The Narrow Path to War
by DL Frizzell

"These storms are wonderful things... wherever they go, pain always follows. It would be a shame to waste such an opportunity in this wonderful place."

Earth colonized the planet of Arion 500 years ago, but the inhabitants lost all scientific technologies soon after colonization due to planetary magnetic storms called gusters. Despite five centuries to rebuild, the territories of Arion are still recovering from that loss. As if that wasn't bad enough, the magnetic storms having been getting more frequent, and the political tension between the various territories are at the brink of war with each other. Alex Vonn, a precocious college student, isn't one to care for politics, until his best friend is tortured and interrogated on an abandoned spaceship at the hands of Nakajima spies. Now he’s willing to become a deputy and risk it all to catch those who wronged his friend.

Frizzell does a wonderful job at painting a foreign environment while giving the reader hints of familiarity through habits that are held on as homage to the colonist's home world. In a way, one can say that the The Narrow Path to War is the love child between a classic western tale and science fiction. The Celestial City is akin to an alternate American Wild West, employing deputies that wear metal stars to distinguish them as marshals of the law. They often ride horses, wear guns holstered to their hips, while donning a long leather coat and hat. Nakajima, on the other hand, is the alternate equivalent of Japan, with garden keepers as adept assassins and spies.

Gun-slinging, knife wielding battles, chases across the desert, and treachery are not in short supply on Arion. Frizzell packs a punch with well-written action sequences that will leave readers hanging on the edge and anxious to turn the next page. This novel is recommended for those who delight in cross genre science fiction reads.

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