Mirazor (V. Peter Maslin)
Reviewed for Self Publishing Magazine LINK
Mirazor is set in, simply enough, the city of Mirazor in Odeona (unclear whether this is a continent, country or world) is a 'big' city, where all people seem to gravitate at some point. Added to this, is a mother-ship circling above, and insect-like bipedal aliens called Krey have arrived some years before; they are apparently searching for something in addition to abducting people (as the back cover blurb emphasises). There is also a plant called moss, apparently, which is being taken over by another species called jyn-moss (described as having fruit and creepers and leaves, rather unlike my mental images of moss), and which is spreading over the land, taking over habitable areas. A short word here about the cover image, apparently created by the author.... it conveys the setting of the book perfectly, though I might have wished for it to be a little more eye-catching, in terms of colour, or having the type in foil or something - it wouldn't stand out on a shelf in a bookstore; it doesn't even stand out on my own bookshelf which is considerably less well stocked. Reminds me of the old classic covers they used to have for Asimov and Clarke.
I was a bit confused at the start of the book, because the first pages had contained a fair amount of detailed descriptions - introduction of a character, followed by a paragraph or so of explanation, which I found a bit disconcerting, and had to go back and forth to pick up the trail of the story again. So, I am putting in a short summary; if you don't want to know details (no spoilers, I promise), please skip the next two paragraph of this review.
Given the setting I explained earlier, the book begins with a man named Halstaf, who is on a ship journeying to the city of Mirazor. Part of the way through the journey they are struck by an alien ship that subsequently crashes on a beach. Halstaf reaches Mirazor. Here we are also introduced to Poison Rose, a fortune teller and a few other characters. Halstaf, in his search for lodgings, saves a girl from an attacking Krey. The girl turns out to be the daughter of a wizard, the Great Kardusi. Halstaf is quickly welcomed into their fold, and told he can find lodgings with Poison Rose. He quickly becomes enmeshed in their plans to get rid of the Krey once and for all.
In a simultaneous storyline, we follow the human pilot (who has escaped the mother-ship) of the stolen gunship that had rammed into the ship upon which Halstaf was sailing to Mirazor. She takes refuge near the crash site, and survives on food for which she forages. Soon a man wanders in, hurt and, as Evine (the girl) realizes, he is one of those that has been tortured by the Krey.She nurses him back to health and they live near the beach in a cave, until 'Sparrow' has a vision, and they go off on a journey to Ur-Celeste.
Both threads of the story meet at a certain point, and if I say any more here, I will completely spoil it for you.
Needless to say, this is a fairly classic structure for a science-fiction novel dealing with an oppressed species.... good guys get together, formulate a plan, and somehow find all the resources they need to defeat said oppressors. The problem I had with the book, was that - as I mentioned earlier - the first fifty or so pages are so full of descriptions that I lost track of the story, and found myself wondering what the point was. It took a rather roundabout route, and though the story was pretty good, it could easily have either been cut down by at least a quarter, or else expanded and been made richer in detail (in the right places) and depth so that it covered a trilogy.
I was disappointed that it all went so smoothly, and that it ended in one book - uncomplicated plot, but has potential to be so much more! Halstaf, despite being a stranger, is immediately chucked full-on into the resistance movement, which is not so much a movement as a bunch of people who want to get rid of the Krey, whereas the majority of the inhabitants seem to be quite happy with their lot, making money off the trade with the Krey. There is no explanation for why they want to do so, that I could find, anyhow.
Perhaps a more tightly edited version might have been more gripping, but I would recommend reading Mirazor anyway.