Enervation is the third book in the Shadeward fantasy/science fiction adventure series by Drew Wagar. I read the first two in the series, Emanation and Exoneration way back in 2017, but many factors in my life and that of the writer combined to stop me reading Enervation until now. I’m now starting to read the concluding story, Expiation, driven by the desire to know how all the many threads are wound-up.
The novels are set on a world tidally bound to a dwarf red star, with all the issues and problems such an environment creates. I won’t synopsise the story here; the blurb does that very well.
The story, however, continues through the viewpoints and actions of some familiar characters and some new ones. One feature of Drew’s writing is his ability to empathise with his characters in a manner that helps the reader do likewise, something I always look for in any work of fiction. I don’t know how you feel as a reader, but I really can’t get involved in a story if I’m unable to empathise with at least one character. I need to feel connected, to care what happens to them. And it isn’t always reliant on the morals of the character, more on understanding why they behave in the manner that forms their personality and guides their behaviour. That need was readily fulfilled by the author in this series, and continued in the current book.
The continuing theme of how religious myth and legend can, and does, distort truth and honesty to serve its own purpose remains at the heart of the story. That destructive power of a belief in something for which no evidence exists is manifest here in the mind-power of the protagonists, used largely as a control mechanism to conquer and subdue. But becoming, in our leading female protagonist, a power she can use for the good of the general population. And it is the conflict that inevitably builds between the ‘good’ priestess and the ‘bad’ with her sycophantic supporters that drives the story. It’s difficult not to find comparisons with the likes of the vile ISIS and Taliban cults, and the appalling abusers of the Bible Belt in the USA with their overriding desire for power allowed to distort the many truths that could be found in their legends.
Along the way, we encounter beasts in service to the mind controllers, servants, slaves, victims, and the kings and rulers of lands subdued or threatened by the power of these gifted beings driven by their own interpretation of a myth resulting from misunderstandings of realities occurring many hundreds of years before the protagonists were born.
There is a wonderful harmony to be found in the author’s ability to have the heroes and heroines discover machinery and evidence of their real roots, and, along with these finds, the real cause of one of the major planetary problems. This is a threat so enormous and vital that it could wipe out the entire population, yet many incidents block their ability to deal with this issue. Again, one is forced to compare this situation with our current climate emergency on Earth, where vested interest, misinformation, superstitions, and ignorance threaten the very existence of our species, and many others.
Drew Wagar has created an exciting adventure here, with engaging characters and a storyline guaranteed to have the reader turning the pages eager to find out what happens next. I look forward to reading the concluding book!
[Any review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can manage is an honest reaction to any given book.]