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Review: Calarni – Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus

Calarni - Berryll & Osiris Brackhaus

Genre: Sci-Fi

Reviewer: Ulysses, Paranormal Romance Guild

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About The Book

Exploring a newly discovered system shouldn’t have taken Yaden and Ivan more than a few days. But suddenly, they find themselves stranded in a faraway galaxy, way outside the reach of even the strongest guild psions.

Their only chance of ever finding a way back home is to make allies among the truly alien locals, and find a way to deal with the powers-that-be: the brutally isolationist Calarni. Their crystalline technology is superior to anything the Empire has ever seen, and might just be the missing link to the original builders of the mandalas…

Written by award-winning authors Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus, ‘Calarni’ is a riveting space opera adventure and the sixth book and mid-season-spectacular of the ‘Sir Yaden’ series.

Warnings: Angst, Non-Con, Side Character Death

The Review

After I finished this, the latest and most spectacular of the Sir Yaden series, I wiped my eyes, and opened up my copy of the first of these books: The Demon of Hagermarsh. I wanted to remind myself of Sir Yaden Quetzal’s beginning—how Darios was a slave, given to him when he was twelve. I wanted to remind myself of the little boy with immense powers, who could tame volcanos and quell violent storms; who was loved enough by his Quetzal duke and duchess parents to make sure he was cared for. I wanted to re-read his first adventure as a Lotus Knight, his undercover trip to the grim and unfriendly planet Leichnam, where he would meet Colin, the gentle baker who would become the love of his life. 

The Brackhauses have managed to build the gorgeous, complex, layered universe in which I got to know Yaden Quetzal so well. Whenever I open one of these books—any of the books set in the Virasana Empire—I can step into that world like putting on a cozy sweater, no matter how long I’ve waited between books in the series.  

In this epic story, Yaden and Ivan are off on an interesting, but not especially dangerous mission to investigate a newly-discovered star system. Their role is both investigative and diplomatic. Using one of the vast, mysterious crystalline mandalas that allow interstellar space travel—but whose origin nobody understands—our Knight and his Squire fly the spaceship Pebble close to a planet no-one has ever seen before. And then something bizarre happens—which, we are told more than once, is what Lotus Knights expect when they’re on missions. 

This adventure opens up a world as unimaginable to Ivan and Yaden as it is to the reader. Our young men encounter a touchstone to the ancient past of the universe that is both enthralling and terrifying. They discover things and creatures beyond their experience, and do exactly what they’re supposed to do: they adapt, they learn, they develop their skills, and they make friends. 

I can’t spoil any of the fun in this book, and I can’t prepare you for the emotional twists and turns the narrative takes. This is the story in which Ivan becomes more than just Yaden’s sidekick and in which his loyalty and love for his Knight is tested in the extreme. As for Yaden, he becomes greater than he ever could have dreamed, but he also risks losing his humanity in the perfection of his psionic powers. 

Of course, the entire narrative is laced with cozy slang and gentle humor, because we all like these people and care about them. They feel like friends. We see Yaden and Ivan from the perspective of various alien races, and begin to understand them beyond their familiar presence in our own imaginations. 

Very deftly, the authors keep the reader rooted in the Virasana universe, keeping us in touch with Yaden’s family back on their home planet. Darios, still his faithful guardian; Colin, now a noble-by-marriage and Yaden’s beloved husband; and Meriam, burgeoning psion and cranky teenager, their adopted daughter. The Brackhauses never let us lose sight of the ultimate goal, and never let us forget that our boys are indeed superheroes, even if they don’t quite understand it themselves. 

Throughout this long book, the visuals are gorgeously cinematic, and I can only imagine what this would look like as a film. The physical descriptions of everything are terribly important in bringing to life this vividly imagined universe, and making it both palpable and accessible. 

Another triumph. Whatever will they do next? 

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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