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REVIEW: The Shang Zhou Shuffle – Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus

The Shang Zhou Shuffle - Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus

Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera, Adventure, Action

Reviewer: Ulysses, Paranormal Romance Guild

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About The Book

The Emperor cares for each and every one of his subjects, be they bartender or prince.

Prince Ishikawa of Shang Zhou has embarked on a risky undercover adventure all on his own, and Yaden and Ivan are sent after him to make sure he comes out alive. 

Working as the crew of a local pub, the three of them try to figure out why the local military is training Vox Populi terrorists. But this is a Lotus Knight mission, and when Ivan’s sister finally decides to ‘rescue’ her brother, things escalate rapidly… 

Written by award-winning authors Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus, ‘The Shang Zhou Shuffle’ is a colourful space opera adventure and the fifth book of the ‘Sir Yaden’ series.

The Review

Although each of the Sir Yaden books encompasses its own unique adventure, it is the larger depiction of the various cultures of the Virasana Empire that binds all of the books together. This is even true of the books that don’t involve Yaden Quetzel, son of the Duchess of the planet Erys and Lotus Knight to the Emperor. Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus have created a unique fantasy that merges sci-fi, paranormal powers, and pop culture in a manner both startling and utterly engaging. The books are filled with wonderful relationships and sly humor.

I have loved every one of these books, just like the Emperor cares about every one of his billions of subjects. This includes the non-Yaden books, because they’re all fascinating, amusing, and extremely clever in their plotting and their prose. 

In this book, Yaden’s happy domestic life is interrupted (as it is regularly) for a mission that he and his Squire, Ivan Quetzal (it’s a huge complicated family—the Emperor is also a Quetzal) need to undertake on the planet of Shang Zhou. We are reminded that all of the people in the Virasana Empire originated on Earth, which is why the range of Earth’s ethnicities exist in various places in the empire.

Shang Zhou, as you might expect, seems to be a combination of Chinese and Japanese earthlings, although all of the planets are ethnically mixed. The ruling family on Shang Zhou is the House Kyothari, and their crown prince Ishikawa has apparently gone undercover in the capital city of Bao-Ji. The Emperor is concerned about the prince’s vulnerability due to the increase in terrorist attacks by a group known as the Vox Populi (a wonderfully ironic name). Yaden and Ivan are meant to go undercover and act as chaperones to keep the prince safe.

Things become more complicated right away, although Yaden and Ivan don’t know it. The authors introduce a series of “intermissions,” in which the reader learns about a nefarious plot (what else?). The surprise is that there is a mysterious player involved in this plot, adding yet another complication. The Brackhauses ratchet up the tension by piling on these unanticipated wrinkles—and by doing it with precision and logic. 

By the finale of the story, a dark possibility has been presented to us—one that only we as the reader know. We understand that we have been given a chilling glimpse of future novels, pretty much guaranteeing that we’ll be waiting with bated breath for each one. 

Well played, Mr. and Mrs. Brackhaus. 

I’ll only add here that yet a different kind of plot wrinkle appears with Yaden’s husband, the ennobled baker from the very first book, Colin. Colin’s role in this book is intriguing, and also something that clearly foreshadows a potential for the plots of future books. 

This book went by far too fast, and I fear the wait for the next installment will try my patience sorely. 

The Reviewer

Ulysses Grant Dietz grew up in Syracuse, New York, where his Leave It to Beaver life was enlivened by his fascination with vampires, from Bela Lugosi to Barnabas Collins. He studied French at Yale, and was trained to be a museum curator at the University of Delaware. A curator since 1980, Ulysses has never stopped writing fiction for the sheer pleasure of it. He created the character of Desmond Beckwith in 1988 as his personal response to Anne Rice’s landmark novels. Alyson Books released his first novel, Desmond, in 1998. Vampire in Suburbia, the sequel to Desmond, is his second novel.

Ulysses lives in suburban New Jersey with his husband of over 41 years and their two almost-grown children.

By the way, the name Ulysses was not his parents’ idea of a joke: he is a great-great grandson of Ulysses S. Grant, and his mother was the President’s last living great-grandchild. Every year on April 27 he gives a speech at Grant’s Tomb in New York City. 

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