01/12/2009. Contributed by Kelly Jensen
pub: Stone Aside Publishing. 332 page enlarged paperback. Price: $13.49 (US). ISBN: 978-0-97885-080-7.
check out website: www.epicuniverse.com
A lot of writers are passionate about their work. It's a career requirement really. That enthusiasm on the part of Lee Stephen translated from the outset when I received all three of his books in one envelope. Inside the front cover of each one was a different and separate dedication to me, personalising forever these books. So many books I receive are simply slipped into an envelope and mailed off without a second thought. I truly felt Lee had mailed something of himself to me. With this charming sentiment, I sit down to read.
'Dawn Of Destiny' is clearly labelled 'Epic - Book 1', a nice warning that you're heading into a series. Of eight total planned books, three are finished. Earth is involved in a war with three distinct aliens and we don't know why. There are the Bakma, Ceratopians and the Ithini. While the Bakma and the Ceratopians never attack together, the Ithini have been seen with both. The author takes several opportunities to speculate on the anthropology and supposed hierarchy of the alien species, building a world and tantalizing the reader with details. Everything we know about the aliens reflects what the characters themselves know. It's a puzzle that will eventually play out over the proposed eight books.
'Dawn Of Destiny' follows the beginning of Scott Remington's military career. While not unexceptional, Scott is not your typical 'hero'. He's not singled out by any special trait or personal history. His only marked difference is his faith, which he credits not only with the decision to join EDEN (Earth Defense Network), but clarity of purpose allowing him to engage the enemy with a clear conscience. Not being of a religious nature myself, I found Scott's faith, which does not overwhelm the book but merely adds a dimension to his character quite palatable and even believable. Otherwise, he is a normal guy, a regular recruit who will get his chance to shine through action, just as it happens in real life.
The writing is great for a first novel. The structure of the plot and the devices used to divulge information about the characters and aliens are effortless and never awkward. Though I would stop short of calling the writing brilliant or literary, it has the effect of never distracting you from the story. I consider that good writing. As far as characterization goes, there are a few stereotypes, but I'm happy with those, familiar characters are often the lifeblood of a good book and in supporting roles can help flesh out the more unfamiliar types. The plot was, as expected in any decent military Science Fiction book, action driven and well described. There was ample down time for character development. My only complaint would be the ending. While it works as a tidy break point between books one and two of a series, it precludes this from ever being read as a stand-alone novel. It's a small thing, a personal observation. I will say that towards the end of the book there are hints of another plot-line, a conspiracy among the higher echelons of EDEN that does whet the appetite for book two - which I happen to have right here - stay tuned for the next review!
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA