Recent Reviews for Gary Caplan
Talcon Star City (Book) - 12/11/2014 7:38:19 PM|
Mirage of hope – A review of the novel ‘Talcon Star City’
“It is often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars” - Richard Evans
Prolific science fiction author Gary Caplan’s novel ‘Talcon Star City’ is the sequel to the 2009 release ‘The Phoenix Rising’. Painting the same vast expanse of space and its futuristic civilizations as revealed in the previous book, the new book too narrates the tale of such space faring people. A massive and powerful amalgamation of numerous civilizations, Alliance of Worlds is under constant threat of war and hostility from enemy civilizations who are hell bent on taking over this alliance. And their only hope is in the hands of a stalwart leader in Commodore Robert Sheppard who must not only rely upon his every intuition and skill but also seek help from a couple of new allies to fight the combined evil forces of Varlon and Accads. But he must do so before it’s too late for mankind.
While the space race led to nations competing with each other to send rockets and spaceships, what it also did was to introduce the power of science and create a spark of imagination amongst thousands of young minds, intriguing them about space and the role of man in them. This soon led to a parallel genre in fiction which later came to be known as space opera. And continuing from that initial spark which ignited our imagination, these novels inspired us to think outside of our little planet and become aware of the vastness of space and the potential that it contains. It has also given writers an opportunity to explore the theme of inequality that continue to exist among the different classes of people and the politics of colonizing space which hasn’t brought people closer as initially expected.
The Alliance of Worlds operate under an uneasy truce, with heavy prejudices on all sides and with multiple alien cultures in a race against time and each other to occupy it. And it is huge cast of characters within the vast expanse of space and time that we get to meet here, with a host of returning characters and a few new ones. And no decision of any character goes in vain as we get to see the ramification of their each decision in scenes that come later. It is perhaps the bane of this genre that makes its authors think that their books need to have its share of didactic moments and Talcon Star City is no different in that regard but unlike a lot of other books, Gary through his characters and his tone ensure that such moments are softened by the overall pace of the story. And after a slow start, the book develops and gradually builds up with bigger and better action. The engaging action, great dialogues and well developed characters with Robert Sheppard at the centre of it all rounds off the novel quite nicely.
Talcon Star City is a surprisingly quick read even with its sometimes wordy passages. This is mostly due to both the content and the voice narrating the story. Gary Caplan as a writer tends to use his prose and words alternately to paint a vast picture of the universe and also to get to the point faster than other novels in this genre. By placing political, social, and cultural theorems within a readable science fiction atmosphere, Gary has come up with a novel that is highly engaging to say the least. Sometimes deep with subtle symbolisms, it explores the basic human drive to explore the unknown and the dangers that lurk in them. And as it has always been for mankind, the greatest danger it faces is a mix of external threats and internal ideological struggles.
Advent of Darkness (Book) - 9/27/2014 5:23:05 AM
Sword of Order – A review of the novel ‘Advent of Darkness’
“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions” - Albert Einstein
Storytelling is a much envied skill, a story well told can make us laugh and weep, we become one with the characters and it can change even everyday moments into those of epic proportions.
This is what author Gary Caplan sets out to do with his novel, ‘Advent of Darkness’, the first book in the ‘The Chronicles of Illúmaril’ series of fantasy fiction. And for this he has created one of the most intricately original and fascinating fantasy world that you will ever see. One day John Gideon, a war veteran finds himself taken away from his home into a different world, a world full of magic and illusions, science fiction and the reality of war. This new world, Illúmaril is said to be that of his ancestors and he soon learns that in spite of the many mythical creatures that inhabits this new world, it mirrors his old home in many ways. And when evil forces threaten to disrupt peace, he must seek help from the wizards like Ragan and a host of others to discover not only his true lineage but also his destiny as the saviour of this new land.
What Gary does nicely from time to time is to layer the main story with subtle commentary on the state of affairs of our ‘real’ world in relation to the made up one. The author is at his lyrical best when he describes the various mythical creatures and the numerous battle scenes. Even though there are a lot of characters and places and hence a whole lot of names, as you get into the story you will realize that you needn’t memorize the name of each and every person to really enjoy the story as the languid and free flowing writing keeps you thoroughly entertained.
Highlights worth mentioning are the excellent prologue, which very neatly captures the reader’s attention and you will be hooked on for the rest of the book. The book also comes with a trove of supporting materials, the original maps and illustrations are a nice touch and further heighten the fantasy experience for the reader. There is also this portion in the end which is shown as Gideon’s journal entries, explaining in detail various information and basically serving as a reference tool for fans wanting to know more about this fantasy world, this is pure ingenuity at its best and will be a haven for the obsessed. John Gideon’s journey to discover his power and his coming to terms with his fate is nicely done and is written with such mastery and skill that it is bound to have your rapt attention throughout.
Like the author himself has mentioned in the beginning of the book, the author’s friend Basil Varian deserves special mention for coming up with a lot of ‘exotic’ character names along with the author. Advent of Darkness has deep, intelligent characters, who are accompanied by smart and innovative writing and use of language. This novel shows that it can stand on its own in this genre and is the perfect example of a modern epic fantasy. The grand battle scene at the very end is the perfect finale you could have hoped for until you pick up the second book in the series, ‘Return of the Ancient Ones’.
Advent of Darkness (Book) - 11/19/2013 8:06:12 AM
The US Review of Books
Advent of Darkness
by Gary Caplan
reviewed by Caroline Blaha-Black
"Long ago, when this world was young, after the Eternals creating the multiverse, the Erradans returned to the key world of Illumaril. Then the lords of Errada were united. They created many of the beasts and races that still exist on this world, and when it was their time, the Erradans awoke those first races of Illumaril from their sleep."
John Gideon, an archeology student from Earth, has an encounter with a robed stranger while returning home one evening and is unwillingly transported to Illumaril, a world totally different from Earth, where magic reigns supreme. In utter disbelief, he meets other creatures and races there, such as elves, dwarves, ancient wizards and mages, and many others. Helped by a Tauri wizard called Ragan, the robed stranger who met Gideon on Earth, Ragan teaches Gideon all he needs to know about this new world, and the role he will eventually play in defeating the ancient enemy, Dormas, along with leagues of dark elves, the Valharri, and their evil cohorts. Gideon and Ragan, with their dwarf friends and elves Gil, Glade, and Cordlyer, embark on a journey and have many adventures, like battling the evil Unlife in the Misty Marshes, on their way to the healing pools of Tetherin, where Gideon needs to heal his injuries. He eventually finds out that he has elven origins, and that an unnamed elf woman sent him to the orphanage on Earth when he was a baby.
The book is brilliantly written and runs in the vein of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. There are many references in the text to Tolkien's stories, and the adventures of Gideon, the wizard, the elves, and the dwarfs seem to take a similar approach to the hero's journey in The Hobbit. Here and there, the author intersperses the text with simple, black and white illustrations of the characters. This book is not to be read in one sitting, and similarly to Tolkien's books, it is a complex adventure with many characters and key players. There is a small dose of humor, that usually comes from Gideon himself, as he tries to get his footing in this new world and develop a budding romance with Laurelin Leaflock, an elven lady knight of the Order of the Horn. This is a great book for lovers of Tolkien, fantasy books, and great adventures.
The Return of the Ancient Ones (Book) - 3/11/2011 12:25:26 PM