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The Candle of Distant Earth, by Alan Dean Foster Book Review | SFReader.com
The Candle of Distant Earth, by Alan Dean Foster Genre: Science Fiction Publisher: Del Rey Published: 2006 Review Posted: 9/21/2006 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated
The Candle of Distant Earth, by Alan Dean Foster
Book Review by Heather Hunt
Have you read this book?
I could give Alan Dean Foster's "The Candle of Distant Earth" a 5-star rating based on the quality of storytelling, setting, and characterization. The only factor that keeps me from the highest score is that this novel is the finale of Foster's Taken trilogy, and my enjoyment was lessened for not having read the first two: "Lost and Found" and "The Light-Years Beneath My Feet." Of course, I do plan to seek them out now, so you could argue that this factor merits "Candle" a top rating. But this is my review .
Protagonist Marcus Walker is on his way home from somewhere in space after having been kidnapped from Earth a few years ago. He travels with an assortment of aliens, some of whom were also kidnapped by the same baddies, the Vilenjji, and some who are helping him return to Earth.
His closest traveling companion is a fellow Earthling, a dog named George who was also abducted from our green planet in a separate incident from Marcus. The neat thing about George is that he can talk. Apparently the baddies imbued George with the intelligence of a human-and the vocal cords to enunciate in English. I'd love to hear how he picked the name George. Or did Marcus name him as a pet - before or after George learned to speak himself? I'll have to go back to the previous novels and check that out.
In the best tradition of movie loglines, I'd describe "The Candle of Distant Earth" as "'The Wizard of Oz' in space," with Walker, his alien companions, "and his little dog, too" each trying to get back to their home planets. Foster's mastery of science fiction and fantasy writing turns this travelogue into a catalogue of fascinating worlds and species.
The Tuuqualian, Braouk, with his hulking size, vertically oriented mouth, and eye stalks with pupils as large as pancakes that can peer in different directions at the same time, and the K'eremu, Sque, which is short for a much longer, punctuation-challenged and unpronounceable name, with his 10 tentacles and air sacs for vocal cords, are about as alien as you can get. And yet Foster gives them distinct characteristics in relationship with Marcus and George that make us feel like they're old friends.
Along with their alien benefactors, the Niyuuan, and the other friends they make along the way, including the Hyfft and their former enemies, the Iollth, Marcus unwittingly becomes the de facto leader of an impressive fleet of 13 exotic and what you might call, cross-universal spaceships.
It's a great ride across the galaxies and into the individual soul as their intergalactic travels change human and alien alike, bringing them closer in understanding and affection. Travel really does broaden the mind.
Other than feeling like I'm missing something for not having read the first two books, my only other quibble is that Marcus spends a bit too much time reflecting on how he's changed. His ruminations become repetitive by the end, and a few of them could have been cut with no loss of theme.
Nevertheless, they do all lead up to a surprise ending that this reader found believable though a bit disappointing in its execution. I can't say more or it won't be a surprise ending for you! I recommend "The Candle of Distant Earth" with the caveat that you'll probably enjoy it much more if you first read books one and two in the Taken trilogy.
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