and let's just say the main plot gets significantly advanced here, with a lot of old threads being woven together here to satisfying effect. The concept of what's going on in the US made me both chuckle and wince simultaneously (while the situation in the UK just made me wince). I'm not sure that the situation set up in the first two-thirds gets quite the resolution it deserves, but possibly that's because it was such a clever idea that rounding it off is a tall order. Nevertheless, this is still a high point in the later Laundry books and if you're a fan of the series you should grab it immediately.
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  • Eric
    January 1, 1970
    Well, that was worth the waitI've had this book on pre-order for months, happily so after having read the first eight in the series at least twice each. This one was superb and I can see myself re-reading it starting sometime this week.
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