The Gap into Conflict: The Real Story is the first book in the Gap Cycle by Stephen R. Donaldson. I bought this paperback when it first came out. I'd been looking forward to it because of how much I loved the Thomas Covenant books, but I hadn't been willing to pay hard cover prices. As the series continued I eventually began buying them when they first came to the bookstore in hard copy. I like this series. This is, however, my first re-read since my original time through them in the '90s.
We get introduced to the three main characters, who are basically a villain, a damsel-in-distress and a rogue/hero. Then we see their roles change. Many books show the good and bad in each of us; this one shows the bad and worse in each of us.
I have a love/hate relationship with Donaldson's work. I loved the first Thomas Covenant trilogy, really loved the series, re-reading them and encouraging others to read them. I hated Reave the Just and Other Tales -truly despised it- reading sections aloud to the kids and explaining in detail how horribly written it was. Like I'm any judge. But still. I also really hated the first book in the third series of Covenant books and refuse to read any more of them. The Gap series is one I love. At this point, I'm willing to re-read any of his books I already like but am unwilling to read anything else by him. Life's too short, and the risk is too great.
from the book:
Angus Thermopyle was an ore pirate and a murderer; even the most disreputable asteroid pilots of Delta Sector stayed out of his way. Those who didn't ended up in the lockup -or dead. But when Thermopyle arrived at Mallorys Bar & Sleep with a gorgeous woman by his side the regulars had to take notice. Her name was Morn Hyland, and she had been a police officer -until she met up with Thermopyle.Kirkus Reviews calls it "Repetitious and mediocre but readable".
But one person in Mallorys Bar wasn't intimidated. Nick Succorso had his own reputation as a bold pirate and he had a sleep frigate fitted for deep space. Everyone knew that Thermopyle and Succorso were on a collision course. What nobody expected was how quickly it would all be over -or how devastating the victory would be. It was a common enough example of rivalry and revenge -or so everyone thought. The real story was something entirely different....
In The Real Story Stephen R. Donaldson takes us to a remarkably detailed world of faster-than-light travel, politics, betrayal, and a shadowy presence just outside our view to tell the fiercest, most profound story he has ever written.