Wrapping up his Mass Effect trilogy, Drew Karpyshyn delivers an emotional, action packed ending in Retribution. Ex-Cerberus agent Paul Grayson is laying low on the lawless world of Omega. Working odd jobs for the Pirate Queen Aria, he’s managed to stay clean and in control. But the past is about to catch up with him. The Illusive Man has a long memory, and no one ever gets away in the end.

For fans of the franchise, there’s some cool stuff in this novel, though it doesn’t tie-in too much to Mass Effect 3. Considering the game was met with mixed reviews, that could be a good thing. Through the story, the characters spend most of their time on Omega, the Citadel and a few space stations. Aria and her organization get some attention, as do the turians. However the stars of this book are Cerberus. This all plays well into the theme of the third game as we see Cerberus continuing to play a major role and playing around with the integration of Reaper technology.

One of the key characters in the story is the Illusive Man. The story begins and ends with him. In the middle, we see his struggle to gain the upper hand against the Reaper threat, his struggle for survival, and his desperate moves to do whatever it takes to protect humanity. While he is not as empathetic a character as he was in the last novel, he’s not quite as far gone as he is during the events of the final game. Thus this story helps bridge the gap of his progression from misguided patriarch to delusional psychopath. Along the way, we also get to see the Illusive Man’s trusted assassin Kai Leng as he gets some page time in his hunt for Grayson.

Tying into the previous books, Retribution forms a nice trilogy with the key characters. Grayson is back in this one and takes center stage. Along for the ride are Kahlee Sanders and David Anderson. The trio wind up in some serious messes as they deal with Cerberus and the Reapers. Retribution is set 20 years after the first book, Revelation, and 3 years after the second book, Ascension. I’m not exactly sure when the book takes place in relation to the events in Mass Effect 3, however, it would have to be during the 6 month in-universe gap between Mass Effect 2 and 3.

The story itself takes some interesting twists and turns. There’s an early climax in the book that would have been a great ending for the series, yet it is only the opening act for the story. Afterwards, it’s a mad dash as Cerberus tries to regain control and the opposing forces retaliate. Grayson’s struggle for survival is no easy matter, and becomes a brutal character journey. Yet the story manages to stay upbeat overall, even with the relentless surprises it throws at the readers.

On one hand, it’s sad knowing there are no more Karpyshyn Mass Effect novels to dive into after this one, but it was definitely a fun trip. I highly recommend them to Mass Effect fans as they’re some great books that add a lot to the universe. For wrapping up Grayson’s story arc, diving deeper into the Illusive Man, and spinning together a dramatic story, I give Retribution a five out of five metal bikinis.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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