Long ago, the gray-and-blue-skinned Malgovi race, fighting a losing interstellar battle with the savage BroSohnti, suddenly developed the “iro-form”—the astounding ability to manipulate energy and light, giving rise to talents ranging from telepathy to death rays. Malgovi gifted with iro defeated the BroSohnti but consequently became a cruel, arrogant upper class in their own society. Dungias, born into Malgovi nobility, has no iro-form but compensates with sharp wits, Iron Man–type technology and martial arts athleticism. However, he’s still a despised, bullied outcast, even after his strategies help his ungrateful, iro-gifted younger brother win a major iro competition. Banished for his daring, Dungias is taken in by Nugar, one of the Vinthur, a mystic people once closely allied to the Malgovi. Nugar believes that Dungias is the foretold “Star Chaser” who could restore honor, justice and harmony to the various sundered races. Barely keeping ahead of iro-equipped assassins sent by corrupt Malgovi and offended Vinthur, Dungias sweats out the Yoda-like Nugar’s deadly lessons in space-Zen, until he becomes a “Traveler” who can commune with godlike, transdimensional beings. As if this vast, intrigue-ridden universe were not enough, Reiter skillfully embeds a parallel, more opaque plotline about a timeless spirit of malice called Baron Nomed who’s reborn into the human race. He renews his rivalry with a blind immortal named Freund who isn’t above taking a few million lives as collateral damage. The two storylines merge near the denouement—one resolved, the other maddeningly sans closure, promising a hefty continuation of this formidable epic. Usually, when a writer weighs a sci-fi manuscript down with imaginary alien jargon, it can be smegging annoying. But Reiter’s long, sprawling, ambitious construct makes the steep learning curve worth the trouble. Baron Nomed’s name (“demon” backward) is the only groaner in a novel that’s otherwise rich in clever wordplay and verbal invention. (The chapter headings even quote a wide range of beings, from fictional alien sages to Sun Tzu to Tupac Shakur.) Overall, readers will find this an impressively convoluted, dimension-hopping, mixed martial arts mind-stretcher.
A venturesome sci-fi/fantasy novel for readers who really want their action set where no man has gone before.