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7,680 years ago, humanity was imprisoned for over 2,500 years by the shape-shifting Dwad-Mehstiv. The Noble Houses arose out of the ashes of the Wars of Conquest, The Church of the Blessed Prophets arose out of the Wars of Religious Independence from the Drek, and the Imperium arose to bind the Houses and The Church. When the Emperor of the Imperium is assassinated, chaos descends on the human community and The Church of the Blessed Prophets begins the brutal road back to its former commanding position while an enemy long forgotten over the eons returns to exact revenge. This is the world into which Ailanthus and Tethys find themselves, imprisoned in one of the most fearsome penal colonies in the Imperium. With the chance to finally escape at hand, the two men and their friends begin to understand that their roles are far larger than they ever thought possible.
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Reviewed by Stephanie D. for Readers Favorite "Dark Pilgrim Rising" by Ralph Buttner (R Peter Ubtrent) is a whole universe within a book. It is the first in the 'Dark Pilgrim' series, so there is of necessity a lot of scene-setting since this promises to be an epic science-fiction series. It is a complex rather than complicated novel with many subplots and layers, and calls for concentration. It is a story of survival. Ailanthus and Tethys, human friends currently on a savage penal colony, are bent on surviving in a place where few last more than five years. The Imperium, the presiding body, is also trying to survive, now that its Emperor has been assassinated. It faces uprisings from the Church of the Blessed Prophets and also from the Noble Houses, which had all previously been powerful rulers. To complicate matters further, an ancient enemy returns to the fray. Any book that opens with the sentence ‘The existence of earth is a myth’ is one that needs reading! It quickly becomes engrossing. This is a dystopian novel of corruption, brutality and despair, but ultimately of hope. The cast of alien species, including the Dwas-Mehstiv, Kroor, Druzin, Drek and H’chalks, is an intricately created and plausible one. Through their unique eyes we are given a satirical view of the human race with its faults and foolishness. But good qualities shine at times in Ailanthus and his fellow convicts. Occasionally the characters’ names are a little confusing in that there are many similar ones. There are also sadly more typos than you’d hope to see but this book is nonetheless an impressive achievement and one that is rewarding and fascinating to read.