October 01, 2017

James Wymore & Aiden James: "Return of the Saboteur"

Title: Return of the Saboteur [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: The Actuator (2nd of 4 books, but there's also a set of short stories which is Book 1.5)
Author: James Wymore [Site | Goodreads] & Aiden James
[Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Year: 2015
Age: It's marketed as an adult book, but it can be read by teens without any problem
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Creative premise. Breathless adventure (though there's a lot of internal monologue as well). Constant change of scenery. Sheds more light on the Actuator and the people who have been involved with it.
Cons: Essentially a "male" book, where the main female characters end up needing to be saved. Some of the worlds would be interesting to explore, but are barely skimmed. As in Book 1, a handful of (harmless) typos that apparently escaped revision.
Will appeal to: Alternate realities enthusiasts. RPG fans. Readers who get bored easily.

Blurb: The Machine Monks fight to keep control of the Actuator while enemies attack the base. As besiegers wear them down, the rest of the world struggles to adapt to the chaos left in the wake of the great change. Their only choice is to push forward and find the next key and shutdown the fantasy realm surrounding the base. When they do, Xenwyn will die. Haunted by the incalculable death toll all over the earth, Jon accepts the mission to recover the next key. Desperate to keep Xenwyn alive, Red determines to find a magical cure before Jon gets back with the key. Seeing all his friends in turmoil, Dragon Star sets out to find the saboteur. None of them ever imagined the Actuator could still make the world even worse. (Amazon excerpt)

Review:  First off...DISCLAIMER: I am a semi-regular reviewer of Curiosity Quills titles (like this one), but if you look back at my ratings, this never prevented me from being unbiased. It's just that they have so many (sometimes underrated) gems under their belt.


The sequel to Fractured Earth takes place three months after the events in Book 1, and follows a bunch of Machine Monks (one of them being introduced for the first time) on their quest to restore reality as it used to be...or to achieve more personal goals. Despite my rating mirroring the one for Fractured Earth, this installment is actually more enjoyable than its predecessor, world-wise. The reasons why the aforementioned rating stayed the same have been stated in the Cons, and will be explored further in my review - but let me make this clear: The Actuator is a great series for those who like alternate realities, also because we can see how the people (and their possessions/transportations) that travel across the virtual boundaries between worlds are affected by the change, sometimes even emotionally. I have to say that we get to see more fantasy/steampunk realms than anything else, while personally, I would have liked a touch more of sci-fi, or at least some kind of contemporary setting where the ordinary rules were turned upside down somehow. Then again, the device some of the Machine Monks use in order to travel from world to world is definitely sci-fi (though conveniently, it works in any realm), and following our heroes on their different paths provides a high dose of entertainment. [...]


The strength of this series to me lies in the different worlds and their impact on the characters more than in the characters themselves. I'm not saying they're not interesting, but I ended up caring more for their adventures than I did for their plights. There are all kinds of moral dilemmas coming with the Actuator of course - for example, the Monks from the Untouched House (like Cindy and Glass) are in charge of restoring the world once the gang manages to shut down the Actuator, but Glass is afraid her understanding of the world as it was is slipping away. However, in the end, what really kept me going was the variety of settings and the constant surprise they provided. I would have liked to see more of certain worlds though, while - as I said - they were barely skimmed. Harry Potter and Doctor Who mini-realms are mentioned (though not actually called by their names), but the coolest things are a video-game world where everything and everyone gets pixelated (only seen in passing) and...Neverland, which is the target of Red's quest (since he thinks his beloved Xenwyn can get a magical cure there, if they only can reach it), but actually gets very little screen time. This being said, ROTS will take you on a wild and rewarding journey, especially if you're a fan of fantasy and steampunk 😃.


If I have a real complaint about this series, it's that its female characters - of which there's no shortage - often end up taking a backseat. Two of them are facing a mortal danger, and both have men trying to save them; one falls right into a trap; another one has built herself a realm where her romantic dreams can be fulfilled (which implies having a made-up boyfriend). Also, there's a twist in the end that I was easily able to see coming. But again, the charm of this series mostly lies in its premise and the wild adventures it takes us on. I can't wait to see how the gang will be able to restore the world (assuming they can), and what new moral issues will ensue because of their actions...

For my "Fractured Earth" review (first installment in the series) click here.
For my "Borderlands Anthology" review (installment 1.5 in the series) click here.
For my "Chaos Chronicles" review (third installment in the series) click here. 
For more Adult books click here.

Return of the Saboteur old cover


  1. Not my kind of read but the adventures sound pretty cool - especially getting pixelated lol

    For What It's Worth

    1. Yep! As I said, I would have liked to see more of certain worlds instead of getting a passing glance.

  2. I love that you try to find books that haven't gotten a lot of attention! It's a great way to find amazing, forgotten stories.

    Machine Monks?! Now that sounds interesting.

    1. Thank you! And welcome back to blogging (Karen gave us a heads-up LOL).


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