Review: Ephialtes by Gavin E. Parker ★★★★

Ephialtes by Gavin E. ParkerIn the middle of the 23rd Century, the foremost military power of Earth – the United States and Nations or “USAN” – has drawn conclusion to World War IV. In the wake of victory, there are events occurring on the single human colony of Mars: there are motions in the small colony for a claim to secede. The move comes at critical time of resumed elections on Earth. Pressure to control the situation escalates circumstances quickly, the Secretary of Defense, Audrey Andrews, moves the president to send their new flagships Otus and Ephialtes to the colony as a show of force.

The task of refitting falls on Askel Lund, who happens to be an ex-flame of USAN Commander Bobby Karjalainen, currently on Mars to visit his dying father. When Dr. Daniel Kostovich of Venkdt Mars Corp begins to exploit vulnerabilities in the USAN information networks and the social economy of the post-war situation, shadowy figures begin to pull strings in the emerging conflict, strings that pull Bobby and Askel back into each others’ orbits. The Ephialtes becomes a particular stage of interest in Ephialtes by Gavin E. Parker.

A short summary of this space-opera sci-fi tale is difficult to manage for several reasons. The story is fairly long in page count at over 450 pages, all of which packed with intricacies of character and plot. The core of the story is mired in politics and military maneuvering but it doesn’t get slowed down by the finer points, constantly moving forward and presented through singular interactions to root actions in humanity. The book switches focus appropriately between the large-stage events and the smaller, personal ones without making either part apart from the other, keeping it interesting.

The shining elements of the novel are the rich setting that sports regular nuggets of flavor to the story for those able to pull together snatches of additional world-building and plot. The book has convincing sci-fi elements that naturally lead from modern day, keeping understandable but with futuristic wonder nonetheless.

The book features a fairly sparse cover that basically conforms to the expectations of a space-faring novel, but remains bland and devoid of character. A pity that a more ambitious exterior couldn’t have been made to enclose the fairly hefty tome, which has a great deal of beauty in its pages. The text is wonderfully presented and clear, as well as descriptive and evocative. The book oozes quality throughout, but remains merely fairly passable on its cover, sticking out as a minor but glaring weak point.

For fans of this kind of military sci-fi, there’s every reason to pick this title up. The book is an exceptional example of its genre that does all it sets out for succinctly, but pushes for a full, fleshed-out trilogy as something to look forward to: a trilogy that seems likely to meet expectations.

Ephialtes is the first part of the Ephialtes Trilogy, the following installments upcoming. A short story in the same universe has also been published, called See the Worlds.

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