A Beacon of Hope by Walter E Mark (The Sixth World of Men: Book 1)

On the surface, the sixth world of men is a glorious world. It is a world of great technological advancement. It is a world that has been at peace for a hundred years. While the world known as Kosundo by its inhabitants goes about its usual business, an ancient prophesy ominously predicts that the time of the soulless has come.

This is Walter E Mark’s first novel in an estimated decology, which will see Paths of Intimate Contention, and The Beginning of Sorrows published in the next year. A Beacon of Hope is set on the planet of Kosundo. A planet not too dissimilar to Earth and in many ways imitates life, religion and culture here too. It is a world, which will feel familiar and alien at the same time. At first we are introduced to the idea of an ancient prophecy, which will either lead to damnation or salvation for the people of Kosundo. It is the choice which they must make, which will ultimately choose their fate.

This is a book with an easy and understated style to it. It has an unusual feel and yet the style seems to work in driving this modern day parable forward. I believe this is the author’s intention and Mark is exploring a similar path with this tale, which we as a race are following.

It’s style is simple and you are able to fully immerse yourself and visualise this world. The science is not too hard to grasp and I would liken the experience of reading this to watching Star Wars and Babylon 5, where everything is laid out for you and you go along for the adventure. That is not to say it is action packed but that it is easy to follow and does not require a lot of thought and work to appreciate it’s gentle tone and underlying message.

It starts off slowly as we are introduced to this world, but after a hundred pages or so the story takes hold. We are then introduced to an Emperor, spies, intrigue, the icy land of Dricho, underwater cities, genetic monsters and a touch of romance along the way. It is at this point that the book starts to drive forward the story and sets the scene for subsequent novels as we explore the nature of consequence and choice.

The technology is also easy to comprehend and I liked some of the concepts, notably the Chomile, although this was perhaps explored for too long. I also quite liked the way that words were substituted for others in the world of Kosundo. For example, the word spen used to indicate a minute.

All in all this is good debut novel with a gentle and unassuming approach, which works well for this modern day parable. It is the beginning of an interesting journey and one I will be undertaking. I am also interested in further exploring this world’s adventures and the nature of how choice affects all future events. I am looking forward to watching Walter E Mark develop as a writer. I think once you get used to the style, you will appreciate the simple act of just reading this book and letting the author do the work for you as he paints his canvass.

9/10 It's style is simple and you are able to fully immerse yourself and visualise this world.

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