Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Word Unleashed

Last night, right before I drifted off to sleep, I finished The Word Unleashed by Steve Rzasa, the second book in what I'm assuming is a trilogy called The Face of the Deep.

The story picks up where the first book left off. Baden Haczyk has found a "text-in-violation," a Bible. Apparently in this semi-dystopian future, Kesek, the thought police for the Realm of Five, keep everyone under their brutal thumb. The rule of law in the Realm says that any printed religious text is illegal as are most religions. Baden's discovery of the Bible in the first book landed him in a world of trouble, especially since it thrust him into the center of a conflict between Kesek and the rightful king of the Realm.

In this, the second book, Baden finds himself in the center of controversy yet again. Christians are clamoring to hear his Bible read. They want the Word shared. But his mysterious new friend, Jason, wants to take the Bible to a place called Alexandria where it can be hidden away and kept safe. Baden is torn; should he share what he's found or should he get rid of it as soon as possible?

As torn as Baden is, the situation in the Realm is getting worse. Kesek has kidnapped King Andrew II and are making moves to consolidate their control of this interstellar Realm. But opposition forces are already at work, mostly led by members of the Verge family, in a desperate attempt to overthrow the nascent tyrannical leadership of Kesek and restore freedom to the Realm.

I'm not sure what to make of this book, to be honest. On the one hand, Rzasa has done his homework in terms of world building. His Realm has a certain gritty realism, especially when it comes to his technology. It's easy to tell that he's given a lot of thought to how interstellar travel works along with a lot of attendant technology.

At the same time, though, I felt oddly detached from the story. I don't know why that is exactly; I kept trying to pinpoint the exact factor that created this distance but never could. I think part of it is phraseology and word choices. There were times when Rzasa's descriptions didn't ring quite right (and no, I can't get more specific than that; they just left an odd taste in my mind, to mix my metaphors a little).

I think part of it also stemmed from the apparent lack of deep motivation for E. H. Gironde, the leader of Kesek. He wants to overthrow King Andrew II and everything he stands for but I had no idea why aside from an almost cartoonish megalomania.

That's not to say that I didn't like this book. I did. It's just not one of my "new favorites." I'll be interested in seeing where the story goes from here since, in my opinion, it almost seemed like Rzasa had wrapped up the plot in its entirety. It'll be interesting to see where the Word goes from here.

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