The Alembic Plot A Terran Empire novel by Ann Wilson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Alembic Plot (A Terran Empire Novel) By Ann Wilson
Of The three Terran Empire Novels of Ann Wilson that I can locate this one was by far the most difficult read. It is still done as well as all the rest but it contains an element that I don't particularly agree with. But one thing that some of the best authors do is put the reader in an uncomfortable situation specifically to take them out of the comfort zone.
The World that Mike Odeon lives in is a colony of worlds that have been kept far from the influence of Terra because they had left on bad terms. In this world there is a church organization that might be called similar to the Catholic Church, but is so far removed that it's easy to see how they could have left Earth on poor terms, although one point here is that the current Terran Empire seems much more tolerant of all religion than any past earth empires.
In Mike Odeon's worlds there is a fight going on between the reigning governing body and an organization known as the Brothers of Freedom. The BOF are ruthless and are terrorists and the only way to deal with them is to catch them and torture them to death and this is all made acceptable by offering them a chance to repent before they finally die. And it all smacks of the Spanish Inquisition, so its no stretch to understand that Mike belongs to the Inquisitors.
It is no surprise since Ann Wilson's Terran Empire has a thread of Honor and epic religious lore that is traveling through all her pieces, that this book is heavy on the religious and somewhat prophetic symbolism. What is interesting is that the church is undergoing some change and it soon begins to look like Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land and Valentine Michael Smith. Only this time it seems that it is all being started by a female figure. Joanie the heroin -think Joan of Arc- is a military person who is captured by the BOF and tortured and Raped and left to die, but she doesn't die and she's bent on revenge and becomes a high Inquisitor with almost a Carte Blanche authority. She not only becomes the best in torture but creates a whole new way for everyone to see their religion. But she's not the expected savior because she's just the Herald.
One thing that this book does have to it's detriment is too much description and time spent on the torture and there is an erotic element placed into it all so this is definitely an adult novel here. Some people might become offended over any number of the uncomfortable things in this book. Even with some of it left for the appendix at the end it is still a bit much and the stuff sent off to appendix could just have easily been left in or for that matter completely left out.
All things as usual will lead to some connection with the Terran Empire which in this case the players are reluctant to address until they have to. But it seems that the one the Herald is bringing in won't be revealed until contact is made with the Terran Empire.
This gets us to the most disappointing part of this story and that is that it mentions the next story in line 'Resurrection' and it appears that the book may once have existed, but as of the time of writing this it is lost and the only known possible internet electronic copy is unrecoverable. So though this book is complete in itself it is the stepping stone to the most exciting part, which might be lost.
This is a great read for Adult SFF fans and it truly shows the maturity of Ann Wilson's writing from her fan fiction roots to a well polished author.
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