||June 30, 2011
Though heirs to an ancient cosmic feud, he had to save her life, and she had to save his soul.
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Ancient Gannah was well on the way to taking over the whole galaxy, until the people of Karkar engineered a virus that stopped them in their tracks. Now, eight centuries later, the plague has struck again. When the League of Planets receives the distress signal, Karkar-born doctor Pik is ordered to find a cure, despite his hatred of the whole Gannahan race. By the time he arrives on Gannah, it’s almost too late; Dassa is the only survivor. And she has a mission of her own.
Dassa and Pik survive a pirate attack, unsafe starcraft, food poisoning, vicious beasts, and a plane crash. But the hardest part is enduring one another’s company. The Creator who wrote the story of redemption in the stars has commanded her to share it with her reluctant savior. That’s not all He expects of her, but the rest is unthinkable.
Beginning of Chapter 1:
Dassa trudged through the Ayin Forest across a crusted snow, her weary steps fueled by the nearness of her goal. Soon, she told herself. Soon this will all be over.
On much of the planet Gannah, winter was drab as an old faded photo, but the foliage in Ayin boasted the colors of a prism and the trees kept their leaves until spring, when the new growth pushed them aside. The frosty forest pulsed with color as Dassa quickened her pace despite her exhaustion and the steepness of the slope.
Labored breath billowing like smoke from a puffing firedrake, she crested the ridge and cast her gaze into the valley below.
A warm rush of delight coursed through her weary body. There it was. Home, the comforting outlines of the domed green roof barely discernable through the trees. Revived by the sight, she hastened down the hill across the sun-spangled snow.
She smiled as the round, two-storied house came into view. It was no mansion, like her childhood home. It couldn’t compare to any of the seven provincial palaces from which her father, the toqeph, reigned as the ruler of all Gannah. But she could think of nowhere she'd rather live than in this yellow stone cottage at the edge of the forest with her husband, Rosh, and their two boys.
Nor could she imagine a more perfect late-winter's day. Gannah's volatile temper was unusually mild that afternoon, with the sun smiling down from an azure sky and breezes caressing with a mother's gentleness. And today, this most beautiful of days, she, Atarah Hadassah Hagah Natsach, would finish her quest and be made Nasi.
She plunged toward the house and the last lap of her race, but she felt no euphoria. The test had been grueling, and she still must prepare the metheq and take it to her father. Surely once he approved her offering and declared her Nasi, her elation would know no bounds.
She left the woods and traversed unbroken drifts. Where busy laughter usually bubbled like a spring, a shroud of abandonment lay over all. True, her mother kept the children at Armown, and Rosh traveled Outside. But the silence seemed unnatural.
At the house, she removed her snowshoes and used a booted foot to sweep the snow from the threshold. Once inside, she closed her eyes and heaved a sigh.
Then she shivered.
Before embarking on her trek she'd set the temptrol to just above freezing, but the empty house felt frigid, a chill of the spirit more than the body.
Dassa tugged off her boots, took thick slippers from the shoe-warmer by the door and slid her numb feet into them. Next she shuffled through the dining area to the climate panel nestled in the gently curved, fabric-covered wall, and adjusted the control to a more comfortable temperature.
The heater rumbled awake then settled into its familiar hum as Dassa toured the vacant rooms. She hugged herself as the emptiness formed a shadow of foreboding in her heart. Nothing had been touched in her absence, but somehow, nothing was the same.
But she had neither time nor strength to waste on the puzzle. She headed back to the kitchen, where she shrugged off her travel-stained pack, laid it on the table and pulled out a heavy tin. Though mossberries weren't much bigger than the blue spots on a damebug's back, they were weighty, and this tin was full of them.
She removed her hooded coat and draped it on the back of a chair, then opened the tin and admired the glistening purple berries. Their rich fragrance made her mouth water. Hungry as she was, though, she wouldn't steal a taste.
Every Gannahan knew the legend of the would-be Nasi who completed his quest with valor until the end, but sampled a berry while preparing the metheq. When he then came before the toqeph, his purple-stained tongue told all. Because he'd yielded to temptation, he was disqualified from the Nasihood for the rest of his life.
The knights of Gannah wore neither badge nor uniform. The color from the mossberries eaten at their induction never left their tongues, and that was the mark of their rank. Some toqephs’ mouths were black because they ate each time a new Nasi pledged.
Dassa assembled the ingredients for a pie shell. Though the metheq could be any sort of treat in which mossberries played a role, her father loved pies, and she’d picked enough berries for a good one. Thinking of the pleasure it would give him, she scooped and measured, mixed and rolled.
An hour later, Dassa left the house with a bubbling-hot mossberry pie in a basket over her arm and ice skates slung over her shoulder. The ancient rules stated the Last Requirement must be performed entirely on foot, so she trudged past the hangar without stopping for the motorsled. If she continued on through the woods then cut across the frozen lake, she'd be at Armown in less than two hours. A baby step, compared to the distance she'd already come. She'd easily make it before nightfall.
