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National News / Book Review

Wednesday, 17 December, 2008 11:25 PM

Book Review: 'Tarizon: The Liberator Vol. 1' is very clever and highly engaging

Photo credit: www.toppub.com

"Tarizon: The Liberator Vol. 1"

 

by Steve Anderson
thevideostoreguy@columnist.com

 

 

This is something of a new experience for me, folks--I'm actually bringing you a BOOK review today, if you can believe that. So for those of you who might have been accusing me of being the bellringer of a post-literate America, you can retract your claws because I'm getting LITERATE today.

And today I'm handling William Manchee's Tarizon: The Liberator, first in I don't know how many volumes, though the supplementary material sent along with the book suggests a trilogy. What Manchee brings us is the story of Peter, a boy out looking for his father when he's scooped up by aliens convinced that he's the living embodiment of a prophecy designed to save the poor downtrodden elements of planet Tarizon, a socialist paradise with some serious corruption working into the top ranks and well on its way to becoming a fascist dictatorship.

Peter, now assigned the unlikely name of Leek (apparently no one bothered to fill in the Tarizonians that "leek" is a vegetable on Earth, thus giving us the huge and probably unintentionally funny joke that everyone's counting on a vegetable to save the world), is out to liberate the normal, quasi-human Tarizonians, but also several lesser species, including mutated humans, the aquatic humanoid Seafolken who are somehow both bulletproof AND amphibious but have all the political aspirations of wet kelp, and the Nanomites, some kind of tiny animal / machine that exists only to make stuff and consume a chemical called bacuum.

Readers of the webcomic XKCD might well remember a graphic on the correlation between the number of made-up words a book features compared to its relative quality and get a shudder down their spines to read that last paragraph. Though in this case, that shudder will be somewhat premature as Tarizon: The Liberator is really not as bad as the bulk of made-up words contained therein would suggest.

Indeed, Tarizon: The Liberator is a blistering read (I really can't recall the last time I burned through three hundred pages in just a couple hours' time) and will keep the attention nicely. There's plenty of action to be had here and several nifty plot points, including the use of provoked downtrodden wildlife (the Tarizonian powers-that-be seem to care about as much for their flora and fauna as they do for their people) as a weapon. It's very clever, and highly engaging.

Though there are down points to the book--many of which can be readily chalked up to the fact that it's first of at least three--there's also plenty to like. Sure, Peter is knocking on the door of being a total Mary Sue (or Marty Stu if you want to be technical about it) because ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WORSE THAN A STUBBED TOE happens to him until the last few pages of the book, and most of the bad stuff that happens to him involves OTHER people being kidnapped, beaten, mistreated, abused, and messily killed. Even though people try to kill him repeatedly I don't recall him having so much as a stomach ache throughout the whole thing. Check that...he DID have a little bit of indigestion whilst sampling the native delicacies of Tarizon his first few days on planet. And he spent a lot of time being lonely and pining for various people, including the woman he met on planet and was, amazing, managing to have sex with within the first couple days of his arrival.

I'm hoping that by the end of the second book Peter loses a LEG or something because otherwise I'm going to want to be throwing things at him rather than hailing him as Liberator. It's a dark sign when I'm getting placards ready that read "Go (insert villain's name here)!"

Maybe I can write over my "Go Voldemort!" signs....

But anyway, I'm digressing here. My objections to the main character notwithstanding, the first volume of Tarizon: The Liberator is an excellent introduction to the world of Tarizon and serves to lay the extemely solid groundwork for what I hope will be a deeply involving and highly satisfying trilogy. Though there will be areas that need serious improvement--the main character Peter being almost all of them--getting a copy of Tarizon: The Liberator is a worthwhile move.

 

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