by B.T. Keaton
Ingleside Avenue Press

"When everything you believe about civilization is a lie, the ultimate power is truth."

Barrabas Madzimure is a notorious thief, banished from a dystopian, post-apocalyptic Earth, and sent to mine eridanium ore on a distant prison planet. The slave laborer is sentenced to death after killing an errant prison warden. What seems like a mundane predicament is complicated by the fact that immortality is available to all in the twenty-second century by soul transference—a complicated process requiring eridanium—and controlled by an all-powerful Church under the watchful eye of a megalomaniac prophet. In extreme duress, Madzimure confesses that he is inhabited by Thaniel Kilraven, a legendary warrior and dissenter sought by the Church. But will the revelation assure his survival and escape from the cynical brutality of this system or condemn him to more torture? When Madzimure-Kilraven learns that the family he thought dead are all alive, it seems there is much about his journey that he must strive to understand.

This gritty and intellectually stimulating story hits the ground running, and the fast pacing continues through the final page of the epilogue. The strong prose, well-developed characterizations, and crisp dialogue provide a worthy foundation for the tense, eventful plot twists that explore concepts of identity, mortality, personal liberty, and repressive political and religious power. The rotating first-person point of view allows an intimate window into the story from multiple viewpoints but may cause momentary confusion for the reader. However, each character’s voice is unique, and the chapter titles help clarify which viewpoint and subplot are offered. Sometimes technology and the prescriptive nature of religious speculation overwhelm sci-fi thrillers, but this tale has a balanced blend of realism, philosophical inquiry, and speculative detail. Keaton just might attain literary immortality with this commanding debut novel.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home