Rhys of Quadrant Six, Book II of the Falkrow Narratives, takes up shortly after the action in Book I, Rhys of Earth, but accelerates into fascinating and unexpected directions as it amplifies the richly-drawn characters from the first book and introduces compelling new ones. Rhys is in turmoil, exhausted, grieving for dead comrades yet still immersed in warfare and duty, when he discovers a surprising new helper who leads him to hidden technology and an appalling revelation of an Earth secretly divided into computer-controlled quadrants. As he drives himself and his crew on in the face of staggering obstacles in order to right a centuries-old wrong, he forges new connections to remnants of the spacefaring society of his original home and begins to integrate this advanced culture with the scattered, warring humans of Earth.
The author’s storytelling skills are large, and you find yourself trusting her style and instincts. Even while sending the characters on enough new adventures to fill five different novels, she manages to engage the reader’s interest at every turn; the developing plot always defines the characters’ feelings and conflicts superbly. I found myself continually unable to anticipate where the plot might go next, but once an unexpected development occurred, I said, yes, of course it had to be this way …
I marvel at this Earth set so far in the future that all our current history, even a sense of geographic place, has long since been erased. This future Earth, divided into strange, indefinable zones, filled with cultures alien to each other, stripped of our current civilization’s knowledge yet yielding tantalizing bits of lost future technology, seems large, mysterious, unfathomable, yet this same planet always showcases ancient human themes and conflicts.
While we might expect the eventual triumph of a hero in an epic novel like this one, the author artfully keeps the reader guessing how such a triumph might be accomplished, and indeed whether it might fail or only partially succeed. A lovely and satisfying concluding chapter points to a third volume, but from the handling of this one, you understand that you will be entering completely new dimensions in the next book–which I’m eagerly awaiting.
review by Michael D. Smith