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By: William H. Drinkard
Reviewed by: Kirk Hardesty
Tor Books, 2008
$25.95, Hardcover

Who is the Creator? What is the Creator’s plan? In William H. Drinkard’s first novel, he explores these universal questions. Writing in the science-fiction genre, which is ideally suited for the examination of society and civilization, the author takes his readers on an epic journey where the principal characters are challenged with the possible extinction of their race. In facing this challenge, the characters get an unprecedented backstage look at the forces affecting the evolution of their people and the social structure that drives their cultural progression on Elom, a planet near the center of the galaxy.

The book revolves around seven well-developed characters. Friendships, conflicts, and family relationships ebb and flow at a natural pace. Each character represents the top development of a particular characteristic desired within his/her society. The seven are charged by the highest ranked women, the wisest social leaders, to meet the challenge called by their Creator and by Geerna, the long dead first ancestor who was taken from Earth and began the millennia-long development of the race.

Drinkard presents a well-planned, well-defined social structure within which each member’s place is strictly prescribed by ancient protocol. But the time has come when all must be questioned. Snook, a new and strange man appears just in time to save the life of Kalmer, the best hunter in his village, when Kalmer nearly dies in his quest to repeat his grandfather’s legendary feat: the single- handed slaying of a cave lion. Snook is an albino from a village with a seemingly odd social structure unknown to Kalmer and his people. As Snook and Kalmer explore their fledgling friendship, each begins to reexamine the norms that have unerringly guided their lives to this point.

Dera, the most gifted artist in her village, is startled one day to discover her younger brother Izzy at work creating a clay sculpture—work strictly reserved for women. Dera is even more surprised when her attempt to hide her brother’s inferior work fails, and one of the reptilian drak, believing the sculpture to be one of Dera’s, declares the piece to be just as well crafted as her own during one of the drak’s periodic trading visits to the village. These and other events lead the group to ponder the fabric of their world as they are sent on the quest of a lifetime.

Throughout the book, Drinkard peels away layers of mystery, sometimes only partly, as the story unfolds and the chosen seven are lead by the drak, who have deeper mysteries of their own, along their journey to stand before the Creator for the future of their race. Nov 08

Kirk Hardesty writes poetry and reads at home in the Alabama woods.

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