This Week, Victoria Helped Me Review. . .
The Secret Name
This is the second book in Sam M. Phillips’ Dead Sun Chronicles, in which the exploits of a troubled young man – Ryon Barker – are expounded in infinite detail. As well they should be, for as we remember, young Ryon, one of the refugees left over from the end of life on Earth, has been chosen to fulfill a special, very specific destiny. . .
Whether he wants that destiny or not.
direction and meaning on his journey through the cosmos, Ryon Barker must
commune with the demonic beings which prowl just beyond the scope of his
reality. But what do the eldritch gods of space want from him? And where are
they guiding his ship? As they continue to whisper in his ear, he descends into
madness, his whole life enslaved to the will of the Beast From Beyond. Fleeing
into drugs and sex, Ryon seeks to escape, but he’s only playing further into
the hands of the insidious cult which has infiltrated the ship.
Will he break free of their grasp and find a destination for their voyage? Or is the ship as lost as Ryon is himself?
Remember, Ryon is something of a pariah among his contemporaries. His mother is the ship’s captain; his father, the chief medical officer. And far from making the most of his privileges, he seems to go out of his way to squander them and alienate people. Just as well, then, that his mishap within the void engine room produced a side effect that opened a door in his mind through which another reality has revealed itself.
And that reality is more insidiously profound than he can possibly imagine, for it has been influencing his life’s course – and that of other crew members, it would seem – from the outset. To what ends, remains to be seen.
It’s not often that the second book in a series is a marked improvement on the opening volume. Yet – in my opinion – Sam Phillips has managed to do just that. A refreshing change from the norm, and a pleasant surprise for someone like me who reviews soooo many novels.
Ryon’s predicament becomes much more profound in The Secret Name; his interaction with other crew members more animated; and, as his understanding of what’s happening to him increases, his determination to take action grows stronger.
Yes, he still makes mistakes and ends up in a whole load of trouble as a consequence of not thinking things through properly. But now he’s a player, not a bystander. He’s starting to connect and make active decisions. And that makes for a much better story. I particularly liked the way Phillips manages to incorporate aspects of Through the Looking Glass and Eyes Wide Shut, with Outland. It makes for an engaging story that engages you very quickly and keeps you involved until the cliffhanger climax.
A cosmic game of chess is in play. But what will the next move be?