Review: The Word Reclaimed

Here is how I feel about cliffhangers: AAAAAAAAAUUUUUUGH!

It doesn’t help that I am still nursing a feeling of rawness over the lack of resolution in Bryan Davis’s Masters and Slayers. I had to take my raw self wading into Steve Rzasa’s space opera The Word Reclaimed, suspecting more and more that this story was too big for its 460 pages. I was right.

Actually, the first thing to strike me about this book was that it is big. And I was reading a file on a Kobo, so I’m not talking about physical size. The list of significant characters and their ships/home planets/family groups in the book’s front matter was almost overwhelming (to the point where I wonder if it would have been better placed in the back of the book where prospective readers couldn’t see it and faint before they even get into the story). Thankfully, I didn’t faint, and I did get into the story.

The Word Reclaimed is a space opera (think Star Wars with Nazis and fewer aliens) set in the year 2602, when the people of Earth have colonized four other major worlds and united under a kingdom called the Realm of Five. The kingdom has long been benevolent, but Kesek, a secret police force in charge of enforcing a treaty of tolerance across religions, is anything but—and their power with the king is growing.

One of Kesek’s biggest roles is the capture and destruction of religious texts, including the Bible, the Qu’ran, and the Hindu Sutras. So when a surly teenager named Baden, son of an Expatriate merchant and member of the crew of the Natalia Zoja, salvages a Bible from a pirate wreck, it’s bound to change his life—but in ways he can’t imagine. From the moment he comes across the Bible, Baden begins to see visions and hear voices.

At the same time, the Verge family—a family of warriors from the planet Starkweather—are called into action to put down an alleged rebellion on an outlying planet called Bethel, one of the last Christian colonies in the Realm. Cadet Trainee Alec Verge is given the chance to go along with his father, Lt. Colonel James Verge, and other stories relatives, including his aunt,  Commander Colleen Verge—who, as it happens, is also dreaming dreams . . .

The crew of the Natalia Zoja and the deployed troops from Starkweather will meet up eventually as treachery brings them into the battle of their lives—and the beginning of a battle for the Realm—and as a God who seems to be seeking them brings them into a battle for their souls.

Marcher Lord Press publisher and editor-in-chief Jeff Gerke gives this background info on the MLP website:

Steve’s space opera is truly an epic. Though there are dozens of characters, many of whom are superficially similar—space marines, deep space navigators, young cadets, trained assassins—I was somehow never confused who was who.

That, in and of itself, is remarkable. Then add a brilliant story of deep treachery, a crumbling monarchy, forbidden faith, and a warrior family’s pride—all set against the recovery of a book so dangerous that the secret police would wipe out a world to obtain—and you’ve got a recipe for incredible speculative fun.

But the thing was very long. Like 170,000 words long. I started looking for a cliffhanger around the midpoint. We ended up finding a great one.

You bet they did. But don’t let that stop you from diving in—Book 2, The Word Unleashed, is already out.







4 responses to “Review: The Word Reclaimed”

  1. Rachel Starr Thomson Avatar

    Yup, it’s for adults. I really enjoyed it. I agree that family trees etc. can be really cool as well as interesting. Your book shouldn’t NEED them, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be an asset!

  2. Elisabeth Avatar

    I like books that have lists of characters and things in the front – family trees or whatever. I read somewhere that if you have to list your characters, you can’t tell the story well enough … but I think family trees, maps and diagrams can really PULL a reader into the world of a book – especially if the world of book is NOT the world of the author! How neat that this book (for adults, I assume!) had lists in the front – and was BIG!

  3. Rachel Avatar

    No problem, Steve! I think you can say it was done well — I bought your second book and am waiting with bated breath until it gets here so I can finish the story. And I do understand the economic and physical difficulties of publishing novels the size of Encyclopedia Britannica. Thanks for a fantastic story!

  4. Steve Rzasa Avatar

    Thanks for the review, Rachel — and my apologies for the necessary cliffhanger 🙂 I too tend to feel that way about cliffhangers, unless they’re done well!

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