Book Review – Barsk: The Elephant’s Graveyard by Lawrence M. Schoen

Barsk: The Elephant’s Graveyard
by Lawrence M. Schoen
Courtesy of Tor Books
Release Date: December 29, 2015

barsk

Science fiction literature has many staples within the genre, but few concepts are considered “groundbreaking” these days. Seems like most everything has been done or written about already. I’m a sucker for good sci-fi in any form or fashion, but when a book can hold me in awe because of its scope and depth, I consider it a truly amazing feat. BARSK: THE ELEPHANT’S GRAVEYARD is one of these rare gems, a unique and original story that captivates as much as it enchants. Filled with exotic worlds, vibrant non-human characters, and an enthralling plot, this is one book you MUST read to fully grasp. I will go even further and state this is the first Must Read Book you should put on your list for 2016.

If you are not familiar with BARSK: THE ELEPHANT’S GRAVEYARD, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Tor Books:

The Sixth Sense meets Planet of the Apes in a moving science fiction novel set so far in the future, humanity is gone and forgotten in Lawrence M. Schoen’s Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard

An historian who speaks with the dead is ensnared by the past. A child who feels no pain and who should not exist sees the future. Between them are truths that will shake worlds.

In a distant future, no remnants of human beings remain, but their successors thrive throughout the galaxy. These are the offspring of humanity’s genius-animals uplifted into walking, talking, sentient beings. The Fant are one such species: anthropomorphic elephants ostracized by other races, and long ago exiled to the rainy ghetto world of Barsk. There, they develop medicines upon which all species now depend. The most coveted of these drugs is koph, which allows a small number of users to interact with the recently deceased and learn their secrets.

To break the Fant’s control of koph, an offworld shadow group attempts to force the Fant to surrender their knowledge. Jorl, a Fant Speaker with the dead, is compelled to question his deceased best friend, who years ago mysteriously committed suicide. In so doing, Jorl unearths a secret the powers that be would prefer to keep buried forever. Meanwhile, his dead friend’s son, a physically challenged young Fant named Pizlo, is driven by disturbing visions to take his first unsteady steps toward an uncertain future.

I loved everything about this novel, and I cannot wait to see what author Lawrence M. Schoen offers us next.

BARSK: THE ELEPHANT’S GRAVEYARD is written very well and flows at a smooth, pleasant pace. I like Schoen’s writing style, as it is simplistic and yet chocked full of artistry. His prose and dialogue both reflect an intelligent mind and a firm grasp of world-building.

The characters, although non-human, are fleshed-out well and rife with realism. I am impressed with how well Schoen imbues them with humanistic traits, while at the same time making them alien in several aspects. This human element makes them relatable to the reader, but the alien components make them intriguing.

The storyline in BARSK: THE ELEPHANT’S GRAVEYARD is a major win, and it is a huge part of what makes this book so entertaining. I can say with most certainty I have not run across anything like it before. I tip my hat to Schoen for creating such a rich and diverse universe in which to base his story. The author is a major talent, and his imagination is bursting with fresh and innovative ideas.

BARSK: THE ELEPHANT’S GRAVEYARD is an excellent read, and I highly recommend it. The book is an overflowing cup of captivating storytelling and unique concepts, and it is very difficult to put down. It is available now in a variety of formats, so make a note.

MSB

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