A great review for The Deacon’s Tale was published today at Booksnobbery.com.
As the sub-title shows in the full cover art above, this is a Sword of the Stars novel. Sword of the Stars is a PC game that I have never played, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying this book.
Set in the 25th century, humanity (and the Roman Catholic church) have expanded to many different planets and systems and we have tentative alliances with several different species. Cai Rui is both an archdeacon for the Church and the Task Commander of the Black Section of the Sol Force Intelligence Corps. For years, an un-known species has been swooping in and abducting entire populations of planets, but they leave no evidence of who or what they are behind.
“They take our people,” he said quietly. “They snatch up their victims whenever and wherever our backs are turned, anywhere that they find our defenses weak. By the time we can react, they’ve vanished without a trace. The ones we lose are never seen again.”
He let the last image linger. It was a churned expanse of muddy ground, the surface trampled by hundreds walking through an open field. A series of stills moved closer and closer to the footprints, the tracks of heavy-treaded boots and atmospheric work units mingled with thermal shoes and household slippers. In the final close-up, a single track had been captured, driven into the near-freezing mud of a summer thaw and then fossilized by the returning ice. It was the slim silhouette of a child’s foot, toes splayed and bare in the punishing cold.
This is another story I’ve no interest in spoiling for you. If you’re at all into space-operas or political/military thrillers with amazingly tense battle scenes, I urge you to pick this one up. Author Arinn Dembo’s background is the horror genre and there are some definite gasp-inducing moments where that is quite obvious. I recommended this to my dad before I was even done reading it, and I’ll continue to recommend it to pretty much everyone I know. It’s on my short list for Top Five of 2012 already.
The coolest thing about this book was how full of depth it was. Each of the different species felt incredibly real, like we’ve already made first contact with them. I especially loved the appendices where the author gives us history on each species as well as fleshes out historical milestones mentioned in passing in the novel proper. I was really surprised when I got to the end of the story because there were so many pages left to read – that the remaining pages were history and lore and backstory was an amazing bonus. Loved that, I wish I saw things like that more often.
Based on the above rubric, The Deacon’s Tale earned 4.7 stars from me. I’ll definitely be re-reading it and look forward to more stories set in this universe.
Thanks to Kthonia Press and Arinn Dembo for the review copy of this book, I really do appreciate it.