Journey Into the Gateway of Dimensions [Paperback]
by Josh Michael Burton
During a routine research mission to the Great Pomian Forest, a Khaetorian High Council science officer unwittingly releases an imprisoned evil creature. The beast resumes his quest to obliterate the governing body of Icacia and replace it with his demonic rule. Soon afterward, a hidden scroll is discovered which reveals the location of the fabled Gateway of Dimensions. When the scroll is stolen by a madman bent on gaining the Gateway's power, an eclectic group of scientist-explorers is drawn together in a race against time to stop the madman and prevent the evil beast from destroying the very existence of Icacia's many tribes.
Volume 1 of The Tayan Chronicles
Xulon Press (May 2002). Trade paperback. 336 pages.
Author Web Site(s): http://www.joshmichaelburton.com/
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Nearly three thousand years ago, a group of humans traveled to the world Icacia via a taya (a dark matter conduit) on the Yucatan Peninsula. Two thousand years after, they were followed by eleven other tribes. These were the results of genetic experimentation by the ancient Mayan empireís alchemist priests who had designed them to be slave labor for the so-called nobility.
The earliest group, the Hymnil, designed and maintained their own unique genetic makeup by scientific methods; the later arrivals kept their racial purity by marrying within their own groups. Eventually, the Hymnil used their advanced science to devise the Gateway of Dimensions, a spiral network of multiple taya. This led to 75 years of civil wars and near annihilation as different societies competed to gain its control and power. The few remaining Hymnil then isolated themselves on one of Icaciaís moons, vowing never to reveal the Gatewayís location, and to prevent its use by others should they happen to find it.
Each tribe has specific strengths, weaknesses, appearances, temperaments, cultural identities, and so on. Together, they provide a full range of human traits, and many that are not found in Earthís humans. Mostly, they interact peaceably, although there are exceptions to this.
The location of the Gateway has been forgotten, but the peoples remember its existence. When a mutant Hymnil, Galsheem, is inadvertently released from confinement, it becomes necessary to prevent an unspeakably evil being to gain control of the Gateway in an attempt to replace God himself. Itís not an easy battle: the one between good and evil never is. Galsheem is determined to replace the Living God, and he shows serious potential for achieving this. He will not let anything get in his way. His opponents do not have his ruthlessness, but they do have conviction and faith--a stronger combination.
Mr. Burton has successfully captured the feel of the good old-fashioned science fiction of the fifties and sixties in a way thatís fresh and imaginative.
Not fearing complexity, he creates a narrative involving twelve societies. Each contributes to the storyline. And yet, Mr. Burton pulls it off. While relying on character names to carry the tale, he interjects the tribal names enough to keep matters clear, but not so often as to be annoying. Still, I often flipped back to the helpful illustrations at the beginning.
While there is one overarching plotline--the attempts of various protagonists to keep the sublimely evil Galsheem, there are several subplots and narrative lines which Mr. Burton weaves together skillfully. I found it easiest to keep track of events and persons by reading in large portions. While this was easy and fun to do, it still takes time. A 336-page trade paperback is more than an eveningís light read!
The story is serious, but contains enough humor (situational, characteroid, verbal) to keep the book from being ponderous. Banter between characters, witty observations, and the occasional well-placed pun added to my enjoyment.
A major strength is the characters themselves. They carry the story, instead of the story carrying them. They interact plausibly, and many of the protagonists are just plain likeable. At the end, I realized I want to know What Happens Next. In places the dialogue is a bit melodramatic, but it works. Other times, there is a slight formality that gives the speakers a certain charm. Creating this many voices is a formidable challenge, and Mr. Burton succeeds.
Since this is a Christian novel, faith is a necessary component. Mr. Burton includes it convincingly and sometimes more effectively than some better-established authors. Dialogues are natural. Yes, there are a number of conversions, but they never seem contrived. And they arenít spur-of-the-moment, instant makeovers--characters consider, ponder, and come to salvation more realistically than is often the case in Christian fiction. And because there are so many characters, we see a number of different approaches.
There are a few minor flaws. Typos, while scarce, arenít nonexistent. None interfere with the story; however one more proofread might have helped. But this is a really small quibble.
Journey into the Gate of Dimensions is a marvelously enjoyable book. I look forward to the sequel (information about the second and third books is available at http://www.joshmichaelburton.com/).
Reviewed September 13, 2004 for Edenstar by Bill Bader.
Product Code: 1106