Reviewed by Dee
TITLE: Ardulum: Second Don
AUTHOR: J.S. Fields
PUBLISHER: NineStar Press
LENGTH: 351 pages
RELEASE DATE: October 9, 2017
The Charted Systems are in pieces. Mercy’s Pledge is destroyed, and her captain dead. With no homes to return to, the remaining crew sets off on a journey to find the mythical planet of Ardulum—a planet where Emn might find her people, and Neek the answers she’s long sought. Finding the planet, however, brings a host of uncomfortable truths about Ardulum’s vision for the galaxy and Neek’s role in a religion that refuses to release her. Neek must balance her planet’s past and the unchecked power of the Ardulans with a budding relationship and a surprising revelation about her own genealogy.
Ardulum: Second Don blends space opera elements and hard science into a story about two women persistently bound to their past and a sentient planet determined to shape their future.
I will preface this review by saying I have not read many science fiction stories. However, having recently read and enjoyed a few I was happy to have the opportunity to read and review this story.
With that said, when I noticed at was the second of a series, I immediately asked if it could be read as a standalone and was assured it could. Now that I’ve read the story, I can’t say I totally agree. While some people might have a different experience, I found myself completely lost for the first five or six chapters.
In the first chapter, which begins with Arik’s point-of-view, there is mention of Zie and zir. For example; Zie was from the farthest northern province… and further on, Zie dipped two fingers into the bowl.
As I read on, two characters fled a bad situation and Zie and zir kept randomly appearing on page. I got to thinking they were Alien guides or something. When I finally figured out the words were female pronouns. Zie/she, zir/her, some of my confusion dissipated. But, my need to translate these words in my mind never left, which meant rereading many, many lines. And this is a lengthy story already.
The story is told in third person and from a number of point-of-views. As one would expect, there are many different species and names for readers to get their heads around, and keep track of – Adzeek, Asth, Emn, Nicholas, Ekimet, Miketh, Corrinth, Savath, Kisak, Ukie….
The plot really takes off around the 70% mark and was the saving grace for me. There’s an ending but that ending is also a new beginning if that makes sense.
If you’re a sci-fi fanatic, Ardulum could be just the ticket. Grab a copy and give it a whirl.