This delightful tale bespeaks another scenario where a spacefighter jock from a world annihilated by war and greed is shipwrecked on a lush world where its occupants are in tune with nature, superstitious and possess psychic as well as mystical abilities. While this is not a new theme as anyone who has seen “Avatar” or “Dances with Wolves” can attest, the characters are unique and refreshing, their interactions convincing and the descriptions vivid from the massive sequoia trees in which their dwellings are built to the vast array of herbs that the heroine, Nimri, uses in her role as a healer. Some themes never wear out in spite of repeated use when skillfully adapted to new characters facing age-old dilemmas.
Nimri’s peaceful life has been disrupted by the death of her harsh great-grandfather who was their tribe’s former leader, placing her in the role in which she’s expected to take up the Staff of Protection and assume the role of Keeper of the Peace between her tribe, the Chosen, and their nemesis, the Lost, who reside on the other side of the river.
Her great-grandfather has done a sorry job of preparing her, however, having bombarded her with constant criticism and demeaning comments which have left her devoid of confidence in her nascent abilities. Before she can even consider her new responsibilities, however, she must deliver his ashes to Sacred Mountain and scatter them at The Guardians’ feet, a journey from which no one has ever returned. Nonetheless, she swore an oath that she would do so and being a woman of her word, Nemri sets out on the hazardous path to her destination, joined along the way by her 600 pound feline companion, Kazza. Upon finding the sacred spot, she release’s her progenitor’s ashes. A moment later a disturbance shakes the ground and a tree falls, shoving her into the mysterious dark space between the looming stone Guardians.
Meanwhile, Colonel Larwin Atano, a Guerreterre Shadow Warrior, crashes unexpectedly on what he believes to be an uncharted planetoid. He blames the accident on software faults in the sexy-voiced android, GEA-4, which he is beta testing. As they exit their ship to seek shelter on what appears to be a lifeless rock, they find a tunnel which they follow. Eventually they encounter a beautiful, unconscious woman amidst the rubble in the cavern and the fun begins.
The misunderstandings resulting from Nimri and Larwin’s vast cultural differences are at times downright hilarious. Once he sets eyes upon a verdant world covered with vegetation, he envisions the vast wealth that will be his when he somehow gets back to Guerreterre where only the richest of the rich can afford house plants much less trees. Nimri, of course, thinks he’s the personification of one of the Guardians. Fortunately, GEA-4 facilitates the language barrier but while some understanding follows, the often humorous cultural barriers persist. Kazza adds yet another dimension, tying it all together with that wisdom seen in the eyes of his many feline cousins, large and small.
There is much more substance as well as plot intricacies in this enjoyable story than I can go into here to say nothing of avoiding spoiler territory as well. The imagery and details of this distant world are vivid and convincing, particularly Nimri’s gardens and tree-based abode. The culture with its myths, superstitions and traditions is well-developed, providing a strong basis for a trilogy of which this is the first volume. This charming crossover between science fiction and fantasy has elements that should satisfy fans of both genres. The main characters are complex and engaging while the supporting cast lends additional color and conflict. There are plenty of surprises along the way, especially in the finale, which brings a satisfying ending while leaving plenty of room for sequels that I look forward to reading. If you’re looking for an entertaining read with great characters and just the right amount of suspense highlighted by some great culture-clash humor, “Star Bridge” should fit the bill. You can pick up your copy at the Amazon link below.