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Lee Hogan
Roc, 416 pages

Lee Hogan
Lee Hogan is an officer with the Department of Corrections and lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

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SF Site Review: Belarus

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer


"Who are you? the human victims asked their tormentors. Why are you doing this?
We are your Enemies, was the reply."
Belarus was a beautiful planet. Hard in the winter, true, but in the summer it was a jewel. A perfect place for Andrei Mironenko to set up his new Russia, filled with people of all faiths, who adhered to the Bill of Rights with the same devotion they used when reading their holy books. At least, until the Enemy came.

The Enemy is a humanoid race, but no one would mistake them for human. They are too slender, too cold. They are frighteningly strong and merciless. Torture, long and painful, is the highest of art forms. Andrei, in order to get the Enemy to even discuss things with him, is forced to give them someone who is dear to him to be tortured. He chooses Gregori, who will die soon anyway. Gregori transferred his being, his memories, into a blood red stone that now, years later lies hidden in an Eqyptian-esque tomb. Only the sprites, little engineered electronic creatures, too tiny to even see, and do a lot of the observing for him know where he is. He will play a great part in Enemies, because having been there from the beginning, and having seen the Enemy's coming and the events that preceded it, he is a mine of information. What lies in his memories could save Belarus, and many people want to get their hands on him.

These are not the only characters. The closest thing to a main protagonist we have is Serina Kurakin-Scriabin. After a bloody execution, her uncle is now the Tsar. A poison that was released in the first war with the Enemy has tainted the gene pool of the humans of Belarus, and once in awhile a woman is born with some sort of deformity In Serina's case, her jaw is malformed. The women of Belarus have hardly any rights, and she even less. The mark of Last Resort means that she has evil in her heart, and that God is punishing her, that she bears the price of all their sins. She must wear a veil so that none may be infected by her evil. Serina has partially been raised by her Enemy tutor Ayat-ko. Even though Ayat-ko has been in a semi-nurturing position, there are no feelings of sentimentality here. Serina knows that Ayat-ko is dangerous. What she does not know is exactly what the Enemy wants from her. This relationship, and the fact that Serina is totally insecure in her position, (not insecure as in lacking faith in herself -- that she has plenty) for politics move quickly and at any time she knows that she, a liability, can be sacrificed for a greater familial cause, adds a lot of tension.

Argus and his ESA (Enhanced Special Agent) team make up the third element. The ambassador Vasily Burakov has been fired from his position. Now that the old Tsar and his family have been executed, the new regime feels that he may be tainted. They are the outsiders. They desire to bring this lost colony back into the fold, but first a lot of changes need to be made. Now that others have encountered the Enemy, it is essential that they figure out the methods the people of Belarus have used to survive.

All of these characters are well drawn, each one contributing a great deal. For instance, we have the Baba Yaga of myth, who is sort of a strange guardian, who guides things to suit her own purposes, and Anastasia, whose cruel, mad habits make her Cousin Serina fear that she may be psychotic. This strong use of characters means that there is a lot that goes on, both in the fore and back ground.

The world itself is fabulous. Baba Yaga adds slightly mythical undertones, and the pace names, such as Saint Petersburg and The Winter Palace evoke the old grandeur of Russia, even as the social and political happenings evoke its weaknesses. There is also a clash. Technology and the old feel combining together make for some very strong contrasts that work to make the setting feel even more mythical.

Enemies takes up where Belarus left off, and despite sometimes having the feeling that what I was reading referred back to this previous book, I felt the tale stands strongly on its own. Near the end, Lee Hogan lays a few lines for the next book, creating a twist that should make for a fascinating next story.

Copyright © 2003 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

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