Russell Proctor,
Days of Iron
(CreateSpace, 2011)

In the far distant future, there will come a time when mankind is split in to three species. There will still be Homo Sapiens, also known as "Sapes." They are the ones who used genetic engineering to create the other two species: the Sirians, who are a war-like people, and the Helots, who were created as slave labor. While the Sapes made sure they could not breed, they failed to make the Helots completely docile. So while there is a portion of the Sapes known as the Elites who appear to control all aspects of humanity throughout the stars, that is not entirely true.

Maddy Hawthorn is a Sape colonist whose life is torn apart when she is raped by a trio of Elites. She is later unwittingly involved in a Helot terrorist plot to attack the Sapes. Maddy is forced to join the terrorists' plans when authorities think she is part of it. Her only chance at life is to become the very terrorist they think she is. How far will she join them in their plans? How much will the violent event of her past impact her future actions? Will she ever overcome the emotional torment those Elites forced upon her?

Igil Hoo is a Helot who has chosen to be a slave no more. His leader has sent him on a quest that brings him in contact with Maddy. The terrorists need a Sape to help pull off a heist, and here is one who might be disgusted enough with her own species to help. Unfortunately for Igil, he is not as intelligent as he thinks. He is also a bit of a hot-head. However, he is loyal to his leader and will do what he feels he must in order to accomplish his objectives. Will Igil be able to get Maddy's cooperation to further the terrorist goals? What other tasks might his superiors put on his shoulders as his people work towards their freedom?

Lt. Dorac Landa Elsilunda is a proud member of the Sirian race. As an officer of the Space Navy, he has contempt for the Sapes whose orders he follows. Though his people may be manufactured, they are obviously superior to their makers. Still, as an individual who believes in honor and right, he will chase this Helot terrorist and the Sape that may or may not be involved. That is, until he falls in with them and starts working towards the very goals he initially worked to stop. Why would Dorac involve himself with the terrorists? What could he possibly hope to gain? How can he work with Igil when all he wants to do is kill the little bastard? Just who is using whom?

The author, Russell Proctor, is an Australian who resides in Brisbane and practiced law for almost a decade, has been a medical software trainer and has taught English, drama and legal studies.

Days of Iron is more than an adventuresome sci-fi novel. Instead of focusing on how people can overcome their racial differences, he shifts the focus to species differences. The end result is the same. We are better because of our differences, not in spite of them. Three people from various backgrounds come together to defeat the status quo. Not everyone is noble, but each has a redeeming quality of some sort.

The novel did not end quite the way I anticipated. It's nice to be surprised.

book review by
Wil Owen

24 March 2012

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