BANARAK – Storming the Gates Book Review By Ron FortierBANARAK – Storming the Gates
By Van Allen Plexico
White Rocket Books and
243 pages

This is as yet another action packed adventure taking place in the fictional sci-fi mythology created by Van Allen Plexico call The Shattering. In this mythos, mankind exists in a universe made up of three distinct level of reality; the Above, where dwell gods with amazing powers, the Middle (or for want of a better term, our own universe) made up of we mere mortals and lastly the Below, home to assorted demons and other monstrous creatures. In his galaxy spanning saga, most of the drama results from unexpected interactions between these three levels which tend to lead to cataclysmic results.

In one of Plexico’s first books, “Lucien – Dark God’s Homecoming,” we were given a glimpse of this universe long after the old god’s from the Above had been vanquished via an act of betrayal amongst one of their owns. Then, in subsequent titles, Plexico opted to move around to other parts of his mythos and chose to weave stories that for the most part happened in his imagined future. Now, with “Banarak – Storming the Gates,” he takes back in time and spins the fantastic story of the actual birth of the Above gods.

The setup is quickly related. In the distant future mankind has launched itself into space hoping to find new worlds to colonize and guarantee the continuation of our species. Almost immediately star-gates are discovered at various points in space which allow us to leap front across the galaxies and soon seven worlds are settled and a burgeoning Empire of Man is about to be established. But just as quickly as the gates were found, they suddenly, without warning, cease functioning and thus seven separate human planets learn they must forge on independent of the others. Thus seven different cultures continue to evolve over the next few decades, each establishing its own unique identity. The only single unifying tradition to remain viable on all seven isolated empires is their common religion; the Church of the Seven Stars.

Then, just as mysteriously as they stopped functioning, the star-gates are reactivated by forces unknown. On the human world of Majondra, the military commander Constantine Baranak devises a plan to use the gates to invade and conquer the other six empires thus establishing one cohesive galaxy spanning regime. Aiding him in this audacious scheme are his siblings and his son, Gaius, who also serves as Constantine’s military aide. On the eve of this stellar invasion, Constantine is betrayed and assassinated by a high priest of the church at the same time Majondra comes under attack by a rival empire. It is left to Gaius to fathom how his father’s bold scheme was discovered and who amongst the royal family betrayed them.

One of Plexico’s hallmarks is the breakneck speed at which he propels his plot never allowing his reader a moment’s respite as his protagonist is plunged into one amazing adventure after another. He creates unique, alien allies and foes that confront Gaius at every turn until in the end; his family’s very survival depends on his keen insights into both their various natures. Dealing with cosmic forces beyond understanding, Constantine’s son must gamble with the fate of his people to either achieve a bold new future or fail and watch them totally destroyed. “BANARAK – Storming the Gates,” is a space opera thrill ride that never disappoints. If you have never a Van Allen Plexico space adventure, this is clearly the place to start.

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