First Scout Terrllss-rr of the Serll Combine has returns to the desert planet Anar’on. He is there to reclaim his lover, Teena – and to kill his soul-brother, the Wanderer Dharaklin.
In a sense, Mr. Vucak’s latest entry in his excellent series of political science fiction novels, is something of an hiatus. While the Machiavellian machinations of the Serrll Combine’s various factions and bureaucracies, and the incursion of a new alien menace, simmer in the background, the focus in this latest installment is on the protagonist’s inner kingdom. It adds a nice touch of philosophy and mysticism without hindering the quality of the space opera.
While there are many notable characters inhabiting Mr. Vucak’s sector of the galaxy, his hero Terr leaps out of the pages with special vibrancy. Despite the awesome destructive power he has, literally at his fingertips, he is a totally human and empathetic creation with all the strengths and weaknesses that makes for reality.
Granted, this book would have been much improved had some of the other characters been developed with a bit more detail. There are times when it seems the author in the heat of creation neglects to keep in mind the possibility that those reading the book won’t have read its predecessors. As a result, some important, though not altogether vital, descriptions and backstory are given short shrift.
However, as a whole Through the Valley of Shadow is a fast-paced, emotionally satisfying and thought-provoking trek through a world where politics has become its own reason for existence and people are all too often cast into places they don’t want to be because of it. At a time when far too much electronically published SF justifies the snide comments of fen that they weren’t good enough for the traditional market, Stefan Vucak can comfortably smile with the satisfaction of being one of the exceptions.
Copyright 2002 The Blue Iris Journal. All Rights Reserved.