A Great Story
Dassa nears the end of the challenges required for becoming an elite warrior, a Nasi. She's been out in the woods fasting by herself, traveling impossible distances and fending off deadly wild animals, for a couple of weeks. Now it's time to finish the quest. She drops by her deserted home, makes preparations, and heads for the capital city and her father, the king of the planet Gannah. But what she finds when she gets there more than horrifies her.
A virulent plague has struck in her absence. Soon she is the only living human on Gannah. She gets sick too.
Dr. Pik answers her interplanetary distress call, arriving two weeks later to save her from the virus. Problem is, this is the last place he wants to be. His planet, Karkar, had been devastated by Gannah long before. He'd like to see every last Gannahan dead, including Dassa.
Debut author Yvonne Anderson pulls a great story from this conflict, full of unexpected twists and turns. Her characters show us their emotions and draw us right into the tightly plotted tale. There's a strong underlying faith message. It's not at all a typical sci-fi story, which might emphasize the techno gee-whiz stuff. Instead, this story revolves around its characters.
What do I like most about this book? The character of Dr. Pik. He is amazingly different from the earnest, emotional Dassa. He's funny-looking, tall and thin with hair like straw, wearing makeup according to the custom of his people. His response to adversity? Complaining. His attitude toward others? Superiority. Heck, he can't even smile-he doesn't have the facial muscles. Instead, he and others from Karkar twiddle their ears to express emotion. So, how is that endearing? Read the book and find out! This book is first in a series, and I'm very interested in reading the rest.
A Story of Universal Faith
Atarah Hadassah Haga Natsach, or Dassa, has just finished her quest. She carries with her the precious mossberries that she must not eat until she presents it to her toqeph, Gannah's ruler. Now that she has completed this very difficult rite of passage, Dassa will become Nasi, a knight of high honour on her planet, one with considerable skill and power. All is not well upon her return. She senses the disquiet; but she mustn't stop until her quest is complete. Little does she know that the Gannah she once knew is no more and that she, barely a Nasi knight, will soon become not only its sole survivor; but also its toqeph, its spiritual leader and a powerful spiritual leader in the universe.
On a medical space ship stationed at a relatively nearby planet, one Karkar doctor, Pik, has been told that he must swallow his Karkar pride and inbred hatred of the Gannahan's in order to do what his training has taught him to do. As Pik learns to heal his enemy, he learns to forgive. It is a long and difficult journey for him, not just in planetary space travel; but also in light years of understanding and appreciation, to love and honour more than himself, more than his race; to love, as well, a supreme deity, God, the Creator of the entire universe. Pik is the only non-Gannahan who hears the music on Gannah. The music is the key to this deep faith that he must embrace.
The Story in the Stars goes beyond the mere science fiction novel. One is soon caught up in the story of stars and constellations and planets way beyond the known galaxy. It quickly leads the reader into a story of faith, a faith that connects all of the planets of the universe. It is an interesting theory. As one of the main characters, Dr. Pik, quickly learns, it is a theory that even science cannot find a reasonable explanation for it not to be true.
Yvonne Anderson was recently inspired by Joseph A. Seiss' 1882 publication, The Gospel in the Stars. This book became the inspiration for The Story in the Stars, the first book in her Gateway to Gannah series. She created a of cast fictional characters and fictional planets to weave her story of faith into an intergalactic fantasy, science fiction, Christian inspirational novel.
Anderson's The Story in the Stars is a captivating story, a real page turner as well as one that makes us mere Earthers (as she calls us) really wonder: what is out there and, do they, the terrestrials, share some of our beliefs? One can only hope. Well done! The Story in the Stars is highly recommended by award-winning author and Allbooks reviewer, Emily-Jane Hills Orford, Allbooks Reviews.
From ChristianSciFiAndFantasy Review
Originality - 5/5
Writing Style - 5/5
Plot - 5/5
Characters - 5/5
Aesthetics - 4/5
The more I read, the more I liked!
Dassa is the last of her race. Her world has been destroyed by a plague and the only one who can save her is Doctor Pik, a man who would rather have her entire race die with her. In fact, it was Dr. Pik's people who created the plague in the first place.
The Story in the Stars is a dynamic first novel. It's a story of grace, it's a story of obedience, it's a treasure-hunting story, it's a love story, and it's a story with an absolutely perfect ending.
Yvonne Anderson has created deep characters with an interesting back story. She tells her tale through rich descriptions, natural conversations, and a well-placed bit of humor every now and then.
The Story in the Stars is a poignant illustration of the Christian message. Most importantly, it delivers a fine example of how to offer forgiveness to those who have hurt us and what it means to sacrifice for the cause of Christ. It shows us what it means to struggle with our beliefs and how to handle our faith in the face of tragedy. If that weren't enough, there's even a guest appearance by the great American revivalist Jonathan Edwards!
As you read, you may find some things that seem odd, like the fact that the aliens often speak in King James English, but don't worry - it will all make sense.
The cover is good - it depicts the main character very well when she's in certain moods - I just wish it showed more action or included Dr. Pik along with her (a good six-fingered, non-facial-expressive alien image would have been a nice touch).
Overall, I feel very confident in recommending The Story in the Stars with a rating of Excellent. It will be interesting to see what Yvonne does with our very opposite characters next.
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