Review of Dusk by Ashanti Luke

Dusk is Ashanti Luke’s debut novel. On the surface it is a book of humanities first manned expedition to a planet outside the solar system and how they there find secrets about humanity that goes beyond Erich von Däniken’s theories. But it is also a compelling story about a fathers love for his son. Here is my review.

Title: Dusk
Series: Dusk book 1
Author: Ashanti Luke
Genre: Military Science Fiction
E-book: 540 pages
Publisher: iUniverse
Copy: Review copy from the author

Excerpt: Chapter 1-4

Order from: iUniverse | Amazon US | UK | B&N

In the year 2500, humanity has become so technologically advanced that overpopulation has led to an Earth too arrogant to acknowledge its own failures. With the Earth overpopulated and polluted, a group of twenty premier scientists must depart on a mission to explore Asha–a distant, uninhabited planet that may offer solutions to humanity’s burgeoning problems. But when they arrive at Asha, the scientists are brusquely greeted by a mysterious human military force that imprisons them with no explanation. They find that during their journey, a faster ship not only delivered humans to Asha, but those humans defeated Earth in an interplanetary civil war. With this war and the discovery of an inexplicable link to mankind’s past, the team finds Asha holds more mysteries than answers. Astrophysicist Cyrus Chamberlain is among those who left behind their old lives and risked everything on this journey. Unfortunately for Dr. Chamberlain, he finds that even if he survives the many challenges this new world holds for him, he may have already lost more than he ever imagined.

Information

Astrophysicist Cyrus Chamberlain is the protagonist of this story, he is deeply devoted to his son and each chapter starts with a short dialog between father and son that exemplifies their bound and let the reader learn something of their world.

The Author

Ashanti Luke was born in Richmond, Virginia. He received his masters in writing from the University of Southern California. For several years, he worked in advertising and the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. Ashanti currently lives in Richmond, Virginia, where he is a professor of English and a personal trainer.

World building

It is an interesting universe Ashanti paints with some major mysteries about where we came from in the discoveries on Asha. His future Earth went through Unification Wars to get a government that dominates most of earth. Earth is in many respects devastated and the new locust is monkeys, they move in everywhere. One of the mysteries in the book is what happened to Earth after the war?

Most of what we learn we get in bits and pieces from his conversations with his son.

The Plot

The story starts with a full out attack where Cyrus has to reach a star ship to save his people or ‘all will be lost’. Then it switches back about five years to when Cyrus woke up aboard after hibernating for almost two hundred years. Personally I hate to know what is going to happen in a book but in this instance we don’ learn much, only that we would like to know more so it was not a biggie. Cyrus comes across as something of a super soldier in that first glimpse, something we quickly learn he is not.

The first one third of the story happen during the five years approach to Asha while the ten all male crew train for their mission to prepare the planet for colonization by the colonists that will arrive in the next ship. Besides the usual male rank games they have intellectual discussions on theology, train martial arts and play real time strategy games, oh wait those where the male rank games. Cyrus is not the official leader of the expedition but establishes a level of trust and respect with all the members of the crew.

That blurb is rather spoilery so you already know they will be arrested by mysterious soldiers when they arrive at Asha and that they have been overtaken by a faster ship and even that they defeated Earth in a war. But how the crew gets free and goes to the bottom with what is really going on is thrilling and well executed. They also uncover mysteries that put our view on human development and our own history into question.

This is the first book in a series so not all the big questions have their answers at the end.There is resolution on some of the plot lines even if that sometimes reveal new mysteries for the sequels to resolve.

Characterization

Cyrus and his son Darien are well developed and easy to relate to. Their relation and how it is presented was a large part of my enjoyment of this story. The rest of the cast is somewhat lacking in detail and dept, not that it hurt the story much.

My View

Dusk is an entertaining and captivating first novel by Ashanti Luke and I love the whole origin mystery at the bottom of it.

The discussions about religion and god made me think of this being some kind of crusade but I can’t quite formulate for what though religion is an important theme in the book.

After the first intellectual dinner party at the beginning of the book with all the high level academic sparing, I had my doubts, this felt like too much work to comprehend. Mind you I have been to meetings like that before and recognized it for what it was. It turned out to be an example and the rest of the book never comes close to that level of convoluted intellectualism again even if it continues to be a bit wordy and there were a few words I had to look up in the dictionary.

The detailed fighting scenes, hints that the author is a martial art practitioner, but it slows down the pace of the story somewhat, it didn’t disturb me much until the end where the details got in the way of the what was really happening, but that could be me. I am sure if you are really into martial art then you would love the detailed descriptions.

The big idea is great and the characters are compelling and there is fast paced action but it shoots just below great and hits good for me because of the time jump after the first chapter, it being a bit too wordy and it has too detailed fighting scenes at the end.

Cyrus Chamberlain reminds me a bit of Colonel O’Neal in John Ringo’s Posleen series so if you like it or Ian Douglas Star Marines series you probably like this too.