Black Storm Rising [Paperback]
by D. Shane Burton
From the depths of time there rises an ancient yet technologically advanced threat from a forgotten era of human history. On a planet linked to Earth, yet far removed, humanity has thrived in great diversity, yet now the very fabric of its society is endangered. Legendary heroes from long ago join together with modern explorers and soldiers to stand against the threat, or die in the attempt. The battle between good and evil is joined anew as the fate of a world hangs in the balance.
Volume 1 of The Orianus Creation Series
Xulon Press (February 2003). Trade paperback. 376 pages.
Author Web Site(s): http://www.geocities.com/dsburton_1999/index.html
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Black Storm Rising is an ambitious first novel. It's set on Kaeldon, a parallel world connected to our Earth by a small number of rifts. Several hundred years after Noah's flood, a tribe wandering through the wilderness passed through one of these rifts and into the new world. Although the two worlds' histories then diverged, the Kaeldonian culture wound up enough like ours that the differences are not jarring. They still kept a relationship with God, and he eventually led them to their own experience and relationship with Jesus. There are some thought-provoking parallels, including a reference to catching a fish with a coin in its mouth!
The book succeeds because the strongest link between the two worlds is spiritual: the inhabitants of Kaeldon, and the related worlds, all know the same God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit we do. And because the protagonists are fighting the same kind of evil they would be fighting on Earth, we can connect with them.
The preliminary "Historical Background" is concise and lets the reader jump into the story. Characters are well described and differentiated. However, there is some exaggeration of personality traits that could be expressed more subtly. Often technology and people are described instead of being shown; unnecessary adjectives slow the narrative a bit.
A team of allies has to fight and defeat another group that's bent on spiritual world conquest. Each team is plausible, with varied members that do not rely on stereotypes. The good guys, however, have a similarity to the crew of the Enterprise in Star Trek: the Next Generation. But this is not a slavish imitation. The robot isn't Data, and the alien equivalent definitely isn't Worf.
One of the antagonists shows genuine potential: Tumult has a wife who loves him and cautions him not be reckless, or to play his crazy music too loudly, as he goes off to do battle. When he encounters the faith of the godly team, he ponders it instead of rejecting it. While the worst of the antagonists are purely evil, others are folks who made wrong choices, and could have headed in a different direction. But the leaders truly are doomed.
The evil comes from a legalistic organization, the Dominus-Bobba cult, whose focus is on riches and power, not on a relationship with Jesus. Just as the heroes have spiritual help on their side, the D-B group has spiritual evil on its side. They are the equivalent to any of numerous legalistic, power-hungry groups, whether religious or political.
Black Storm Rising is reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings, but as science fiction instead of fantasy. It also captures the feel of the good old-fashioned hard sci-fi of the fifties and sixties. The technology of the various battle machines and weapons could come right out of a Tom Clancy or an Isaac Asimov novel. But these are inspirations, not blueprints. The multiple subplots are easy to follow, but it's best to read the book in large segments.
A few of the good characters are incredibly, but plausibly, super human and very long-lived. One is a crossover from our world and is recognizable when his true identity comes out. These individuals provide an extra dimension to the heroes' team.
Black Storm Rising is a serious story, but there are elements of humor, both in the personalities of some of the characters, and in the occasional passing comment ("Working for a megalomaniac was a real pain").
The Christian message, and the faith of the protagonists, is clear but not heavy-handed. The overall theme is absolute good vs. absolute evil. While the protagonists aren't perfect, the Jesus that they worship is the source of their strength and inspiration. This is what gives them the edge they need.
Overall, Black Storm Rising is a solid story that's well told. My only serious criticisms are that descriptions are sometimes wordier than necessary, and that the book itself could be shortened and tightened. Also, there tend to be unnecessary hyphens in expressions such as "worked-up" and apostrophes that shouldn't be where they are. But these are minor distractions in a story that succeeds.
Black Storm Rising the first book in the Orianus Creation series.
Reviewed January 10, 2004 for Edenstar by Bill Bader.
Product Code: 1105