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Nethereal (Soul Cycle Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 617 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
This book (and entire series) takes notions of genre and twists them more than the pretzels in my kitchen. An amazing mix of sci-fi, horror, and fantasy that will captivate you. I highly recommend it.
I'm going to come right out and admit it: I bought this book because of its cover. First, that cover is all kinds of awesome. Second, it's a cover that screams out, "I am a science fiction novel and I'm not afraid to announce that to the world."
I'm not a fan of the recent trend in genre fiction towards bland, generic covers that try to hide the fact that the books are genre. I bought Game of Thrones back nearly twenty years ago when it was still printed with the original paperback cover of Jon Snow and his direwolf Ghost. I'm not afraid to admit that I bought that book for the cover, too.
In both cases, it was a good choice. Nethereal is a strong debut novel. The characters are interesting. The setting is interesting. The plot bogs down just a bit in the middle, but otherwise moves at a brisk pace. Most importantly, you'll want to know what happens next to these characters. The most frustrating thing for me in reading this book was that I was so busy that I had to read it in short segments. I kept getting angry that I had to put it down to do other things.
One other aspect of the book that I found very interesting was the way his world paralleled the nine circles of hell in Dante's Inferno. I have a strong suspicion that the rest of the series will continue the parallels with The Divine Comedy, and I'm quite curious to watch it unfold.
Five stars for this debut effort. I'll be watching Brian's career with interest.
And this is the author's first novel. I'm hardly an expert, but I was extremely impressed.
What's key here is the richness of the author's creation. This isn't just an imagined future. Earth is nowhere to be seen, past or present. Brian has created an entire cosmos with its own rules, exotic physics, and even more exotic metaphysics. Half-sentient FTL starships are guided by telepathic pilots who are more partner than master--and can be eaten by the mysterious Wheel if they break the complex rules of steersmanship. The gulf between life and death that we experience here is paper-thin in this ancient cosmos long abandoned by its own gods. Half of your crew might actually be dead men--and you have to look close to tell which is which.
The plot is difficult to discuss without giving too much away. There are constant twists and turns, which sometimes expand to a Byzantine complexity that may be the book's primary (though not critical) flaw. One of the few remaining members of an immortal race searches this strange cosmos for clues about his father's fate and the titanic starship his father designed, on a mysterious mission that eventually takes Jaren Peregrine and his peculiar crew to the center of Hell itself. Strap in and enjoy the ride. I've never seen anything quite like it in my 50-odd years of reading SFF.
Longer version: Nethereal is a superlative science-fiction / science-fantasy / horror novel (and touches all three genres and more besides). Sure, you could say it's a story about space pirates who accidentally end up in a kind of hell; but then you would also have to say that the Sistine Chapel ceiling "has a decent paint job on it". Like the Sistine Chapel ceiling, this book takes your breath away with its imagination and scope, and in a refreshing change from the norm, it treats the spiritual with as much depth as the material. The characters are interesting and complex, including the villains, and the plot line is neither predictable nor incoherent. It's a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat and then leave you wanting more. I loved it.