Martha Fawcett is a literary gourmet chef who specializes in bibliophilic ambrosia. Her style is so rich with description and metaphor that it can be almost euphoric to read. This story is an unusual tale that treads across science fiction, fantasy and new age genres. Her characters are convincing and easy to relate to as well as the alien Gathosian culture and various planets she created. The juxtaposition of the two main male characters, Elan and Stellium, where one was a human born on Earth who relocated offworld with his parents as a child, while the other was a Gathosian raised on Earth, created an interesting balance and means for contrasting the two cultures and finding where and how they intersected. Much you could relate to as an earthling, yet there was enough that was alien about it to transport you to another time and place.
The first part of the book, which was my favorite, takes place at a school that trains warriors in a variety of disciplines and techniques which include not only spiritual development, survival, and martial arts but jumping time dimensions. Elan’s mentor, Kyron, is another important player. I felt his name was well-chosen as a subtle reference to Chiron, the mythological centaur and “wounded healer” who astrologically symbolizes the hurts and disappointments we experience that often never heal; indeed, if there were one theme I would attribute to this story it would be that of healing. All the protagonists were convincing but my favorite character in this story was actually Cerebow, a “dulcerary panther” with telepathic abilities.
I was so entirely immersed in this Shardasko Warrior school environment that it felt as if I was there as well. This made it all the more entertaining when Elan went to visit his human sister who continued to live in an earthlike culture. At that point the school seemed so familiar and normal I could totally relate to how foreign “normal” had become. His sister’s sarcastic remarks were hilarious and exactly what you’d expect to occur between siblings when one chooses an avant-guard lifestyle.
The relationship between the three protagonists when the Trinity witch, Iosobell, entered the scene was an interesting study of the different roles individuals play across multiple lifetimes. I must say when these two men and a woman were involved in what can best be described as some sort of tantric three-way conducted in a retro-gravity device that I was a bit startled. Nonetheless, it was done in a tasteful and metaphorical manner that emphasized the love and spiritual bonds between them making it sensual while avoiding the clumsy, graphic prose typical of erotica.
Much of the remainder of this story explored the karmic path of deeds and events as they ripple through time and fate in both directions. Soul groups travel together through time and space yet individuals play a multitude of different roles and incarnate in both genders. Trying to heal or, better yet, prevent catastrophes caused by mistakes born of ignorance, foolishness or immaturity becomes a thought-provoking consideration as the three protagonists strive to do just that amid the challenges presented by “free radicals” or what could best be described as tortured souls or devils.
My least favorite part of this book was one of the middle chapters where a lengthy narrative attempted to map out the chain of events the protagonists were trying to untangle. To me it oscillated between confusing and boring but I persisted in the hope that ultimately the story would return to its former grace and lucidity, which it did, and ultimately provided a satisfying ending.
It would have been handy for the book to contain a glossary of the various Gathosian words. I also would have enjoyed this book more if I had read the print version instead of electronic because a physical book makes it so much easier to flip back to other parts to refresh your memory, check the meaning of an alien word, etc. This story was quite complex and unless you have a memory like a steel trap there will be parts that can be confusing. It’s a story that would undoubtedly be enjoyed more on the second read.
This is not a book for someone who wants to enjoy a simple, straight-line plot that’s easy to follow. It challenges the reader and truly transports you to another alien world and culture, a task that was executed beautifully by this skilled, imaginative and very talented author. When a book can make me laugh, cry, and even gasp a few times while I luxuriate in a writing style best described as Nirvana, I will definitely give it five stars, only because I cannot give it more.