3 out of 4 stars
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After leaving the earth, humankind has colonized the planets Benan and Benan Ty. The Chi!me, the most influential race in the universe, send Ambassador Ar’Quila to Benan Ty. She aims to mediate a truce between the government and the ViaVera, an extremist group. A parallel storyline shows Terise, a distinguished member of the ViaVera, desperately trying to leave the radicals and spend a quiet life with her man. When Ar’Quila and Terise’s paths cross, both are unaware of what the future holds for them. Will they succeed in their quests? Or will the intricacies of Ty politics engulf them? Find out in Elaine Graham-Leigh’s debut novel, The Caduca.
Although the blurb described the book as political science fiction, its sole resemblance to science fiction involved a futuristic premise and a multi-planetary backdrop. The story itself was purely political, perfectly mirroring world politics. The reader could replace the planets for the nations on earth, and the novel would still make perfect sense. The themes and events felt too realistic, even to me with my limited comprehension of politics and diplomacy.
Graham-Leigh incorporated several grey characters, including politicians, members of intelligence services, and revolutionaries. Their faults, wrong judgment, and questionable choices made them relatable. I appreciated Ar’Quila’s strong faith in restoring peace and wanted her to succeed. I rooted for Terise, who wished nothing more than to free herself of the ViaVera. I admired Petrus Desailly for making a bold stand against the Chi!me despite knowing he would fail. At the same time, I could not agree with his decision, as he knew his non-compliance might jeopardize the lives of the Ty population. The enigmatic Jebans, the indigenous people of Benan Ty, captivated me with their mystical ways of life and religious beliefs.
Graham-Leigh featured a curious hierarchy of oppression. The Chi!me presided over the universe, even exerting authority over the United Planets, a supposedly neutral organization. The planet Benan, in its turn, tried to control the smaller and less influential Benan Ty. The government of Benan Ty had all but abolished the Jeban people from the latter’s home planet. An unquenchable lust for power led to clever manipulations, power games, and shocking betrayal. The Ty people suffered endlessly while the political leaders fled the planet. The media embellished the facts in favor of the politicians. All these sounded uncomfortably familiar, leaving the readers to ponder. How far could you gaze into the abyss before the abyss gazed into you?
I would have given the book four stars had it not been for the editing issues. Deducting one star for the errors, I rate the novel 3 out of 4 stars. This book would be perfect for politically aware readers. I would also recommend this to anyone looking for a thought-provoking read. However, the complex themes and the violent incidents require a mature audience.
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