Starfire by Stuart Vaughn Stockton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wow! Sentient dinosaurs, ancient prophecies, mysterious messengers, a demonic cabal, bone crunching military action, all with boldly visualized technologies and rich backstory reminiscent of Niven and Pournelle at their best in Mote in God’s Eye. Wow!
In Starfire (The Mending) the young warrior Rathe becomes the focus of a planetary battle on both the physical and spiritual planes. Before you think this is a lightsaber remix, author Stuart Vaughn Stockton presents a unique alien world in which the dominant sentient beings are not human nor even mammalian, but saurian.
What at first seems as if a straightforward story of a young warrior maturing under fire takes a number of unexpected twists. Nothing is as it seems and assumptions upon which entire societies are based may be totally wrong. There were several points in the story where I literally did not know what would happen next or who the enemy actually was. The book proved to be quite a roller coaster ride.
Stockton's visualization of an immensely old saurian civilization proved to be intriguing and well conceived. His use of spiritual elements like prophecies and dreams are not contrived and are integral to the story. Stockton's use of alien languages for proper names and for common names of everyday items proved both intriguing and frustrating at at the same time.
The author has thoughtfully provided references and drawings to help readers understand the world in which Rathe lives. Be prepared to do some page flipping when encountering an unfamiliar term or species. I did find the need to check references diminished over time and the overall breakneck pace kept the story moving so quickly in places I abandoned page flipping and just pressed ahead.
I recommend this book to fans of Christian speculative fiction and to those who simply would like to read a good SF yarn. This is a book when once completed you will want to read again.
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