In the 23rd century, the disgraced captain of a Star Trek-esque research spaceship encounters a wormhole and recovers an alien being in cryosleep. But that’s just the beginning of the story. PIERCING THE CELESTIAL OCEAN is a many-voices narrative exploring M’aremundi, a waterworld of archipelagos with a blue sun and an ocean for a sky.
M’aremundi is ruled by the Grand Conclave, a powerful theocracy, whose religion is loosely defined, but based in the mythos of the Celestial Ocean, its rhythms, and its mysterious Heavenly Visitors. The Conclave will let nothing—including scientific inquiry into the heavens—interfere with their control. One night, a scientist and her apprentice observe something unusual in the Celestial Ocean, something that could change the world. Fearing heretical persecution, the apprentice T’reau flees on his master’s orders and finishes their work alone on a forbidden island far from the Conclave’s reach. Their story fades into legend. Jumping decades ahead in the timeline, we meet A’zra and her partner and co-captain, Victoria, of the Vagus. They and their crew are given permission to explore the newly open Forbidden Islands of the reclusive, primitive K’han people. When they discover T’reau’s island and all his research on the Celestial Ocean and Heavenly Visitors, A’zra needs to know more. But not is all as it seems. Swiftly switching between key players, author Kip Koelsch’s narrative moves along at a fast clip, thanks to the adrenaline of spycraft, political intrigue, and scheming double agents. For, both powers in A’zra’s homeland of P’nesia and K’han are hiding secrets and maneuvering to advance their nations. The former seeks to maintain the status quo, the latter aims to upend the religious order. Between them, one intrepid explorer will venture into the unknown.
PIERCING THE CELESTIAL OCEAN is a well-edited, well-paced first installment in the Saga of the Cerulean Universe. With fleshed out characters and original worldbuilding, the novel plays into classic themes of exploration and discovery nicely, while putting a unique twist on the waterworld environment. It will leave readers excited for more.
An ensemble cast plus inventive worldbuilding makes Kip Koelsch’s PIERCING THE CELESTIAL OCEAN an engaging, memorable start to a sweeping space epic of the struggle between religion and science, ambition and the collective good.
~Remy Poore for IndieReader