Cover art for “Kor’Thank, Barbarian Valley Girl” by Kent Wayne
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I’ve been reading Kent Wayne’s Kor’Thank, Barbarian Valley Girl for a while now, and even though it’s gotten terrific reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, I had a hard time getting into it.
It’s not because the book is uninteresting or that it lacks action. It’s packed with action and suspense. I can only assume that it’s me.
Okay, here’s the deal (spoilers ahead). A fictional high school in the San Francisco Bay area is located next to a super-secret government research lab that has captured creatures from other worlds and has an inter-dimensional gateway.
A narcissistic, self-absorbed (didn’t I just say that) Asian super nerd named Peter who is always being bullied by the school jocks and cheerleaders, has a serious love/hate relationship with Holly Dent, who has just become captain of the cheer-leading squad after cheating her butt off (which involves doing significant harm to her rival). He also has a female friend who seems to be the “only adult in the room” named Eun Yin, but she can’t keep Peter from starting something he calls “the Fuckrising” to get revenge for his mistreatment.
Cover image of Kent Wayne’s novel “Echo Volume 4: The Last Edge of Darkness”
I finally got around to keeping my promise to Kent Wayne (pseudonym) and finishing and reviewing the fourth edition of his “Echo” series, Echo Volume 4: The Last Edge of Darkness Kindle Edition . It marks the conclusion of the physical, psychological, and spiritual quest of elite soldier, Crusader Kischan Atriya.
For reference, here are my reviews of Echo 1, Echo 2, and Echo 3.
In this final installment, Atriya finally arrives at the semi-mythical Mandala City. He has a brief reunion with his former tutor and mystical adept Chrysalis Verus, but the main action centers around his training (again) with Mandala City’s blind “Headmaster” Dake. The training physically disassembles Atriya on a daily basis in an effort to get him to “free his mind” (shades of “the Matrix”).
Actually, there were tons and tons of entertainment, literary, religious, and philosophical references. Wayne pulled no punches in pouring every last ounce of his own viewpoints and beliefs (which he makes very plain in the afterword) into Atriya, Dake, and most of the other characters.
Cover image of Kent Wayne’s “Echo Volume 3: The Dialectic of Agony”
I’ve been following Kent Wayne’s (pen name) Echo series for a few years now. Kent is an indie author with a vision for life on and in orbit around a colony world called “Echo” set a thousand years in the future. Being a veteran, he renders military action with a keenly realistic voice, sometimes going over the top. After reviewing Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter over two years ago, and Echo Volume 2: The Taste of Ashes last October, I was anxious to get into the third installment, Echo Volume 3: The Dialectic of Agony.
“Agony” takes a very dramatic twist away from the first two novels. In “Shatter,” we are introduced to “Crusader” Kischan Atriya, an elite soldier who is becoming dissatisfied with his role as “Crew” but is unable to articulate why. He gets in deep with members of a despotic religious order who have ordered his death, and after a brief encounter with his mentor, the mysterious Verus, we follow him in a slow descent into what could be the end of his life, engineered by his own supposed allies during a mission into a “Scape.”
Volume 2 picks up right where the first tale leaves off, and the reader is thrust into an adrenaline-fueled power dive with wall-to-wall combat scenarios, the first half of the novel being non-stop action. Atriya manages to survive, thanks to his specialized enhancements, his own wits, and his unimpeachable sense of honor, but at a terrible cost to his body and mind. Having barely survived by the end of the story, he has few options left, all of them leading to tragedy and death.
Kent Wayne’s “Echo: Approaching Shatter”
I just finished reading Kent Wayne’s novel Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter. I knew it ended on a cliffhanger, but I didn’t realize it would be so abrupt. It was like slamming into a brick wall at sixty miles an hour.
I’ve been reading it on my Kindle Fire and the thing said I’d finished something like 86% of the book. When I swiped to turn the page at the end of a chapter, I was confronted with a message stating it was the end of the story and if I liked it, to write an Amazon review. The rest of the book is a preview of Volume 2: The Taste of Ashes.
Somewhere in the creation of my blog and writing stories, Kent Wayne took notice of some of the things I’d authored by “liking” them, and so I checked out and eventually followed his blog Dirty Sci-Fi Buddha. That’s how I became aware of his Echo series.
My understanding is that “Kent Wayne” is a pen name (Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne), and I recall reading one bio on him saying he had military experience but preferred not to give out details, making Wayne and what he did in the service a bit of a mystery. That may seem irrelevant, but I do have a point to make.
He does go more into his history on his blog’s About page, and Echo: Approaching Shatter definitely gives the impression that Wayne is mining his own professional experience.
I had a tough time getting into the novel. It’s not like I’m opposed to military based science fiction. I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War and Timothy Zahn’s Cobra, but that was decades ago. For about the first half of the book, I kept struggling for a handle or a hook and couldn’t find it. I didn’t know whether to even like the protagonist Atriya (and mentally, I kept pronouncing his name as “Attila”).