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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Stefan Bolz's The Fourth Sage Makes Us Ask "Why"

Is it science fiction? 

Or maybe fantasy? 

Perhaps it's a blend of both? 

Nope. Definitely sci-fi. Though it did seem like a genre blend for quite some time. After all, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Ok, ok... that Arthur C. Clarke statement doesn't quite fit, but it's one of my favorites, so I'm using it anyway.

Why doesn't it fit? What in the world am I going on about now? Well... just keep reading!

image via http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-uSUCBBM4X-Y/U5uIpLK41NI/AAAAAAAAAbw/gazhWKbR3gY/s1600/Bolz_FOURTH_SAGE_AudioEdition.jpg
Cover design by Jason Gurley, who happens to be an author, as well!
The Fourth Sage is the first installment of the sci-fi Circularity Saga, written by Stefan Bolz, who, by the way, has a spectacular author page. So be sure to click on the link in that last sentence!

So what's it about?

In a world where every move a person makes is watched, every word is guarded, and every independent action is punished, Aries Egan is an anomaly. She has discovered how to steal one hour of freedom every night, evading the cameras that lurk everywhere.

But freedom comes with a price, and one mistake can mean re-education and pain, as Aries discovers. Forced to flee, knowing that her life as she knows it is gone, she finds herself on a quest to topple the Corporation and bring freedom to others, as well.

And did I mention that one of the main characters is a hawk?

That's right. A hawk. Bolz breaks free of the standard definition of sci-fi, giving personality and complex communication skills to a bird. An awesome bird, of course, but still a bird.

You see why I thought he blended genres with this ebook?

Turns out, there's a valid reason for this communication. It has nothing to do with technology, but rather with genetics. Still, he placed it in the realm of science, rather than magic.

So... dystopian sci-fi it is!

The environment Bolz created was absolutely stifling. This was a vast city in which the inhabitants have no free choice. There is the semblance of choice, but nothing more. People are reasonably content with that, though, because that's all they've really ever known.

Cameras are everywhere: hallways, bedrooms, common areas... everywhere. The Corporation is watching at all times. Anything construed as veering from the norm, even the smallest gesture, is flagged.

A red flag action is cause for immediate removal and imprisonment. Or death.

People are told the truth that the Corporation wants them to believe. If the Corporation says something is true, it is. Period. The Corporation's word is not to be questioned. Everything the corporation does is done for you.

Well, Aries does question it. And she suffers because of that.

But she's also set free, in a sense. Questioning the Corporation brings her one step closer to true knowledge. She constantly asks that one question that is always needed:


She becomes a leader. Others who have the ability to question what's around them recognize this, and soon she meets a ragtag group of gifted children who have the ability to help her fight the corporation.

The philosophies and creativity this ebook was filled with were absolutely amazing, and the situations were intense. There wasn't a single break for Aries, who was met with adversity at every turn.

And the technology?

Riveting. I could clearly see each drone, each android. The strange flow of electricity was beautiful. The strange readings on Aries' tablet as she sought answers to electrical problems? Fascinating.

There were a few things that didn't quite feel right to me, however.

I felt an emotional disconnect at a couple of points in which I should have felt like my heart was being crushed. Some of the characters' reactions to events didn't feel true. Rather, they felt controlled, reined in. This jarred me from the story on occasion.

But this wasn't common.

In fact, I felt a connection to a few of the characters, and when one of them appeared lost, it upset me. I love when I have those horrid feelings, as contradictory as that sounds!

So this ebook is definitely worth reading. Heck, it even has a well thought out (and rather cool) book trailer!

Awesome, right?

The Fourth Sage can only be found on Kindle.

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