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‘The IX:’ Book Review

Simplicity in the midst of intricate complexity.

Such is the cornerstone of Andrew P. Weston’s masterful science fiction novel, The IX. Tens of thousands of lightyears from Earth and centuries into the future, an astoundingly advanced alien culture is falling prey to those who use their advancement against them. Known as The Horde, this vast and seemingly instinctive race of predators are feasting upon the Ardenese, whose technology fails to provide them with weapon powerful enough to defeat their enemy. As the Ardenese hurtle towards extinction, they place the essence of their culture into The Ark, a technological marvel existing over a fracture in space time. Using the fracture to their advantage, the Ardenese program their computer, The Architect, to scan time and space for the best candidates to defeat The Horde. Swept up at the moment of their death, these selected few are tasked with the unenviable goal of destroying The Horde – or falling victim to the clutches of the beasts.

Yet upon whom does the Architect place its final hope? A first century Roman Legion (the fabled IX Legion lost in the hills of Scotland), a 19th century American Cavalry troop, and a 21st century special-ops team. They comprise the ninth and final wave of support against The Horde and are a stark contrast to the previous waves. For unlike the eight waves before them, the IX wave hold the key to the destruction of The Horde – and it is an answer so simple, it astounds them all.

Weston’s The IX is a masterful combination of blissfully minimalistic writing and the advanced complexity of a superb science fiction novel, indicative of Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheart and James Dashner’s The Maze Runner. Instead of forty pages of waiting for the characters to figure out what we already know, we get a solid few that imparts upon us the same amount of affection and pride for our characters – without frustrating us to the point of skipping to ‘get to the good part.’ With Weston’s writing, the whole novel is the good part. The pace moves rapidly, with the intelligent dialogue and well-choreographed action allowing us to progress with the plot while also connecting us with the characters.

As in the novel, simplicity is often underrated – especially in writing itself. Clean and precise storytelling is often overlooked for pages of political banter, chapters of history, and subplot upon subplot so saturated in characters that you need a notebook just to keep track of who’s alive and who’s dead. (I’m talking to you, George R.R. Martin.) Such a story has its charms, but there’s a point where reading becomes more of a chore than a feat of imagination. Any description included in The IX is essential to the plot, and the history is hardly superfluous, but it doesn’t weigh the overall story (or the reader) down. In fact, this parallelism between Weston’s minimalistic writing with a sophisticated plot and a simple answer to a sophisticated problem brilliantly adds to the magic of the novel. Heck, even the title fits the theme.

Now, that’s not to say the story is simple. To call it such would be a sham. The science fiction, based on temporal mechanics, electrodynamics, and biomechanics, is complex but easy to understand, largely due to Weston’s precise writing. Additionally, while the term “simple” implies underdeveloped characters, it is precisely that clean description of our main troup and the way they face their adventures that endears them to us. Sure, there are subplots and side journeys into the lives of our characters, but they are so expertly woven into the story that it never feels like a departure from the overall story.

Ultimately, when it comes to science fiction, I want a book that captures me from page one and never gives me a reason to want to escape. I want a book that forces me to stay up until 3 a.m., because there is no point at which it is ideal to put it down. I want a book whose characters and plots are complex and intelligent, but elegantly crafted with the minimum of distraction.

The IX delivers.

Simplicity in the midst of intricate complexity.

Score: 9/10




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