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Escape from Oz (The Falken Chronicles Book 1) Kindle Edition
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For those who may be unaware, the continent of Australia was originally settled in large part by convicts from other parts of the British Empire, who were sent to the most remote place on the planet to serve out their sentences. Author Piers Platt takes that idea one step further in "Escape from Oz," his exciting tale of a futuristic universe where violent convicts go to an entirely new planet to serve their time. And, like the settlers in Australia who encountered all sorts of strange animal life when they arrived, Platt's convicts (and the readers) will be exposed to some bizarre and dangerous sights as well.
The protagonist of “Escape from Oz” is Sirio Falken, a big brawler of a man, literally. He’s a former professional fighter turned underground fighter turned killer, whose temper got the best of him, resulting in the death of his wife’s boyfriend. For this crime, he gets sent to New Australia (nicknamed New Oz), a prison planet where he and the other new arrivals are literally parachuted down in large crate-like craft and left for good. What Falken discovers is that there are no more guards on the planet, but that, since an accident destroyed the sole method of landing ships years before, the prisoners have had to fend for themselves on a large, flat island in the middle of a foreboding ocean.
Falken soon falls in with one group of convicts who live in the remnants of the old landing facility, a group that engages in constant gladiatorial combat to improve their social status in the group. Although Falken does fairly well in his fights, he wants no more part of it and throws his lot in with another group, a more agrarian, democratic group who call themselves the Colony. After Falken realizes that no one from Earth is ever coming back to take any of the prisoners back, he tries to figure out a way to escape.
“Escape from Oz” is primarily an adventure story, and Platt does a good job of describing the action, with several fights and an exciting finale, as Falken and some of the others try to put the final touches on their method of escape before time runs out on them. But the book also provides an example of a good, imaginative premise for a society of the future and how the consequences of the convicts’ decision making play out in their lives. The society in which one group of more militant convicts extorts a more peaceful group parallels the current status on the TV series, “The Walking Dead,” another example of a very harsh environment. In “Escape from Oz,” Falken and his fellow cons also have to try to figure out the meaning of the very strange ecosystem they encounter on the planet.
Actually, most readers will probably be able to figure out what’s happening on the planet well before Falken and his fellow convicts do, but that isn’t the end of the story, because the author has one more trick up his sleeve, a wildly imaginative twist ending that I never had a hint was coming. Many independent authors telegraph surprise endings with far too many clues, but Platt manages to come up with one that’s a stunner, completely surprising yet totally in keeping with the themes he’s trying to establish in the book.
“Escape from Oz” is a fairly short book and, frankly, one that I wish were a good fifty pages or so longer to allow the author to explore the fascinating society he’s created in more detail. Falken barely gets to spend any time with the first group of convicts before leaving them for good, and the discussion of the society at the Colony is also somewhat sketchy before Falken and another convict go off in a makeshift boat to explore some other islands. But what readers do get of Platt’s musings is intriguing enough in its own right. He is a rare science fiction writer who generates as much interest in the action aspects of his story as the more thought provoking ones. Fans of both old-fashioned space opera and the more cerebral, speculative variety will enjoy “Escape from Oz.”
A fair rating for this book, in my view, would be 4.5 stars. However, since Amazon doesn’t have that sophisticated a rating system, I’m rounding it up to 5 based largely on the effective and surprising ending. Simply put, author Platt fooled me, but in a way that enhances the book, rather than merely calling attention to a clever gimmick. The power and effectiveness of the ending is enough for me to round the rating up. Although the author plans to write a sequel based on some of the themes raised in “Escape from Oz,” this novel is completely self-contained, so readers shouldn’t worry about being left with a cliffhanger ending. Instead, what they will find is that, although Falken may want to escape from his prison, readers will want to stay and spend a lot of time with “Escape from Oz.”
Escape from Oz was a fun read. It follows the adventures of Falken as he tries to, as the title suggests, escape from New Oz. He is a fighter, or was, and his temper can get him into some bad situations. Most recently it made him do something he regrets, but cost him a long prison sentence. He is hoping to appeal his sentence, but first he has to figure out where he is and what is going on. He thinks he will be put in a jail with other inmates, but instead they ship him and everyone else off to another planet. To somewhere that is similar to earth, but not quite the same.
Falken doesn't really want any trouble, but in his quest to find a phone and way to contact his lawyer he finds it. There are two groups on the planet they are on - one not so good tough guys who starve newcomers and make them win fights to earn a place there. Then there are the settlers, the people who have planted crops and are trying to make this work. Everyone knows they will not get off of this rock, they are stuck there until they die, but which group will they stay with until that time? Which one would work for them?
I know Falken had a hard past, but he is really trying to change. He is trying to control his temper and keep his new friends safe. He starts learning about the biology of the planet, the plants and animals that live there and some of the odd things those who have been there longer have observed. He was fun. I loved watching him turn into this really great guy, this person who puts others before himself. When he went off on adventures to try and see what else this planet has in store or just helped the doctor with his patients I enjoyed it all. I especially loved how it all worked out. I won't spoil anything, but this was a great read. If you are a fan of the author alrerady you won't want to miss this newest work. If not it is a great place to start. I can't wait to read more of Falken's adventures!
*Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for voluntary honest review consideration
This review originally posted to Jen in Booklabd
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This book read fast. Its such a good read, the story is interesting and non-stop action.Read more
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