Book Review: Defender of the Flame by Sylvia Engdahl

DOTF 196x300Title: Defender of the Flame
Author: Sylvia Engdahl
Genre: Science Fiction
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Defender of the Flame is about the first steps toward the next phase of human evolution — the development of so-called “paranormal” powers such as ESP. Starship pilot Terry Radnor’s life is transformed by the discovery that he possesses these powers, and that others are working to spread them throughout the worlds of humankind. But they face danger. Most people don’t want to know that such powers exist; they have a deep innate fear having to admit that their conception of reality is false. And some of those people will go to any lengths to suppress their emergence. Some will even resort to terrorism.

Terry vows to defend the world that is spearheading the spread of new human capabilties, a world where for the first time in his life he has found happiness. He has no idea of how far that aim will take him from everything else he cares about — his promising career as a Fleet officer, his wife and soulmate, his unborn child. Torn away against his will, he is forced into exile from all that has previously mattered to him, seeing no chance to fulfill the commitment he has made. Yet a mysterious and extraordinary destiny has been predicted for Terry, and fate leads him to an even stranger one than anybody could have imagined.

This is the first book in the Rising Flame series, to be followed soon by Herald of the Flame. It does not depend on having read the Hidden Flame series, which precedes it, since although set in the same world it is a separate story, complete in itself, that takes place 200 years later.

Terry Radnor, the hero of Defender of the Flame, has some rough times ahead of him. When he discovers he possesses so-called “paranormal” powers, such as ESP, his entire life is turned upside down. While some people would do whatever it takes to spread these powers through the different worlds of humankind, others would stop at nothing to keep humanity from finding out these powers exist.

As a starship pilot, Terry gets to play a large role, protecting the world that is leading the spread of these powers. Unfortunately trying to protect this world may lead him to lose just about anything else. But destiny has some strange things in store for the space pilot, stranger than he might have ever imagined.

This is my first book by Sylvia Engdahl, but I seriously hope it won’t be the last. She’s managed to craft a convincing, unique character with a complex personality, goals and emotions. Terry is not always equally enjoyable – he can be moody too, a little headstrong – but he’s definitely entertaining and intriguing. The world the author has crafted, with various worlds inhabited, with “paranormal” powers, is well-developed and complex, with a rich history and background. The book isn’t afraid to touch upon questions of science vs. the paranormal, intuition vs. loogic, and so on.

An interesting, captivating, fast-paced start to a brand new series.

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