Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and Hugo-nominated editor of adult and children's speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince, received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club's Year's Best Science Fiction Releases. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online and include entries in The X-Files and Decipher's WARS, amongst others. As book editor for Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta's WordFire Press he has edited books by such luminaries as Alan Dean Foster, Tracy Hickman, Frank Herbert, Mike Resnick, Jean Rabe and more. He was also the first editor on Andy Weir's bestseller The Martian. His anthologies as editor include Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek, Mission: Tomorrow, Galactic Games and Little Green Men--Attack! (forthcoming) all for Baen, Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6, Beyond The Sun and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age. His debut YA anthology Decision Points (Wordfire 2016) was described by Tamora Pierce as: “the most solid-in-quality anthology I've ever read!" He is also coediting anthologies with Larry Correia and Jonathan Maberry set in their New York Times Bestselling Monster Hunter and Joe Ledger universes.
The Returningby Bryan Thomas Schmidt
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Hugo-nominated editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt won Honorable Mention on Barnes and Noble.com's Year's Best Science Fiction Releases alongside books by Ben Bova, Robert J. Sawyer, Jack Campbell, Ernest Cline and more with his debut novel, The Worker Prince, which more effectively captures the feel of the original Star Wars than any other recent series. In 2015, WordFire Press released a revised and expanded Author's Definitive Edition of that book. Now, Schmidt returns to the Saga of Davi Rhii with an revised, expanded book 2, The Returning: Author's Definitive Edition.
Davi Rhii helped his enslaved people fight for their freedom and earn equality, but now that they are equal, they've found freedom and acceptance don't necessarily go hand-in-hand. When assassins begin killing and terrorizing Vertullians, even Davi's family and friends, they face a renewal of old enmity all over again. Davi, Farien and Yao reunite to investigate the murders, finding their lives and friendships threatened by what they discover.
Meanwhile, , while Xalivar back seeking revenge on Davi and all those who defied him, the new High Lord Councilor, Tarkanius, Lord Aron, and Davi find themselves fighting all over again to preserve the unity of the Borali Alliance, while even many of their allies and friends work against them to tear it apart. Suddenly, the future of the entire system as at stake, unless they can find those responsible and bring them to justice.
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Bryan Thomas Schmidt's second foray (of a proposed trilogy) into The Saga of Davi Rhii retains all of the "golden age of science fiction" feel of the first installment (THE WORKER PRINCE). The narrative buzzes along, the characters are relatable, and the story builds to an appropriate climax without feeling (as many middle books do) as though the author is treading water or stretching the word-count to justify a third book. What can I say about the story in book two that will not spoil things for those who haven't read book one yet? Probably not much. Davi Rhii, the child of Vertullian slave-workers raised to be a Borali prince, has begun acclimating to his role as a cultural hero and figurehead of the new society that is emerging as the Vertullians are made full citizens of the Borali Alliance. His closest friends, Farien and Yao, and the love of his life, Tela, are by his side as he navigates the merging of the militaries who so recently fought against each other. But Davi's deposed Uncle Xalivar and his cronies are still on the loose, fomenting unrest across the Alliance from a clever hiding place. Davi continues to be a likable but conflicted main character. He struggles to do the right thing in the face of both societal and familial/romantic pressure to turn away; he struggles to understand the reactions of the people he was raised among and the people he was born into; he struggles to comprehend Tela's growing anger towards the Borali. Basically, Davi is the balance point for everyone else, and he's not always perfect -- which is what makes him so enjoyably real. In the GA of SF Schmidt's writing harks back to, Davi would be The Infallible Hero. He's not. But neither is he naive (like Luke Skywalker) or jaded (like Han Solo), although at times he exhibits both of those qualities to some degree. Schmidt has given himself a lot of narrative balls to juggle in this installment, and he deftly manages to keep them all moving. In addition to Davi's main thread, we also get to see the growing action from the point of view of a plethora of secondary (and some tertiary) characters. Most significantly, we see the struggles of the two women most important to Davi: his beloved Tela's struggles to accept loss and regain her sense of self and his adoptive mother Miri's dawning realization that the culture she was raised in may not be the culture she is most comfortable in. There's also the on-going struggle of Davi's oldest friend Farien to put aside childhood prejudices, and a variety of political and military machinations to keep track of. To the author's credit, we get to see into the minds of the people who work under arch-villian Xalivar so that they are not the blank cardboard cannon fodder so many "henchmen" (it's not the right term for Schmidt's characters, but you get the idea) usually are. If there is one aspect of this book that shows improvement, it's the warfare scenes. Schmidt holds nothing back this time, almost as though he realizes that the reader needs to have a deeper emotional investment in the climactic battle than we felt with the big battle in the previous installment. Or perhaps it's because, for Davi personally and culturally, there is more at stake. Whatever Schmidt's impetus, the battle scenes feel at once cleaner and more chaotic, and I was far more worried for the safety of the characters I've come to love than I remember being in book one.
Reviewer: Forrest W. Schultz A good question for a book discussion or an essay in a literature course would be to state the various kinds of "returning" in the book under review. The most important of these, at least on the surface, would be the attempt of Xalivar, the arch-villain of The Saga of Davi Rhii, to return to power. (It is not easy to note the other kinds without giving away the story.) Bryan Thomas Schmidt went to a lot of effort to create Xalivar in Book 1; he is wise to maintain him as a character here in Book 2. He does not want to waste a carefully crafted villain! Especially not in a story which has received such plaudits for being based on real good and real evil. Having said that, Schmidt also, especially here in Book 2, depicts the complexity of the characters (especially Tela and Miri) who wrestle with tough questions trying to find what the right thing to do is in regard to their historical context and to their relationship with Davi. There is real good and real evil, yes! But his good characters are also complex, not simplistic. And there is realism in the debate by the Vertullians concerning staying within the Borali Alliance versus withdrawal. In fact it is reminiscent of the debates 40 years ago among American blacks in regard to integration versus separation. The answers are not easy to know. And Davi is not sure what to do about his deteriorating relationship with Tela, not only over the political issues but also over the question of the role of women in regard to careers and marriage, the same issue which has been discussed and debated a great deal in today's America. There is also realism regarding the principle that most people do not learn from history. This is all very serious stuff both at the socio-political level and the personal level. But there is also humor interlaced with it, some of it subtle, such as the apparently serious discussion of "Trilithium", and, at another point of "Honorable Men". This story is very good, very well told, and has us wondering how it will turn out. It makes us avidly await Book 3. Information is available at these websites: www.bryanthomasschmidt.net and www.diminishedmediagroup.com.