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Strings on a Shadow Puppet
T.L. Evans
Createspace, 469 pages

Strings on a Shadow Puppet
T.L. Evans
T.L.Evans was born in Vancouver B.C. in 1966 to an American mother and a British father. Now a full time writer, he has a Doctorate in archaeology from the University of Oxford and has worked throughout Europe, the US and bits of Latin America, specializing in concepts of spatial analysis, gender and identity. He lives with his family in the Pacific Northwest.

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A review by Sandra Scholes

This is T.L. Evans's debut novel about the choices we make as civilised people between conforming to what the government propose or thinking for themselves encouraging democracy and civil rights. It is up to us to be able to choose. Strings on a Shadow Puppet is many things, it's science fiction, mystery, adventure and espionage with a lot of action and thrills to keep you turning the pages. In this future, there are four separate factions fighting for domination, The Imperialists, The Hegemonists, The Egalitists, and The Federalists. For most of the novel the problems the Imperialists face are from the Federalists who use terrorist tactics to get their point across. The book focuses on the power struggle between the four factions.

In a future where technology has become a large part of humanity's evolution, there are always people who oppose what the government's view as the norm or how they think it should be, but a faction calling themselves The Wayang are led by the Dalang, their leader who believes that everyone, no matter what their social status or upbringing, should have the "ability to control one's own future." In their eyes it's not just for the privileged few aristocrats; it is intended for all just as it is "to select one's own government." To intercept the Wayang Liberation Front, Alex has joined the 12th Fleet of Ripper's Raiders, a well-known naval fleet that take many risks for the good of the people. Alex comes from a rich background and we first see him mixing with high society people at a lavish party. People he pretends to get on with, but the only person he actually wants to talk to is Sally. She lifts his spirits despite all the other more influential people being there.

When Alex gets on board the ship, it's only there where he feels at home, serving with the men who matter. His happiness is short lived though when there is a threat from the possibility that there could be a mole in the 12th Fleet, and it is Alex's job to find out who it is. As he originally thought, he had been assigned to the 12th Fleet of Ripper's Raiders to intercept the mole, he becomes embroiled in its mystery, spies and espionage. Nowhere is safe and what is more disturbing is the knowledge that the mole could be one of their own. Alex has to keep alert and be an observer if he wants to catch the spy, but more than anything else he can't possibly trust anyone, not even those he might have considered friends.

Evans has based the story from his novel on the Javanese shadow puppetry. In this the Wayang is the word for shadow puppetry, while the Dalang in the word for the puppeteer who controls its strings. The author has seen the performances and the sight ever since has captured his imagination. He must have thought it was the perfect idea for his novel where Alex is a fully worked out character among several who seem to stand out well in the whole scheme of the story. Alex's unhappiness at being around the rich and powerful showed as he is a man who wants to get his hands dirty and get up close and personal with ridding the world of terrorists and dangerous spies. Strings on a Shadow Puppet is the sort of novel (nice and heavy and fits on your bookshelf -- or Kindle/iPad) and one you're likely to read again, if only for Alex.

Copyright © 2014 Sandra Scholes

So far Sandra has got into reading military romance just because of this book, and thanks writers like this one for steering her in a different direction. When she isn't reading she's drawing manga, watching anime series and doing origami.

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