Review: The Widening Gyre by Michael R. Johnston

Editor’s Note: Our friend and colleague Frank Michaels Errington passed away on May 31. Frank was a voracious reader and prolific reviewer, and had filed several reviews with us before we lost him. His family has granted us permission to run those reviews, including the one below.

The Widening Gyre: The Remberance War Book 1 by Michael R. Johnston
Flame Tree Press (March 2019)
256 pages; $16.48 hardcover; $10.37 paperback; $6.29 e-book
Reviewed by Frank Michaels Errington

Warning: The Widening Gyre: The Remembrance War Book 1 is the beginning of a series. The good news is this is a complete story. Should you decide not to read future tales in said series, you can rest assured you’ve read a great yarn. But, I can’t imagine you not wanting to read the rest of the stories Michael R. Johnston has planned. The Widening Gyre is the best Space Opera I’ve read in years.

Recently, author Chuck Wendig has been encouraging his Twitter followers to read outside their genre.  I try to do this periodically. I don’t just read horror, although I read a lot of that. I also read crime, the occasional biography, and of course, science fiction, which was my first love some fifty plus years ago.

It’s nice to revisit those roots now and again and this book definitely took me back to the glory days of sci-fi.

What is it about? Well, I’m glad you asked. Here are some highlights from the official synopsis…

Eight hundred years ago, the Zhen Empire discovered a broken human colony ship drifting in the fringes of their space. With only a third of the original colonists left alive in their cryo-pods, and the ship’s computers damaged beyond repair, there was no way to know where the humans were from. The Zhen gave them a place to live and folded them into their Empire as a client state.

Humans are safe. But it hasn’t been easy. Not all Zhen were eager to welcome another species into their Empire, and humans have faced persecution.

When Tajen Hunt discovers his brother, Daav, has been killed by agents of the Empire, he, his niece, and their newly-hired crew set out to finish his brother’s quest: to find Earth, the legendary homeworld of humanity.

The Widening Gyre is a story well told. It has it all…drama, an epic mission, space battles, and a good deal of humor. What’s more, there’s an allegory for the way minorities are too often treated in the good old US of A. It left me wanting more and I can’t wait to see what is next for Tajen and his eclectic crew.

If you’re willing to read beyond horror, I can readily recommend The Widening Gyre.

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