3 out of 4 stars
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Neworld Papers is a science fiction novel by K.B. Shaw, composed of two books: The Historian’s Tale and The Warriors’ Tale. Fallon is a young man who lives at the Mount, a school for boys in Neworld. Neworld is a planet with two suns: the larger, brighter, distant SolMajor, and the smaller, dimmer, closer SolMinor. Due to an incredible memory and drawing talent, Fallon can recreate still frames of real-life memories perfectly, provided they are from the last two “annums” (Earth years). One day, two Dark Men – who work for Chancellor Brennan, the man heading the Neworld Council – interrogate and murder their prisoner, Vernon McCreigh, at the Mount. Hiding nearby, Fallon sees everything, later sketching the horrific scene in vivid detail. Soon, an older woman, Missus Grier, and her assistant, Bedford, buy Fallon from Headmaster Hunninger, taking the young man to explore an unknown region known as the Fount of Life, where kons (souls) allegedly arrive and leave Neworld. This forms a part of the Below, a mysterious region never before explored by anyone. Fallon's discoveries here challenge the word of the Council and the long-held beliefs of Neworld’s occupants…
Neworld Papers started with a glossary to familiarise the reader with terms peculiar to Neworld. With only 14 such terms, most concerned with solar cycles and reproductive issues, I quickly learned and remembered these. The author’s writing and editing were fantastic; I enjoyed the writing style and the story immediately. The characterisations were simple yet specific, giving a good sense of each character without lingering too long on the description.
Fallon’s quest was mysterious and intriguing, a real adventure to unknown places for an undisclosed purpose. Shaw maintained this aura of mystery nicely, keeping me keen to learn more. Strange new wonders appeared on the journey as the story of Neworld’s history grew, combining science and mythology. I enjoyed the richness of Shaw’s world, its details fleshed out as Fallon discovered them. The history of Neworld grew more interesting by the chapter, while the Dark Men, the Green Jackets, and the chancellor added ominous elements to the narrative.
Neworld Papers also included some interesting science, with characters applying problem-solving skills to find technical solutions to complex problems. Fans of genuine science fiction – like Andy Weir’s The Martian – will enjoy these parts of the book. Character relationships also grew and evolved naturally throughout the narrative. In fact, every part of this book felt so seamless and immersive that I quickly became lost in the story. The ending also wrapped things up nicely, with a definite sense of closure.
Unfortunately, Neworld Papers did have occasional minor errors such as missing punctuation or a missed word. Considering the length of the book, there weren’t many, but I did find ten errors by page 290 out of 540. I can thus only rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. With these minor errors fixed, this is a definite 4-star book, filled with genuine characters and an immersive new world. Any genuine science fiction fan should enjoy this book; it has only minor profanity and low-level sex scenes.
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