Though Rhys Falkrow, now grown to full adulthood, still figures prominently in this final book of the Falkrow Narratives and links the three novels together, his seventeen-year-old son Ronan now takes center stage and matures through a series of fast-paced adventures.
The setting is a future Earth, unrecognizable to us, which long ago devolved into pre-industrial cultures alien to, and warring with, each other. Books 1 and 2 describe how a young Rhys was flung here years ago as a refugee from the disintegrating spaceship of the advanced Caelestis race, and how he learned to survive on this primitive Earth, make contact with its different cultures, and eventually assume a leadership role. But in seeking to shield his son Ronan from the high tech, collective mindset of Caelestis, Rhys has kept Ronan in ignorance of his heritage and has more or less abandoned him and Ronan’s mother Kallen. As Book 3 opens Ronan is little more than an angry juvenile delinquent. If Rhys was always set outside both the future primitive Earth as well as the world of Caelestis, which disowned him years ago, Ronan is even further outside both, never really belonging to Earth culture nor ever aware of his Caelestis heritage. Though Rhys’ goal was to let his son know what it was to be fully human, he’s set up conditions that have blocked Ronan from truly understanding himself.
Secrets have been kept from Ronan, and he resents it. Yet the truth cannot long be denied when Rhys, now commander of Caelestis military operations in Earth orbit, announces emergency evacuations in the face of invasion by the Alphas, a race of evolved humanoids who are eighty percent artificial, function as a computerized hive mind, and wield technology far beyond anything Caelestis has seen. The Alphas are here to exploit Earth resources, but the descriptions of their schemes are no science fiction cliché: the author posits methods of harvesting our planet which are an unforgettable nightmare.
As Ronan begins to numbly absorb the new developments and his connection to Caelestis, astounding native talents start welling within him, and he’s propelled into the heart of a danger he was never prepared for. He shares impulsive qualities and leadership skills with his father but, perhaps because of his isolation, before long he begins to transcend his father’s somewhat narrow views of the possibilities the crisis offers. His eventual contact with a rebellious Alpha, Cassius, completely redefines the nature of the human/Alpha conflict; the ways Ronan and Cassius establish a basis for communication and learn to respect each other set a fascinating cornerstone of this book.
As with Ms. Wilson’s previous two books in the series, Rhys of Earth and Rhys of Quadrant Six, the author’s storytelling skills make a long narrative unfold effortlessly, as imaginative scenes and fresh plot easily pull the reader through an intriguing story. Nothing is extraneous; there are no unnecessary detours. The ending is psychologically satisfying and concludes the series well, but we are free to picture Ronan expanding ever further in the future.
review by Michael D. Smith