EVERGENCE: THE PRODIGAL SUN
Sean Williams and Shane Dix
Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy / 394 pages / (April 1, 2014)
It has been five years since Williams and Dix collaborated on the military SF novel The Unknown Soldier, but they are back! Prepare to embark on a new series in a universe far removed in time and space from us lowly Humans here on Earth. The trilogy of Evergence begins with The Prodigal Sun and a voyage into danger.
Commander Morgan Roche is a woman on a mission: deliver a new breed of AI to the Commonwealth of Empires’ (COE) headquarters. It sounds like a routine, even boring, mission until the frigate Midnight is attacked by enemy ships of the Dato Bloc. Roche’s only hope is to escape to the surface of the inhospitable Sciacca’s World, a penal colony. Even if she and her passengers survive the attempt, they will still not be safe from their attackers.
“Box,” the AI that Roche is attached to, is more important than she thought. In fact, it’s important enough to kill for. Or go to war.
Aiding her in her escape is the mysterious Adoni Cane, a man without a past. His loyalty is with Roche now, but his true motives are as unknown as his origins. In a time when a being’s caste is all-important, it is impossible to completely trust a man who appears to belong to none. And, on a prison planet, who can you rely on?
The Prodigal Sun is a story that twists and turns back on itself and keeps the reader always off-balance. There is danger, adventure, and a labyrinth of loyalties. But despite the constant threat of capture and death, The Prodigal Suntakes on an altogether lighter tone than Williams’ superb Metal Fatigue. The input of Box and the variety of unusual characters surrounding Roche give The Prodigal Sun a strong undercurrent of humour and more of a space opera “feel.” If some of the emotional impact of the grim Metal Fatigue is lacking, it is only to make room for a more droll atmosphere.
Williams and Dix have done an excellent job of setting the stage for the remaining two volumes in the series. It is a situation wide-open to further adventures and deeper exploration of the characters along for the ride. A number of questions remain at the close of The Prodigal Sun, but the answers seem well within reach of Roche and her band.
A couple of pointers: there is an appendix (including a timeline) at the back of the book. The information is very helpful to understanding the universe Williams and Dix have created. Also, there is a glossary of terms that can be invaluable when a detail has slipped by the reader. You may wish to read through this material before beginning the book, but be careful! The appendix begins immediately after the narrative; don’t let your eyes stray and spoil the ending for you.
You are off on an adventure and you don’t want to ruin the surprises ahead.