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4 Stars Out Of 5
November 9, 2010
Thank God for glossaries.
Without one, I would have been lost in Sauria, Stuart Vaughn Stockton's alien world. Reading sample chapters online had left me drowning in unfamiliar places, people, and terms. After obtaining a copy and paging through the glossary at the back of the book a few times, though, I was ready to tackle Stockton's debut novel, Starfire.
The book was long (over five hundred pages, glossary and introductory material included), but well worth the week and a half I spent devouring it. Stockton's story world is rich and strangely familiar, despite the utter lack of a humanoid. Dinosaurs fill the pages, but they form well-drawn characters with struggles and emotions as real as my own.
The plotting was well-done, although perhaps it could have been a little more concise. I was intimidated by the length, and while the pacing is good, it wasn't exactly rip-roaring the whole way through. I suppose this is the sacrifice made for a strange universe populated with strange beings. Stockton had just enough twists to keep it unpredictable, but not so many that it was hard to follow the story.
Stockton's writing was excellent, so excellent that I'm having trouble reflecting back on it. For the majority of the novel, it was as if the author had ceased to exist. The Christian elements weren't subtle, but they blended well with the story. The secrets of the jerkrenak and the Grakil blew me away. Also, the main character's choice at the end surprised me. Nine out of ten modern Christian novels would have ended differently, but Stockton chose to remain true to his character, and the story is better for it.
The climax amazed me. I thought I had it figured out, but Stockton had a few aces up his sleeve that he saved for the very end. I was left hungering for more, with plenty of unanswered questions to be answered (I hope) in The Mending, Book 2.
Starfire is amazing in its originality, the world Stockton has created is one equal to J. R. R. Tolkein's Middle Earth. It's action meets the expectations of the readers of James Rollins and Michael Crichton.
Rathe, a saurian that happens upon an event that jolts him to top in military status, is given a mission that could make it or break it for him. He is the guardian of a weapon from a war fought and gone.
This is a story of adventure, treachery and betrayal that will leave the readers breathless and on the edge of your seat begging for the sequel.
Starfire was a completely surprising story. I would have never thought Id like a story about dinosaur people. But Rathe is a fun character to read about. He is practical and tough and easy to relate to. He prefers to make his own path in life and cant see how some mixed-up, homicidal god could lay out a better track for his life than he could himself. Like Star Wars, Stuart Vaughn Stocktons dinosaur creatures are all new and unfamiliar, so it was fun to imagine such a world. Stockton also provides a marvelous chart in the front of the book that shows the shape and size of each species in relation to each other. It was extremely helpful. As I read, I kept flipping back to the front to compare the species as I got to know each character.This is pretty much a guy book. Its about fighting and war and cool weapons and dinosaurs who bite each others heads offonly if they really have to. Pretty awesome stuff, depending on your interests. There is no romance in this story, but Rathe is a softy at heart and carries the smaller engineer female around on his back so she wont have to walk. Hes the kind of guy Id want fighting for my world. All in all, this was an action-packed adventure. I highly recommend it for those who love science fiction, fantasy, and epic tales of war.