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Water Harvest

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by Eric Diehl


I eagerly picked up this book based on the title and concept. Water rights may very well be the cause of conflicts and outright war over the next century, and I wanted to see how the author treated this subject. I was sorry to find out, though, that this book had pretty much nothing to do with water. The raiding of atmospheric water by lunar colonies was merely a cause to get the plot going.

The novel focuses on the House Alar, a first-among-equals in the great planetary houses of the Alliance. House Alar has been leading the planet for at least 3,000 years, and, depending on how the text is interpreted, perhaps as much as 100,000 years. Never before defeated, the House falls to a lunar colony which uses advanced technology and the magic of a guild of sorcerers. The rest of the Alliance takes various actions to include joining the invaders, fighting, and withdrawing to do nothing.

The Head of the House Alar, Gar, is taken prisoner where the Maester Viizar, Gezladorn, uses sorcerous powers to subvert his brain. Gar's son, Cairn, travels the planet to try and form some sort of resistance to the lunar rule.

This novel will fit in nicely with the expectations of the sword and sorcery crowd, even if the sorcery, while vital, is not prevalent in all aspects of the tale.

Personally, I have a problem with books which mix scifi and sword and sorcery fantasy. I can't grasp why people who fight with interplanetary fighter craft, molecular cannons, force fields, and such also carry swords, throwing stars, staves, and crossbows. In one situation, Cairn laments the fact that in order to save weight on his fightercraft, he did not bring a sidearm, yet he brought a rather large broadsword.

And one pet peeve of mine, although certainly this is not limited to this novel, is that there seems to be an inordinate amount of time in which noble houses rule and things remain static in this type of book. Even if you take the 3,000 year time-frame given in the book, that is a long, long time for any political entity to remain on top. And when you consider the 100,000 year description, well, that is longer than the history of modern man on Earth, so shouldn't things change more in this amount of time?

I am also not too sure why Cairn's discovery of the humanoid subterranean people was put in the novel. First, these people have been living underground beneath the men for 100,000 years, but they were unknown until Cairn just happens to stumble on them in a cave? Second, these Scottish-sounding troll-like people, so strong and with abilities surpassing those of the above-ground men, really don't do much in the climax other than to transport Cairn back to his home.

I did rather like Cairn, whom I thought was believable and well-fleshed. His dialogue rang true as well, both "real" and logical. His father, though, spoke in over-dramatic terms common in the sword and sorcery books of 50 years ago.

A minor point is in the author's use of punctuation. While there were some minor mistakes, especially with quotation marks, his fascination with the dash was bothersome. Not only was it usually used incorrectly, a hyphen was used instead of a dash. I understand that this is a Kindle version of the book, so the typing was done on a normal keyboard, but when an actual dash is not available, two hyphens are used to make a dash. Luckily, as the book got into the second half, his use of the dash was significantly reduced. Punctuation should be invisible, helping the reader to understand the written word. When is stands out in and of itself, well, then it breaks the flow of the tale.

I would have loved to see this book as a straight scifi, focussing on water rights and conflicts arising from them. But that is more personal opinion than anything else. This novel should find a ready market from those who enjoy the scifi/sword and sorcery hybrids.

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