Four Star Review - A Great Read
“I never wanted the job, but my predecessor gave it to me, and I think we’ve made important progress. I’m not stepping down”
Reluctant heroes are one of my favorite tropes. It always creates room for character development, and for how short of a story this is, the author definitely delivered.
Sons of Taldra is a sci-fi adventure story that takes place on the planet of Valchondria. Taldra, the Leader of the planet, must battle an invading alien species. She is also struggling with her own citizens who do not think that she is fit to rule. With the help of her two sons, Taldra must defeat the human eating invaders and prove to her people that she is capable of protecting them. This book has something for everyone; aliens, mystery, action, and even a little bit of romance.
Simolke is a fantastic story teller. You can tell that he really cares about his craft. His writing style is concise and descriptive. He doesn’t rely on complicated language to over explain the story and make it seem more complex than it needs to be.
At the beginning of the story, the author seamlessly throws us into this alternate world by giving the characters a unique vocabulary, creating new customs for this world, introducing the technology and creating tension between the different planets. I particularly like that this world has openly gay characters that did not have to hide their identities. It is not very common to come across a book that lets the characters express their sexuality without being constantly questioned about it.
At only 104 pages, I wish this story was longer! It could benefit from another 150 pages explaining the back story of the Valchondrian ancestors who infiltrated the Naadloosh air space, what the Naadloosh actually are, the genetic makeup of the Maintainers, and developing the backstory of the already lovable characters. I found myself wanting more at the end of the story. I especially wanted to explore the motivations of the Naadloosh. However, Simolke did an excellent job writing this large scale world into such a condensed book. It never felt like there was information missing from the story.
Overall, this book was a quick fun read for anyone who enjoys sci-fi and adventure books. The plot was compelling and the characters were engaging.
Duane Simolke (pronounced “Dwain Smoky”), earned a B.A. in English from Belmont University, a M.A. in English from Hardin-Simmons University (M.A., ‘91, Abilene, TX), and a Ph.D. in English from Texas Tech University.
His work has been published in Writing published in nightFire, Mesquite, Caprock Sun, Midwest Poetry Review, International Journal on World Peace, and many other publications. His other novels include Acorn Stories and The Return of Innocence.
In an alternate reality, the human home world of Valchondria comes together under a constitution based on the Iroquois Federation. Centuries later, the Iroquois scientist Taldra becomes Valchondria’s Leader.
Now Taldra and her twin gay sons must form new alliances as humanity faces a race of alien shapeshifters intent on using people as a food source. One of Taldra’s rivals might pose an even greater threat.