Friday, November 11, 2016

Book Review: STARCRAFT-Evolution - Timothy Zahn

Timothy Zahn
STARCRAFT: Evolution
Del Rey
Science Fiction

I have been reading Timothy Zahn books since he started putting out Star Wars novels. There is not one book that he has ever written that has ever disappointed me. STARCRAFT: Evolution is no exception. I do, however, have a confession. I am not a gamer. I've heard of Starcraft, but . . . When I was reading this book, I'll admit, I was Google-Imaging the monsters. Not that Zahn didn't describe everything wonderfully, but because I knew there would be a ton of images out on the net. And there was. And it was extra-helpful.

The War between the Terran, Protoss, and the Zerg is over. It is a time for rebuilding. Trust among the races is limited. After the death of his father, Valerian Mengsk has stepped up as the new emperor of the Terran Dominion. Unlike his father, he refuses to brain-pan marines, and now allows ghosts who want out of the program to leave. Peace, aside from restructuring, is his primary focus. When they receive a vague request for assistance from the Zerg, Valerian is determined to at least try bridging an alliance.

Against counsel, Valerian assembles a small team for the journey across the stars. Marine Sergeant, Foster "Whist" Cray, Lieutenant Ranger, Dennis Halkman, Ghost, Tanya Caulfield, researcher, Protoss Ulavu, and xeno-biologist Dr. Erin Wayland.

The Zerg, a race of exoskeleton beasts like mammoth monsters, are led by Zagara, Queen of the Swarm. She and her evolutionist, Abathur have also been busy since the war. Now living on the plush planet, Gystt, once thought destroyed, they are doing their best to rebuild, cultivating new plant life, and new life in general.

Although Zagara claims the Gift of Choice was given to her by the Queen of Blades, and that her ruling is no longer violence based, but to create an empire of peace, neither the Terran nor the Protoss believe her. They want to, they are just struggling to accept the sudden one-eighty in behavior.

With limited information, Valerian and his team decidedly rely on goodwill and faith when they agree on helping the queen. What they uncover is a trap. Mutalisks, (almost like the grunt soldiers of the queen), and a new race, psyolisks, have some kind of sinister plan in store for the Terran, and Protoss enlisted to offer the queen aid.

On the planet, the ambushes are relentless. It looks like the queen may have employed sneaky tactics to trick the other raises to respond to her pleas for assistance. As Valerian’s team works to uncover the mystery around the pods of infantile creatures, and the odd attack patterns.

With limited long range communications, the fight on Gystt’s surface looks as if it will be one to the death. Unless, that is, they can uncover the truth behind the new breed of monsters attacking them!

Timothy Zahn’s novel (almost) makes me want to go out and buy the Starcraft video games. It does, however, make me wish for more books in the series. The characters are three-dimensional, and clear. I can see them as if real people while reading. The banter, the wit, the frustration, the anger, and the friendship was all evident in crisp, concise dialogue, and relevant narrative.

STARCRAFT: Evolution was a fast ride, an intense journey, and epic tale of war! Loved it.

Phillip Tomasso

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