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Redemption (English Edition) Format Kindle
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Captain Li, a dedicated, highly-principled commander, has been imprisoned and tortured by the ChiTseTsi, an alien race, for 4 years. Captured during a war with them with his entire crew, he is the only lead officer who comes out of a prisoner release with a sound mind and in repairable health. He feels responsible for his crew, and does everything he can to visit them, but is prevented by the bureaucracy who put him in space and who deems the slender thread that holds his two most-senior officers to reality will unravel at the mere sight of him.
His own recuperation is a long process, but with determination he returns to work-readiness. He wants a ship; he needs a ship, to command and to become part of. He senses some opposition amongst those in charge, some who have no personal experience of space duty, and by superior wit he manages to find the right advocate to assist him in his attempt to be reassigned.
Eventually he becomes attached to a science ship that is also well equipped to fight, should entanglements occur. There are several alien races with whom the humans have come into contact; the Huer, who they fought 20 years earlier and with whom now they enjoy a somewhat strained peace; the Walawi, a race with whom they have dealt but not fought; the Chadanor, a devious bunch of thieves and fighters; and the aforementioned ChiTseTsi, who have recently broken off hostilities but who no serious other race would trust to tell the time of day.
In rich detail, Mr Burk brings the reader to an understanding of the various components of this story; the humans, who are pretty much the same as usual - good and bad - but who he presents in a way to give us hope that we may, indeed, some day find it as easy to communicate and work with alien races as Captain Picard seems to on Star Trek (I felt, often, while reading the accounts of ship's procedure and tests that I was watching it much as I would Star Trek. A computer aboard the human's ship the Krishna reminded me of Data.).
Also aboard this vessel are some representatives of some of the other races; in fact, Captain Li has chosen a Huer for a high position on the ship. The Huer, Brod, is from a race of large beings who prize dedication to various disciplines. Brod's particular line is the Warrior clan, and he excels at living as a Warrior. Good with weapons and highly intelligent, he is also as principled as is Captain Li, and they sense in each other a camaraderie. Another crew member whose skill at the helm wins her that position is a Walawi, a furred biped adept at concentration to a task.
The ship's first duty is to resupply outposts in space, and all goes well until they come upon a science station perilously near space claimed by the Chadanor (I couldn't help thinking of the Chadanor as a kind of fiercer and more bloodthirsty Ferengi, since they are known thieves). The science station has been destroyed, its crew of non-strategic scientists and assistants murdered gruesomely. Blatant clues are left that would point toward another race; but are they red herrings? Their plans to follow the signature of the ship that caused the mayhem is enhanced by an encounter with yet another race, the Valek - who may or may not have war on their minds. One of their ships has been similarly destroyed - with human clues aboard. It would seem that their best plan of attack is to ally with the Krishna in the search for the destroyers.
Mr Burk leaves nothing to chance in his writing, giving each character their own voice and personality and creating character development so subtly that the reader becomes familiar with the protagonists as though standing next to them. He leaves the conception of appearance up to the reader, but with enough clues that - while each reader may come up with a very different mental view of each character - they are, nonetheless, clear in the mind's eye. His grasp of techno-talk - I really don't know how much he knows about shipboard workings, but it sounds good - has the ring of an engineer; and he indisputably understands weapons. He draws on many sources to create cultures for the different races, and they all ring true and fascinating. For instance, the Huer - my favorite of the races - seem to share a common ancestor with a wolflike being on their home planet called a plainstalker. At the same time, they reminded me of certain American Indian tribes.
Altogether, this is a most fascinating book and totally engaged my attention. And the action of the space encounters was vivid and intense. Thumbs up on this one.
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