Thursday, May 9, 2024

Steven Harper - Offspring

The lush and beautiful forest planet of Bellerophon is home to a cacophony of noises, but its resident psychics are known as the Silent. Previously they could travel to the Dream, a telepathic plane of existence where they could twist the laws of reality. But that time is over...
One madman's lust for power tore the Dream asunder. Now only a handful of the Silent can enter it. Kendi Weaver is one of them.
As an election for the governorship of Bellerophon begins, Kendi is caught in the crossfire. Attempts on his life—and a rash of Silent kidnappings—point to a political enemy...or a personal one. Either way, the future of the Dream is at stake. And Kendi fears it may become a nightmare.

Comment: This is the fourth and final installment in the Silent Empire series by Steven Harper. I have enjoyed the series quite a lot, even though none of the books were totally perfect. Nevertheless, what joy it has been and I'm quite glad I've managed to read this sci fi/fantasy series.

In this final story, the events take place a while after what happened in the third book. Kendi and Ben are looking for to become fathers but the discovery that the cryo embryos are the direct descendants of pioneer Irfan Qasad and her betraying husband still weight heavily on Ben's mind, even more so when he is in the same situation himself. Things might not be so bad if not fore the political situation on the planet, and the fact Ben's grandmother Reza Salman is running for governor put the spotlight on everyone in her family, including Ben and Kendi. At first Ben believes he can stay under the radar, but someone starts blackmailing them... is this a random event or is it connected to the political situation? Once again, Kendi and Ben must use the Dream to try to find out more before something irreversible happens...

Clearly, since this is the fourth book in a complex fantasy series, this isn't the best place to start and I'd advise a new reader to read this in order. Having read the other books, I've come to conclude that it looks as if the author truly planned for the series to not be a simple linear plot, I think he is writing specific sub plots which happen to be part of the overall world; however, reading out of order might make this seem very confusing.

I feel invested in these characters because the author's writing style is appealing to me and reading was engaging. Perhaps a different author might have done certain things better and others the opposite, but I like this style in which we follow sympathetic characters like Kendi and Ben into what should be a boring domestic episode and it turns out that there is more to think of while they do debate on their personal issues. I liked being immersed in their lives and of those around them.

The guys are obviously worried and eager to have their child and at some point it felt as if the story would only be about that and how the parentage would be such a shock for everyone, but the author thought about a few more ideas to keep the pace. I can't say that some of those options were the best - in fact it did feel as if some ideas were just fillers - but to be fair I can't think of what should have been done instead. I also think the author must have planned to tidy up loose ends, for there is one big missing link from the past books which was solved definitely here, although I think that situation wasn't tackled as well as it could. There are also things which weren't solved...

It's true a few situations were rushed and the importance of why they were included felt like a missed opportunity. Perhaps the author wanted to write more stories and a few situations would have a resolution then. I feel satisfied enough with what happened, and my overall appreciation of this book is a positive one, but yes, I admit I did think about what else might have been done...

Kendi and Ben are a steady couple and I actually like this aspect of the stories so well. There isn't any specific focus on romance nor on intimacy, but I still feel they are a happy couple, who happen to be able to still go to the Dream, but deep down they only want to have a happy family. I liked how this panned out for them, in terms of the decision to have children and how, and the way they found friends who would be the children's mothers. It might sound silly, but I felt happy reading about people who were friendly and good and who wanted to be in a situation where everyone would be respected.

In regards to the whole Dream thing (in book #2 a major event happened which affected the Dream dimension) I think the author could have been braver and more incisive in what could happen. I suppose perhaps he might have wanted to exploit this further in following books and had to compromise if this was to be the last? I have not investigated, but it does feel that this element could have been solved in a much better way, considering the importance it had throughout the series.

Well, things are what they are and if this is the end result, as I've said, I feel satisfied with the general options. Let it be said things end well for our protagonists and I've finished the book thinking that, despite what wasn't included, the way things ended was good enough to make me feel as if I could let go of this world with a happy sigh.
Grade: 8/10

No comments:

Post a Comment