Friday, February 19, 2016

The Chaplain’s War by Brad Torgersen

The Chaplain’s War is a great science fiction novel. I found myself pleasantly surprised at the depth of the characters, the tight plotting, and action-packed pacing. The best science fiction stories include social themes and plot devices that readers find relevant to their own worldview. Brad Torgersen tackles this idea head-on with a story about a chaplain’s assistant who is essentially without faith. How he became the chaplain’s assistant, and how that effects not only his future, but that of all humans and the insect-like mantis, is the heart of the tale. Building his story around a framework of traditional Space Opera adds to the allure. There are galactic battles and, literally, bug-eyed aliens, and the ending is protracted but necessary. In fact, this book works so well because Torgersen clearly has an emotional investment in his characters, and he takes the time to allow them their own room to develop. Harrison Barlow is intriguing, and perhaps not too unlike most of us when it comes to matters of religion. Beneath the primary plot we have a subtext involving our human inability to understand or appreciate differing religious viewpoints, and that subtext is vital to this book. Wisely, Torgersen chooses to allow these ideas to build naturally, and he never slaps his readers in the face with his themes. As I mentioned, there’s plenty of military Space Opera and action to keep you on the edge of your seat. This was an immensely enjoyable paperback that I looked forward to over the span of a few days as I flipped the pages.

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