Joebin Vassiter seems like a typical resident of the planet Prothia. He is married to a beautiful woman and has a cozy house. Joebin makes a reasonable living as a miner. While he is hardly a poster child for excitement, consider that Joebin's society has no war and relatively little crime. Prothians have no army and very few weapons. Though Prothian society has little in the way of technology, it is possibly about as close to paradise as humans can get.
Unfortunately, without any military and with little in the way of weapons, Prothia appears to be a perfect target for slavers or anyone else looking for a small, out-of-the-way, planet. Also unfortunately, no one on the planet knows slavers and other planet conquering types are on their way to create havoc in Prothia's peaceful society. Fortunately, Joebin has been having dreams telling him that he is the Dreamlord. All Joebin needs to do to repel the slavers and other would-be planet conquerors is find the Dreamstone.
The heart of this book is a classic fantasy motif, the quest. In many ways, this book reads like a fantasy book. However, it is science fiction and anything that appears to be a fantasy the author is able to explain in terms of science as the book evolves; well, almost everything, but that is for a reader to discover.
The book follows the progress of assorted individuals approaching planet Prothia and those involved in the quest. While Joebin tries to find the Dreamstone the slavers approach Prothia. Once Joebin finds the Dreamstone and tries to learn how to use it, the slavers are rounding up the largely defenseless population. The book asks many questions and it appears that author Hendrickson has painted himself into a corner, more than once. Fear not, Hendrickson creatively works his way out of any apparent corner using devices every bit as creative as the devices used by Isaac Asimov, who frequently painted himself into corners and then just as creatively worked his way out of them.
As with many books having a quest, this one has some slow spots. However, author Hendrickson uses the slower spots to develop his characters and his story. Even so, Hendrickson could have eliminated some of the prose and the story might have been tighter.
The real question is whether the story is interesting. It is. Hendrickson throws in some entertaining and surprising curves along the way that I found interesting. Hendrickson kept close to standard quest elements, but added enough new elements to keep his readers focused on the story. I was unable to guess where this quest was going.
One thing puzzled me a little. I got an anti-war sense for much of this novel. It seemed like all was peace and love conquers all. Yet, this novel ends up being quite violent. Many people die, are maimed, and otherwise harmed in many ways. There are "nonviolent" resolutions that are quite violent. I guess one way to get revenge on a violent individual is to hurt them in a way that is continuous, painful and extended. Think torture raised to a new level. I leave it up to the reader to learn what I mean by this explanation. In my mind, death might have been better.
This book was interesting and entertaining. I enjoyed the characters and the story. The writing was clear and coherent and the story was easy to follow, which is marvelous given that Hendrickson switched points of view regularly. The inevitable slow points were used to purpose and made the exciting ending even more exciting. Hendrickson should write more books, because he has a talent for it.
My thanks to the author's representative for providing me with a review copy of this book.