2016/09/12

The Puppy of the Month Book Club Reviews Nethereal

Puppy of the Month Book Club

Nathan Housley, Jon Mollison, and The Frisky Pagan have chosen my first novel Nethereal as their inaugural entry in the Puppy of the Month Book Club, which they explain thusly:
The Puppy of the Month Book Club is a collection of science-fiction and fantasy fans who favor the open minded diversity of works approved by the Sad Puppy and Rabid puppy collectives.  Puppy related works are on the table as well, provided they meet the same standards of high-quality, swashbuckling fun, and healthy disregard for the political requirements imposed by the entryists and tastemakers (i.e. the CHORFs.)
During the first week of each month, Contributors will post an analysis, or review, or random thoughts on the Book of the Month.  The book will be selected by the 15th of the previous month, providing ample time to read the work and prepare a brief blog post.  The remainder of each month will be spent discussing that work both through new posts, providing links and discussion to other analyses of that work, and whatever else strikes the fancy of the Contributors - provided that each blog post relates back to the Book of the Month.
Contributor Nathan kicks off the festivities in fine style:
Space Pirates Go to Hell.
One might expect that Nethereal would be about a series of just but cruel punishments served to a crew of hardened criminals.  I certainly did after reading that description online.  However, the space captain, Jaren Peregrine, is a mysterious yet charismatic leader who wages a personal rebellion against a Guild that holds all space travel in its iron grip.  His crew follows him out of loyalty, not lucre.  And in the pursuit of his war, Jaren flies his ship straight through Hell itself.
And The Frisky Pagan chimes in with a thoughtful essay on the world building of Nethereal.
Temporally, the world of Nethereal also seems to be bounded, although there are hints of something much bigger waiting behind, including a brief reference to our own universe (the Judeo-Christian creation myths, to be precise) towards the end. Both its beginning and possible ending are part of the story, and the protagonists end up walking on the -if you can call it that way- ground where the universe was first created. They also met some of the gods or entities involved in that cosmic drama, so it's not like they are just following mythologies or prophesies coming from the mouth of a raving priest. For example, at the end of the book, one of the protagonists explains (as much as these things can be explained) how the universe was created and how it may be destroyed. And they are not listening to someone teaching them a theology lesson; it's a very real and immediate threat.
On to the Nethereal review itself. Nathan offers a chapter-by-chapter analysis of the novel that I've found to be enormously informative.
We meet Jaren for the first time.  With waist-length red hair and a long tan coat, he resembles the shaggy-haired space captains of the golden age of anime space opera.  Firefly fans might also notice that his coat is kind of a brownish color.  Jaren is half Gen, and the last of a race genocided by the Guild during in war that was long over before Navkin was born.  He possesses the intensity and bloody-mindedness of his Gen parentage.  His internal dialogue reflects this, focusing solely on the strategy, logistics, and rage required for revenge.
I found this idea by Jon particularly worthy of comment:
This series might benefit from a short story or two off in a corner of the universe with a more compact plot.  Those often feel like filler stories, but in a challenging series like the Soul Cycle, giving readers a chance to splash around in the shallow end and get used to the water might provide an easier entry for casual readers.
Not to give too much away, but I fully agree with Jon, and plans along the lines he mentioned are definitely in the works.

There's more over at the Puppy of the Month Book Club site, with plenty more on the way in the days to come. This post is a good place to start.

If you've already read Nethereal, feel free to join in. If you haven't, this month's Puppy Book of the Month is available at Amazon.com, as is its Dragon Award-winning sequel, Souldancer.


@BrianNiemeier

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