Series: StarQuest 1
Reviewed date: 2017 Dec 19
Star Wars with Jesus.
The evil Dominion rules the galaxy. Its cruel leader Kurdon enforces his iron will through a cadre of elite Doomen, soldiers who possess psychic powers to read minds and communicate telepathically among themselves. A space fleet capable of destroying planets helps, too.
Space pirate and smuggler Lam Laeo tries to keep a low profile, but when the Doomen catch up with him on the planet Saan, fate or something else (it's something else!) brings him together with Padeus, the exiled king of the planet Tsu. Padeus rescues Lam from the Doomen, then takes him to the secret hideout of the Tsuian resistance-in-exile. Padeus has been gone from Tsu for fifteen years, but with help from Lam and his smuggling spaceship (lots of secret compartments for illicit cargo!) Padeus returns to Tsu with a small armory.
On Tsu, Padeus makes contact with the local resistance, which has just about given up hope. First, though, there's a sequence where Lam and Padeus ride through the forest on skips, which is totally different from riding speeder bikes on the forest moon of Endor. Totally different.
With the king's return, they march through the streets and the people flock to join them. Loyalists retake the palace while Lam and the resistance use their small space fleet to intercept and destroy the Dominion space force. King Padeus pardons everybody except the collaborator, Governor Cathra, for whom he pronounces a death sentence--a sentence he prophesies will be carried out to the Dominion. Indeed, when the Dominion forces later return in greater numbers, the Doomen gun Cathra down without mercy.
"If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."
Their first victory against the Dominion is the result of surprise, and Padeus knows that Kurdon will strike back with overwhelming force. Padeus orders the evacuation of Tsu. Lam offers to take the Tsuians to a hidden sanctuary planet often used by space pirates who are looking to lay low and evade the Dominion. Padeus stays behind on Tsu as a diversion. When Kurdon and the Dominion fleet arrive in force, they sense Padeus's presence on the planet. Kurdon uses his glowing red rod (totally NOT a lightsaber) to strike Padeus down and kill him. That buys the evacuation fleet just enough time to escape through the light gate.
On the refuge planet, Lam and Maxai get kidnapped by furry bipedal jungle natives with stone-age technology (totally NOT Ewoks). The not-Ewoks string up our heroes and are about to kill them as an offering to the gods, when some other furry bipedal natives (cloven hooves and heads like deer--I'm imagining Mr. Tumnus) arrive with a wagon-full of glowing rocks and scare away the not-Ewoks. The Le-in, as they're called, rescue our heroes and become friends with the Tsuians.
The Le-in's glowing rocks are monobarite stones, or m-stones for short. The planet has huge deposits of them. Lam and the Tsuians study the m-stones and discover that the stones amplify any sort of energy applied to them. Fitted to their spaceships in place of redlyn rods, the m-stones provide incredible acceleration, firepower, and even a glowing blue energy shield. It's an awesome secret weapon. Cool.
Lam is learning about more important things than m-stones, though. Lam has never been a spiritual man, but the Tsuians worship a god called the Source and the Power. Lam's experiences since meeting Padeus make him wonder if there is something to this, if the Source and the Power are real. Certainly he can't explain recent events in any other way.
And it turns out the Le-in also worship the Source and the Power. But their theology goes on step further: instead of a god in two persons, they worship a trinity: the Source, the Power, and the Friend. Lam cries out to god for help, and God gives him a vision: the Friend appears to him, speaks to him, reveals Himself. Lam believes.
The Tsuians are unsure about the Friend at first. Apparently, before the coming of the Dominion, Tsu was a paradise, an unfallen world without sin, without death. They worshiped only the Source and the Power because they had as yet no need for the Friend. Now, with the introduction of sin to Tsu, their connection to the Source and the Power has been weakened, dimmed. All the Tsuians feel the loss. And there, on the refuge planet, the Friend reveals himself to each Tsuian in a vision, a vision showing the Friend sacrificing himself for his people. The Tsuians rejoice at this new revelation, and accept the Friend as god along with the Source and the Power.
But there is still Kurdon and his Dominion. He finally tracks them down and arrives at the sanctuary world with his fleet. Lam and the Tsuian fighters, amped up on m-stones, put up stiff resistance. Even so, they are losing until sabotage on board the Dominion carrier turns the tide of battle. Kurdon turns tail and escapes through the light gate, but Lam and the Tsuians follow.
"Let the hate flow through you"
There is a showdown. Lam ends up fighting Kurdon in single combat at the foot of Kurdon's throne--Lam and his glowing blue m-stone enhanced cane vs. Kurdon and his glowing red rod. (Totally not blue lightsaber vs. red lightsaber. Totally not.) Lam is about to lose, but Kurdon accidentally smashes his own throne, breaking it and releasing the evil power contained within. (It's Satan, I think.) At that very moment, all Doomen everywhere cease to function. They were reanimated corpses all along, controlled by the satanic power that Kurdon served.
Also, there was a weird love interest: Lam was interested in King Padeus's niece, but she shot him down by explaining that she was unimaginably older than he. Tsuians live basically forever, you know.
I know I'm making fun of some similities to Star Wars, but I really did like the book. It's not a Star Wars knockoff at all. Evil galactic empires are hardly unique to Star Wars, and neither are planets inhabited by furry natives.
I enjoyed the book when I read it in junior high. I enjoyed it now.