- File Size: 717 KB
- Print Length: 329 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publication Date: January 14, 2013
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00B14OF2I
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,327,305 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
VOKHTAH (The Suns of Vokhtah Book 1) Kindle Edition
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The title is the name of the planet on which live two broad categories of creature: the powerful Vokh and the lesser iVokh, the latter of which consists of many subspecies. The story concerns the adventures of one of the more important iVokh, called simply “the Blue”, as it attempts to avert a potential disaster caused by the short-sightedness of the Guild - the most powerful of the iVokh, who have decided that a Vokh must be killed. The Blue undertakes a desperate journey across the planet’s land mass which taxes its skills and endurance to the limit. During this journey, we learn more about the feared Vokh, all of the subspecies of the iVokh, and just how hard life on Vokhtah is.
The world-building in this book left me speechless. While there are nods to us human readers (woodworking, tanning), the originality of the ideas are staggering. The nuances of this planet are revealed subtly, interwoven with the story itself, and there are no tropes of popular science fiction in this book: the reader is treated with intelligence and given credit for having a functioning imagination. Simply put: you either get it, or you don’t get it. This shows remarkable authority by the author, and makes for wonderfully enjoyable storytelling for those of us who have had enough of the severely limited science fiction which popular culture deems worthy these days.
To me, the style called to mind the work of Polish author Stanisław Lem in his more serious books, such as Fiasco and Return From The Stars: confident storytelling painted on a broad canvas with the dexterous strokes which leave the reader not only thoroughly entertained, but actually in awe of the author’s imagination.
In summary: Vokhtah is an outstanding, original work of pure science fiction which, I suspect, will struggle to reach the audience it deserves simply because it is absolutely what science fiction should be. Altogether a remarkable book.
The sentient species are of two types -- the Vohk, who rule the planet's day-to-day life, and the smaller iVokh, or healers. But the iVokh also act as a shadowy sort of check-and-balance on the Vokh: the iVokh's ruling council can decide that a particular Vokh is an abomination and arrange for its death. Yes, it; both the Vokh and the iVokh are hermaphrodites. Mating requires a fight for dominance -- which has obvious implications when a Vokh ruler decides to take over a territory adjoining its own.
As the book opens, the Blue -- a member of the iVokh ruling council -- is so troubled by a decision by the council to assassinate one of the Vokh that it abandons its seat on the council and goes undercover as a Messenger to try to put things right. This involves a dangerous journey with a group of Traders across mountains and desert -- one that taxes the Messenger to its physical limits -- as it races against time to beat the council's orders to their destination. It falls to one of the Traders -- a small but mysteriously powerful Vokh called the Apprentice -- to decide whether to help the Messenger survive.
It took me a little bit to get into Vokhtah. The reader is dropped into the world without the usual sci-fi trope of a human observer describing the new race, and so physical descriptions and explanations of the culture are left for the reader to discover during the course of the novel. But the characters' motivations are clearly explained and the book is well paced. There's even some humor.
If you don't mind a little bit of strangeness in your sci-fi -- and why are you reading sci-fi if you don't? -- then give Vokhtah a try.
Originally published at hearth-myth-rursday-reads.blogspot.com.