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Posted October 31, 2009
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.
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Posted November 9, 2010
Thank God for glossaries.
Without one, I would have been lost in Sauria, Stuart Vaughn Stockton's alien world. Reading sample chapters online had left me drowning in unfamiliar places, people, and terms. After obtaining a copy and paging through the glossary at the back of the book a few times, though, I was ready to tackle Stockton's debut novel, Starfire.
The book was long (over five hundred pages, glossary and introductory material included), but well worth the week and a half I spent devouring it. Stockton's story world is rich and strangely familiar, despite the utter lack of a humanoid. Dinosaurs fill the pages, but they form well-drawn characters with struggles and emotions as real as my own.
The plotting was well-done, although perhaps it could have been a little more concise. I was intimidated by the length, and while the pacing is good, it wasn't exactly rip-roaring the whole way through. I suppose this is the sacrifice made for a strange universe populated with strange beings. Stockton had just enough twists to keep it unpredictable, but not so many that it was hard to follow the story.
Stockton's writing was excellent, so excellent that I'm having trouble reflecting back on it. For the majority of the novel, it was as if the author had ceased to exist. The Christian elements weren't subtle, but they blended well with the story. The secrets of the jerkrenak and the Grakil blew me away. Also, the main character's choice at the end surprised me. Nine out of ten modern Christian novels would have ended differently, but Stockton chose to remain true to his character, and the story is better for it.
The climax amazed me. I thought I had it figured out, but Stockton had a few aces up his sleeve that he saved for the very end. I was left hungering for more, with plenty of unanswered questions to be answered (I hope) in The Mending, Book 2.
Posted October 1, 2010
Starfire is amazing in its originality, the world Stockton has created is one equal to J. R. R. Tolkein's Middle Earth. It's action meets the expectations of the readers of James Rollins and Michael Crichton.
Rathe, a saurian that happens upon an event that jolts him to top in military status, is given a mission that could make it or break it for him. He is the guardian of a weapon from a war fought and gone.
This is a story of adventure, treachery and betrayal that will leave the readers breathless and on the edge of your seat begging for the sequel.
Posted July 25, 2010
Starfire, the first installment in The Mending, is written by Stuart Vaughn Stockton and is published by Marcher Lord Press. In a far-off world, Rathe, a Yanguch Saurian, was born of a low status. Due to a lucky encounter, he has been given the chance to rise up and take his place among the finest fighters. However, on his first assignment, he becomes the subject of a grand plot to destroy either his nation or the opposing empire, the Herians. As time grows short, he must protect the weapon from the Herians as they tirelessly attempt to retrieve it.
Starfire is a unique sci-fi treat. It combines the ferocity and reality of Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park with the knowledge and complexity of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings. What I enjoyed throughout this book was that you can soon relate to everything that is going on, despite the scale barrier. The best sci-fi that I have read has always found a way to bring the reader between the pages into the reality of the tale. This is most certainly how I felt when I read Starfire. This is a great book to lose yourself in during any season, if you enjoy futuristic fiction.
Posted August 13, 2009
Is it an allegory? Is it an adventure? Is it weird with a message?
It's all the above. Stuart Stockton's debut novel deserves every bit of acclamation it has received to date. On a planet far, far away, entrenched in an unforgiving caste system, Rathe, a low-born Saurian warrior, desires to be a Saurian of distinction. Like most warriors, Rathe becomes enmeshed in military matters not of his making but that force him to make decisions that impact his world, not just himself.
After years of training, Rathe looks forward to his first military assignment. And on what should be a routine mission, he stumbles unto an ancient artificial intelligence called Karey Or who imprints herself onto one of the scientists along on the journey. Karey Or believes Rathe is her proector. Rathe and his team run a race against time as they battle the Herians and the dreaded jerkranaks.
Through well woven subplots we also feel Rathe's internal struggle against his past, a prophecy that spells his doom, and an introduction to a religion that seems ill-suited for the path he has chosen. As he struggles to do what's right within his own knowledge and understanding, he struggles with the teachings of The Way, its tenants far more puzzling than any challenge he had yet to face.
Though the book contains a host of new terminology, Stockton's world is so cleverly crafted it is hardly a stumbling block to the reader. For those who need it, the book does contain a glossary. However, Stockton's clever placement of the terms made them understandable in context. Stockton handles his complicated world with expertise. While not a human in the whole cast of characters, Stockton has given us a host of characters who will long be remembered. As well written as the impeccable plot design, Stockton has shown his gifts both as a literary genius and a master story teller.
