Monday, June 20, 2011

The Parafaith War - L.E. Modesitt

The Parafaith War
L.E. Modesitt
Tor Books
Copyright: 1996

The jacket blurb:
Some bad ideas go back a long way and this one goes all the way back to the original home planet: Someone's god told them they had a right to more territory--so they figure they can take what they want by divine right. In the far future among the colonized worlds of the galaxy there's a war going on between the majority of civilized worlds and a colonial theocracy.

Trystin Desoll grows up fighting against religious fanatics and becomes a hero, a first-class pilot, then, amazingly, a spy. What do you do if you're a relatively humane soldier fighting millions of suicidal volunteers on the other side who know that they are utterly right and you are utterly wrong, with no middle ground? Trystin Desoll has an idea. 
 L.E. Modesitt's science fiction is always thought-provoking at the same time as being exciting to read. The Parafaith War is no exception to this. But, there's always something more to the story than just the technology and the conflict: there's the reasons behind the conflict too - in this case a lot of it is religiously motivated. But the characters aren't just blind about it - they also try to understand what makes the opposing side think and believe what they do.

Normally I don't put much stock in the cover quotes of a book, but the two on this title are ones I'm going to quote. First, there's the Washington Times quote from the back cover:
"Mr. Modesitt's novel is a thoughtful commentary on the comparative influences of science and religion in the human story."
That's exactly what the book is, as well as being incredibly exciting. By the last handful of chapters, I couldn't put the book down at all last night. But, it's also the way Modesitt keeps asking questions with the characters, and adding that extra dimension to the stories that makes me come back to his books again and again. The Parafaith War isn't the only science fiction book of his that I've reviewed here, there's also Gravity Dreams and Adiamante.

The other quote, from the front cover of the book, and from Kirkus Reviews, is:
Echoes of both Joe Haldeman's The Forever War and Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers: dense, gritty, strong on technical details.
As far as I'm concerned, this is another great recommendation to pick up the book as I loved reading Starship Troopers, and I've heard good things about The Forever War, although I have yet to read it.

L.E. Modesitt dropped me right into the story at the beginning complete with the dust and the problematical atmosphere, as he described things very vividly and then kept it up for the next four hundred and seventy pages or so. Characters, places, grand things such as the canyons and right down to the little things, all of them came together to help make the world. Even the aliens, which add another layer of mystery, right down to the final pages of the book, when things become clearer.

Personally, I find this to be a top-notch novel effort and one that's worth reading, without being dated at all well over a decade after it was first written. Well done, Mr. Modesitt!

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