I don’t read many novels and I rarely write reviews. The sci-fi books I’ve read could be counted on one hand. After a friend told me about this ‘epic book’ he got on Kindle, I took the risk of buying my own copy of Veterans of the Psychic Wars. I’m glad I did. I’ve read the book twice now, and I enjoyed the second reading even more than the first, as there was no learning curve (more about that later).
From the very beginning, Veterans of the Psychic Wars immerses you into a carefully crafted environment filled with constant tension, paranormal activity and a sense that death can come from anywhere, especially where you least expect it. Many characters are not who or what they first appear to be.
Characterization. The characters are not only intriguing because of what they say, what they do and what they fail to do are equally interesting. The heroes often reveal personal weaknesses usually associated with villains, such as fear, addiction, arrogance, jealousy, vindictiveness and uncertainty. Some characters change more than others. The Prince Armon of chapter 82 bears little resemblance to the constantly endangered and confused Roman Doyle of the first 10 chapters. We are treated to in-depth back-stories of all the main players. Roman Doyle’s traumatic childhood and his struggle to overcome his secret fears made him all the more sympathetic.
World-building. I am amazed at how much detail went into the imaginative and convincing cultures, religions, politics, technologies and languages featured in this book. From the idyllic tropical setting of the Caribbean island of Trinidad to the formidable gravity and constant acid rain of the planet Miru, I am stunned by the rich complexity of Trotman’s well-crafted environments.
Glossary. Like Frank Herbert’s Dune and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Veterans of the Psychic Wars has a superb glossary of terms. This is where any doubts regarding Trotman’s world-building prowess were eliminated. It is extensive and even manages to be amusing as it is written entirely from the point of view of a scribe who views the planet Earth as little more than an ancient myth.
Humor. There are several similarities between this book and Dune, but whereas Herbert’s masterpiece is humorless, Veterans of the Psychic Wars has Roman’s sarcastic thoughts, Zachary Silverman’s one-liners and Chi-Ro Jin’s biting insults - irony galore.
No typos. Unlike all of the other novels I’ve read on Kindle, I was unable to find a single typo. Considering the size of the book, I’d think that was quite an achievement.
A great ending that left me eagerly anticipating further adventures.
Learning curve. This book initially calls for a very steep learning curve. In the beginning I shared Roman’s confusion. We were both exposed to a great deal of information regarding unknown individuals and alien worlds, which may or may not have been just the figment of Chi-Ro Jin’s imagination. I’m glad I did not give up – the glossary helps. In the end, I could put all the pieces of the jigsaw together thanks to all that information I was forced to absorb at the beginning, but the many alien names and archaic English words – ‘verily’ springs readily to mind – made for a sometimes difficult read. Not everyone enjoys trawling thru dictionaries and glossaries.
Pace: From the start, the story goes along at a very fast pace. Great if you love lots of action, but if you’re looking for a leisurely read with lots of pages with little or no activity, this is not the book for you.
Size: It’s a big book. It could easily have been split into two.
Violence and gore: There is quite a lot of it.
It’s not perfect, but it’s still a great book with all the hallmarks of a classic epic. The mundane, contemporary earthbound settings of the opening scenes will not prepare you for the massive space battles and awesome technology of later chapters. Despite his low-key entrance, I grew to really like Roman Doyle, whose devotion to his family is unflinching as he evolves into a truly classic hero. Also notable is Chi-Ro Jin’s unwavering loyalty. A great book I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.