While providing the reader with a clear Christian message, the tone is far from preachy. Stockton demonstrates the power of God's salvation through a well crafted story that holds the reader's attention from beginning to end. Can't wait for the sequel.
Posted May 27, 2009
Imagine you are born into a culture entrenched in a strict cast system and you are from the lowest possible circumstances. Your only hope to advance beyond your lowly birth is to join the military and hopefully prove your self worthy. After years of service as little more than a prison guard your day comes to show what you can do in graduating field exercises. The problem is the judges will never overlook your origins, so you must do far better than any other soldier to even hope to be passed.
Near the end of training, you find yourself in a cave where the missing child of an important official has been taken hostage. What happens in that cave ensures your place as a soldier but also leaves you with a dark secret that will follow you from that day forward. Not long after joining your first field unit, its commanding officer volunteers for a mission to provide security for, of all things, engineers. Little could your unit know what this simple and potentially boring mission will mean for you or the entire world.
Now imagine this all happens on a distant planet whose history is shrouded in the Dread, a gnawing fear that discourages its inhabitants from digging too deeply into their past. Only a few have faith in who they believe to be the one true creator while most, like you, believe in nothing but themselves and the Karn Empire. You are a simple solider who will face extraordinary situations, enemies, and decisions you never imagined (except in your dreams). Oh did I mention? You are a Yanguch of the planet Saurin. You are eleven feet tall, eighteen feet long and have skin that is blue-green with maroon speckles.
Stockton has spent much of his life building the mythos of the Starfire world and it shows in the richness of its characters and story of his debut novel. To be honest, I haven't read fantasy or this kind of Science fiction in many years but Stockton has wet my appetite for more.
Posted April 25, 2009
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Review by Jill Williamson
Rathe, a Yanguch dinosaur, happens upon a dying Jerkrenak in the Draskil Skereta Mines. He also discovers a maimed hatchling that the Jerkrenak had doubtlessly planned to kill. Rathe sees his chance to rise above his low rank. He takes a fang from the Jerkrenak's mouth, carries the hatchling to safety, and claims to have killed the beast.
His heroism gives him the opportunity to rise to a new level of rank in the imperial army, a rank no five-five level hatching has ever managed to meet. But Rathe remains haunted that he lied about saving the hatching, and about the Jerkrenak's dying words: "If yi follow through on the path that lies at yir feet, yi'll bring the fire of the stars down."
Rathe and his team fly out on a routine mission to transport an engineering team to a station where the communication system has gone down. They stumble into something much greater, however. Herian troops attack their camp and the engineers panic. When Rathe chases one of the engineers into the forest, he discovers an old science station. The engineer has stumbled into an old machine that somehow altered the creature to a being called Karey Or.
Karey Or believes that Rathe is her protector and that he must take her to a place where the Starfire can be engaged. Rathe's troop believes that Karey Or is the key to a great weapon. They set off to use that weapon to destroy their Herian enemy.
As they journey, Rathe is haunted by prophecies from his past and present that speak of a religion he does not believe in. He might be the one chosen to decide if the Starfire will be destroyed or used as a weapon against his enemies, but that doesn't mean he has to take into account old fables. Rathe will do what he feels is right and hope it's the right choice. Either way, it seems, an empire will be destroyed.
Starfire was a completely surprising story. I would have never thought I'd like a story about dinosaur people. But Rathe is a fun character to read about. He is practical and tough and easy to relate to. He prefers to make his own path in life and can't see how "some mixed-up, homicidal god could lay out a better track" for his life than he could himself.
Like Star Wars, Stuart Vaughn Stockton's dinosaur creatures are all new and unfamiliar, so it was fun to imagine such a world. Stockton also provides a marvelous chart in the front of the book that shows the shape and size of each species in relation to each other. It was extremely helpful. As I read, I kept flipping back to the front to compare the species as I got to know each character.
This is pretty much a guy book. It's about fighting and war and cool weapons and dinosaurs who bite each other's heads off-only if they really have to. Pretty awesome stuff, depending on your interests. There is no romance in this story, but Rathe is a softy at heart and carries the smaller engineer female around on his back so she won't have to walk. He's the kind of guy I'd want fighting for my world. All in all, this was an action-packed adventure. I highly recommend it for those who love science fiction, fantasy, and epic tales of war.
Posted July 30, 2011
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Posted July 12, 2011
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Posted June 10, 2013
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