THE SPLINTER’S SIEGE by E. F. Skarda features a palpable Renaissance-type era existence with cobblestone streets and peasants hawking rancid meat while at the same time street thugs carry garrison-issue electrified boomstick tasers in this pleasurable novel where Olde Worlde meets Paranormal Space Age. Intriguing characters from Volume 1 of Skarda’s science fiction series The Infinity Chronicles return in Volume 2, including the special-powered mutant hero Kyle Griffin– grandson of the once much feared Lord Gentry, Aeron — along with Dr. Preston, his daughter Angel, and the delightfully-awful arch nemesis, Vaughn Donovan. Magic also reappears, including serosa chloride bullets and talismans such as The Eye, with its ability to intensify the senses, convey immortality, and mute sensation so that no touch is ever too painful.
THE SPLINTER’S SIEGE opens with Lieutenant Dan Preston who has perhaps seen too much, done too much, survived too much…and is now maybe drinking too much whiskey in response. At least he made it safely back home to the Aranow moon, though a cauterized wound on his hip means Dan’s body will never be or move quite the same. However that wound isn’t nearly as agonizing as the knowledge that at the most recent battle’s conclusion, he had not be able to stop Aeron from plunging a sword into Commander Kyle’s heart. Kyle Griffin has yet to regain consciousness and Dan now longs to avenge these events, but all off-world missions have been indefinitely suspended. So he drinks. And hooks up with nameless women.
The set-up for the second installment to the series starts off well. The character conflicts are easy to get immersed in, whether one has previously read Volume 1 or not. Soon however, the plot becomes a bit convoluted, and unfortunately this follow-up in the series is even more brutal than its already excessively violent (for some) predecessor. Dan’s frustration regarding inactivity due to the following of strict protocol is understandable in the face of certainty that the Gentry is dead, as he saw that happen with his own eyes, but really the story is most absorbing and relatable when it explores what people in the colony (other than soldiers) are thinking and doing and least engaging when detailing nonstop aggressive battle scenes.
THE SPLINTER’S SIEGE is a pleasurable novel for fans of E. F. Skarda’s science fiction series The Infinity Chronicles and will likely leave readers eagerly anticipating book three.
~C.S. Holmes for IndieReader