Gathering by Brian G. Turner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I picked the Chronicles of Empire Gathering by Brian G Turner up because it promised both Fantasy and Science Fiction with a taste of something--possibly of Historical Fiction. It doesn't disappoint in creating that combination and I have to admit that I truly enjoyed the story and the characters. But there were some elements that made this a difficult read for me and after finishing the first time through I had questions about things that I couldn't honestly say were not answered in the book because, as it turns out, on my second read through I discovered that I must have been thrown out of the story several times. Sometimes this can be the book and sometimes it can be the reader. I'm glad I read this through a second time, because once I made a pact with myself to pay better attention to what I was reading, most of the questions were answered.
It may be that some aren't because this is a series or it might be that I still missed a few things. I'll get into a few of those along the way here.
I think one problem in my first read was a feeling of slight disjointedness between the Science Fiction elements and the Historical Fiction element. It felt almost like the Science was overlaid on top of a Historical Fiction. Part of that might be the attention to detail paid toward the historical detail along with reasonable well written material concerning metal working. The metal work is integral to the story and certainly adds to it. Some other detail becomes somewhat questionable allowing in part some bit of wild speculation about the Science Fiction part.
By this I mean that from my understanding (and please understand I might have some of this confused even after two reads), this planet is not earth regardless of the fact that the wildlife and flora seem to parallel earth quite well. It would make for a nice parallel Earth story, except (again from my understanding) this world has some part to play in the making of our Earth. So-unless somewhere down the line we find that as it goes streaking through our solar system it somehow transports all of these element onto the earth (maybe likes James Blish's Cities in Flight) It just seems too much a coincidence to be so closely parallel.
So the science fiction part of the story involves two characters protagonist and antagonist. I had a difficult time deciding which was which.
Molric seeks to save the past of this planet; which seems destined to some catastrophe in the future where he comes from. Ezekial also comes from the future; but knowing that this planet's doom is imperative to Earth's existence he seeks to stop Molric.
But in the main story itself, which does in many ways remind me of the Three Musketeers with all the political and social intrigue, there are forces working against them both.
Rodrigan seems to represent an element of the religious order who are working with Molric (he is not aware exactly what Molric is other than a way to gain power over the empire and depose the emperor.) His motive could be good; but his methods sink any possibilities of putting him in a protagonist position.
The group that is gathering are ultimately working for the Emperor, who also would not qualify well as a protagonist. But primarily Jerine and her sister Tilirine seem intimately associated with some higher power and they are presently aligned with Ezekiel without knowledge of his past or even his goals.
There is a vast intrigue that seems to orbit these two primary groups of players and in some large way it gives the appearance of one group attempting to push back the tide of time; while the other tries to restore it; while all else conspires to let time march on as it always has.
Though the historical accuracy (of peoples; institutions; economy and politics and not actual history of ours) can for some readers (this one) often throw them out, it does add both a mood and a sense of world building that makes it quite authentic. Add to this the peopling of believable characters both flawed and sometimes downright frustrating; this is a well written book that deserves a good read and probably more attention than I gave it the first run through.
---Possible spoiler alert-though my obvious confusion might abrogate it.-----
I am however still confused about the future characters mentioning having seen this worlds technological development before it's destruction when in another place it appears that the planet will be ripped from wherever it is and be thrown into our solar system where it becomes unlivable while its presence is necessary for the seeding the Earth with life.
What is not so clear is the possibility that Ezekiel is from a further future than Molric and has larger insight into what needs to take place. I'm only guessing at this because of what each character seems to have witnessed. Which brings us back to neither of them necessarily being the antagonist because they have differing perspectives from which to operate.(So even on the second read I may have missed something vital.)
I read this through Kindle Unlimited and initially when I started my comments I discovered that it had been prematurely taken back; so in order to see my notes and read it a second time I had to check it out again and I've no idea how that works out for the author as far as payment.
I shall purchase a copy soon for my personal library; not to read a third time (at least not right away), but rather just to help insure the author can sustain himself while finishing the work; so I can read the rest.
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