Stuart Vaughn Stockton
Marcher Lord, Apr 2009, $14.99
Being a low born Yangkuch in the Karn Empire, Rathe, has no future except to become a Saurian warrior; still Rathe dreams of becoming much more. His hope lies in being the best warrior. He works hard at training to be ready when his chance at success occurs.
However, his first assignment is routine so Rathe knows he cannot shine as his dreams of glory will wait. Still he does his best and works his way up the ranks based on a lie about saving a hatching from a Jerkrenak. On his next mission he finds an ancient artificial intelligence who says his name is Karey. She takes control of the female body of a scientist and firmly believes Rathe is her protector. However, Rathe and his unit are in mortal combat with the Herians and the fearsome Jerkranaks.
Pulled in two directions the hero is terrific as Rathe stars in a coming of age allegorical science fiction saga. The story line is fast-paced yet filled with references to the Karn Empire including its simplistic caste system that keeps low born like Rathe drowning in the ooze below the food chain though his “heroism” lifts onto the ladder. Devoid of humans in the entire novel, Stuart Vaughn Stockton provides a clever well written inspirational head biting thriller as salvation is within anyone’s grasp if they reach out of the darkness.