One of the first things I noticed about Sarah Zettel’s debut novel Reclamation was how it was written: exciting action, great science fiction, outstanding prose. The next thing I noticed was her inspiration from Frank Herbert, whom she emulated by writing a few lines of lore from her universe at the beginning of each chapter. But with all this going for her, why did I not know what was happening throughout most of the book? I kept thinking that Reclamation was the follow-up to a previous novel. It felt as if I was missing a significant portion of the back story.
Zettel created a wonderful universe with many amazing beings and worlds but without introductions, explanations or definitions of its plethora of aspects, the reader must piece together the plot alone and is not always successful.
The second half is a more enjoyable read but mainly because by that time, the chain of events makes a little more sense.
Zettel leaves gaps which confuse the plot lines even more. For example: Why was Kiv and some of his offspring killed? Who were the two Vitae with the children? Who are the Aunorante Sangh? For this last question, many of the characters accused each other of being a part of this group but their identity was never disclosed.
I did find the characters in her story to be fascinating. Eric Born, the main character, is a power-gifted human with telekinesis. Although the story alludes to other such beings, very few actually appear in the story. One other is a woman named Arlas, who is among the lowest class of humans, the Notouch. Together they wage a resistance war against the Vitae, who have proclaimed themselves masters of the Quarter Galaxy.
Reclamation moves a long at a great clip and there is no shortage of action and adventure. Perhaps a second read of the novel is warranted since I know who the characters are now, especially since there are so many, the plot takes a back seat to them.