From the imagination of actor Lou Diamond Phillips (La Bamba, Prodigal Son) comes an epic and unforgettable Science Fiction Fantasy tale.
Two worlds at war will bring them together… or tear them apart…
Everson didn’t want to be a soldier. His parents forced him to serve, as all good Indiran men should. The only problem? His first battle against their mortal enemies goes horribly wrong and he winds up stranded on the enemy planet.
Now, Everson has to survive in this strange new land where everyone is out to get him. Not to mention, the planet Mano is covered in unforgiving desert. And he’s the target of traitors who want to use him in a dastardly plot to overthrow their mad king, Xander the Firm, by having him retrieve a piece of mysterious and powerful ancient technology known as the Tinderbox.
But everything changes during a chance encounter with the king’s daughter, Allegra. Despite her station, she’s in as grave of danger from her own people as Everson is. And though their peoples have been at odds for centuries, an unlikely spark forms between them.
As their worlds come crashing down around them, their forbidden love might be the only chance to end this war forever. Or, it might just be the doom of everyone…
Imagine the intrigue of Game of Thrones mixed with the star-crossed romance of Romeo and Juliet… but in space! Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s famous fairy tale of the same name, Soldier of Indira is perfect for fans of Dune, Aurora Rising, and Stardust.
Title: The Tinderbox: Soldier of Indira | Author: Lou Diamond Phillips | Publisher: Aethon Books | Pub Date: 20/10/2020 | Pages: 278 | ISBN13: 978-1949890532 | Genre: Young Adult/Sci Fi| Language: English | Source: NetGalley | Starred Review
The Tinderbox: Soldier of Indira starts with war, which is appropriate because the two neighboring planets of Mano and Indira have been at war for a long time. Mano and Indira were once one planet that split apart. When that happened, ships were used to save citizens. Those who remained on the surface burrowed underground for decades to survive. All of this background is relevant as the story progresses.
We soon learn the protagonist, Everson, isn’t just a soldier. He’s a prince, sent to war to learn some discipline.
We also learn the king of Mano is obsessed with a prophecy that hints at his ruin.
How could a young prince, stranded on an enemy planet, a prophecy, and a beautiful princess intersect? That’s what lies at the heart of the plot, but within the subtext, The Tinderbox: Soldier of Indira is saying a lot more, about a lot of issues.
Everson’s journey is really a journey of self discovery. Early on, he seems to be whipped about by the whims of fate, and he has the self-awareness to realize he’s stumbling or being pulled into situations, rather than taking charge of his life and making conscious choices. Just at the point where he realizes he should be considering his actions and decisions carefully, he starts to realize he may be destined to fulfill a prophecy.
The same prophecy Mano’s king is obsessed with.
Everson is relatable and feels real for his age. It also becomes clear that he was entitled and he needed to learn about responsibility. His experience opens his eyes to the suffering of people around him, and his self-examination causes him to center in on his values. Those values play a key role in the development of the plot.
The story itself has a lot of twists and turns, and despite a prophecy at work that is driving the narrative, it does not feel at all predictable. There are some interesting developments related to the division of the planets and the people who inhabited them. One of the obvious issues the author is tackling is racism and segregation. The Indirans are dark skinned. The people of Mano are fair. Racial segregation happened as a result of the splitting of the planets. Something else happened, though. The people who were left behind adapted to their environment. And once Mano was settled again, the people who remained became known as Leftists. Leftists are treated like an inferior group of people and do not enjoy the same rights and privileges as the other citizens. Tobias, who is a Leftist, educates Everson and helps shape Everson’s thinking and actions.
Ultimately, how we treat others and how we treat those who are perceived as lesser beings, are crucial aspects of this story. This book combines elements of sci fi with a quest structure, although Everson’s goal isn’t immediately clear to him. And although the relationship that’s destined moves swiftly, it feels earned under the circumstances.
I really appreciated the fact that Everson had a strong character arc, as well as a strong plot arc, and grew believably. This is a rich story that underscores the fact that people are stronger together than when divided by petty differences, that leadership is service, that our actions demonstrate our character, and that there are always those who are willing to do the right thing, even if it means taking big risks. These are the heroes we need right now. Not perfect and flawless, but humble, learning, growing heroes who hold on to their belief in doing what’s right.
Even if it means standing up to their parents and the established order.
4.5 stars out of 5.
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Eliza writes YA, horror, sci fi, fantasy and crime fiction. She also reviews for Sci-Fi and Scary. Stay up to date by following her on Twitter @ElJBrandt
Yay, I’m glad the book review went well, because I have always liked Lou Diamond Phillips as an actor.
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