Once again, I’m learning the difficulty of reviewing a book that’s part three of a trilogy without having read the previous two volumes. In the case of Meridian, this is especially true as, to mix some metaphors, S. H. Jucha hits the deck running by throwing readers into the deep end of the pool. So, for at least the first twenty pages or
so, readers are likely to flounder trying to understand the setting and characters. Who are the New Terrans and where is the planet they live on? Who are the Miridians and why don’t they get along with the Terrans? What are these Silver Ships everyone worries about? Who are all these people?
But if you stay the course, you’ll pick up clues as to what’s going on and find yourself transported to the future and meet a rich cast of principal and supporting characters. In particular, you’ll meet Admiral Alexander Racine, who was apparently once a ship pilot before he moved up the ranks. In Meridian, Alex is much larger than life. He’s wise, brave, compassionate, a visionary. He makes no missteps and makes bold moves based on his intuition. He can change, challenge, and create governments. He’s knowledgeable about politics, economics, diplomacy, and even terra forming. He commands well-earned loyalty far beyond his wide inner circle of various experts and friends. After all, his business is saving whole populations and rescuing a slave species.
As I went along, the descriptive details and layered circumstances reminded me very much of the novels of Jack McDevitt and Kristine Kathryn Rush. That’s due, in part, to the inter-galactic settings and the complexities of Racine’s various quests. After the first two parts of the novel, in which Racine and company take on the governments of two worlds and unlock the secrets of the Silver Ships, I feared I was wandering into the longest denouement I’ve ever read. I was wrong. Jucha had much more for his hero to accomplish, mainly creating a new hybrid civilization on yet another planet.
Clearly, the readers who’ll be happiest are Jucha fans who read the two earlier Silver Ship outings. New readers like me will find entry into this strange new universe challenging at first but can find the flow with some perseverance.
I admit liking the positive tone and the idea the future doesn’t have to be filled with the distopias so many other authors offer describing humanity largely violent and power hungry. That’s not who Alex Racine is nor are the multi-species relationships he builds. These are worlds and characters you’ll be glad you spent time with.
Wes Britton’s review was written for BookPleasures.com
Author, The Beta-Earth Chronicles