Thursday , 4, January 2018 Leave a comment

Two thousand years ago, aliens destroyed Earth. Our fleets shattered. Billions died. The last humans fled a burning planet, heading to the stars.

Today we are still refugees. Hungry. Afraid. Our enemies hunt us everywhere.

So we hide. On distant asteroids. In rundown space stations. In deep caves on frozen worlds. And we dream.

*     *     *      *      *

With the Heirs of Earth, Daniel Arenson starts a heart-rending sequel series to his surprise hit Earthrise. The Diaspora from ruined Earth has not been kind to the human race. Without a home planet, they are treated not as refuges, but vermin that infest space stations and planets, protected by a ragtag set of “terrorists” known as the Heirs of Earth. But the ancient scorpion enemy that cracked their bones and their planet has designs on the galaxy once more–to dominate and inflict a final solution to the human problem. Now the demoralized Heirs of Earth are the thin line preserving humanity from pogrom and extinction.

This is a dark, brutal book that makes the grimdark universe of Warhammer 40,000 into a vacation resort. Every human character has watched friends, family, and children violently and bloodily ripped away and apart by scorpion raiding parties. The strain of survival and the trauma of death wear down the psyches of the Heirs of Earth. And those humans captured by aliens are rendered slowly into sport, meat, and decor. This could have easily devolved into farce like most attempts to create a dark, gritty, and grim story, but Arenson aims for tears instead of shock. Some of the descriptions outright hurt to read, but Heirs of Earth never devolves into the bleakness and despair, the nihilism of grimdark. Amid this darkness shines the light of hope.

For the Heirs of Earth discover Rowan Emery, the only survivor of a splinter faction, and the guardian of the Earthstone, the repository of the sum of human knowledge and accomplishment. That means Aristotle, Shakespeare, and da Vinci. It also means Lord of the Rings, Frozen, and the Hunger Games. Rowan’s fascination with 2000s American fan culture favorites does date the story, even today. But hidden within is the way back to Earth, the way home, and a reason to rally hunted humanity to their banners. This hope adds a dignity to the tooth-and-claw struggle that prevents The Heirs of Earth from falling into the easy traps of gimdark and endless brutality. For hope is a treasure and not a mere illusion to be dashed at every opportunity.

The Heirs of Earth is a moving struggle against extinction and despair, although dependent upon a reader’s tolerance of dark, bloody situations and 2000s geek culture. Since your mileage might vary, I recommend reading the sample first. But if this tale of darkness and hope strikes your fancy, sequels are on the way.

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