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Book review: The Rise of The Winged Lion

*I received a copy of The Rise of The Winged Lion from the author in exchange for an honest review of the book*

Book review of Enemy of Evil – The Rise of The Winged Lion

This is my book review of Enemy of Evil – The Rise of the Winged Lion by Lars A.R. Stender. It is the first book in the sci-fi series; Enemy of Evil.

Summary

The Galaxy, 5,000 years from now. The Vorg are in control. […] The Vorg live inside almost every denizen of their vast empire. Mankind is but another host organism. […] Count Naka Stronn of House Stronn wants to change things. Having discovered the location of an ancient superweapon that once destroyed another galactic empire, the Count concocts a complex plan to oust the Vorg and place himself on the throne […] he must first send his in-vitro offspring, Brigadier Proxima Stronn, to the planet Carolis Anca with an invasion force to secure the superweapon.

Tyron Brandt is a young but highly skilled member of the Huntsmen, natives of Carolis Anca. When the Stronns invade, Tyron loses his girlfriend, his family, his clan, and his homeworld in less than an hour! […] he is rescued by an unlikely alliance between a mysterious, alien female and a sentient creature living in the rivers of one of Carolis Anca’s large forests.

On the planet Korundra, Crown Princess Li-An Tarnee is forced into a political marriage with a man she does not love. However, that is only the beginning of her problems […]

As the fates of these people become entwined, the being known as The Awesome One awakens after having been asleep for millennia, and an entire galaxy begins to shake.

Verdict

When the author first approached me through my contact page with some information on The Rise of the Winged Lion, I thought to myself that I had to give it a chance. It is actually not that often that I read/receive review copies that aren’t connected to a publisher. Also, this book seemed to just contain everything. Literally every single kind of plot structure seemed to be thrown in (I’ve edited the summary above but seriously). So naturally, my interest was piqued. I like a solid plot with lots of intertwining stories and this one seemed ambitious.

Sci-fi meets sci-fi in The Rise of the Winged Lion

It seems that Stender knows their sci-fi to the teeth. There is a certain galaxy lingo, there are intergalactic spacepolitics and worlds of different stages and levels as well as detailed mentions of spacecrafts and equipment. That is all very well executed and good I presume, if you’re into knowing how a specific laser gun works. I am not extremely interested in the inner workings of space equipment when in the middle of a battle, so in my eyes, the author might want to have saved that for a different chapter. It just slows down the battle to a point where you forget there is action going on in the scene. It distracts from the plot.

Whilst reading The Rise of the Winged Lion, I couldn’t help but feel that a lot of elements were heavily influenced by other stories, such as Star Trek, Star Wars and Avatar, to name a few of the most dominant. I must be clear that I haven’t even fully seen Star Trek or Star Wars, so I am not intimately familiar with their universes. However, it seemed to me that The Rise of the Winged Lion leaned on them quite a lot, missing out on having its own unique feel for most of the book.

But, for sci-fi lovers (myself included) this book might prove to be just what they want to read, when relaxing and diving into even more space politics and wars that span decades and light years. It was a nice read for the most part. The plot generally had me reading “just one more chapter” several times, to find out what would happen.

Intergalactic feminist… or?

There are several good things about this book, but several not so good things as well. I’ll not get into all of them, but I will say this: If you’re a feminist of any degree, this book might not sit entirely well with you. It was very very clear when reading the book, that it was written for the (heterosexual) male reader and not really inclusive or sensitive towards the female identifying reader.

One of the good things is that gender is very fluid in this world. Males and females and a third gender are introduced, but it is no longer common to reproduce the ‘natural’ way. Males and females are also mostly separated but can hold the same titles and jobs for the most part. Third gender persons are free to mingle with both genders and everyone seems to either have a very fluid concept of sex or refer to robots etc. when the need arises. There are a lot of slave people in the universe though, so equality only goes so far. But it’s a nice effort for sure!

If you’re a writer and curious to know what you should or should not include in the final book, maybe this blogpost on what to research, might be a useful place to start?

Writer research your novel what matters?

Spoiler alerts ahead!

Spoiler alert: at some points in the story’s main narrative, a female of some species, is wearing little to nothing. That in itself is actually okay for me, that’s not a problem. My issue with these instances is that it did nothing for the plot but halt it and went on for a page or two, describing how sexy she looked in a very tiny, white silk, string bikini. I’m sorry but that’s (for the most part) a male fantasy and has nothing to do with the plot. At all. This obsession with this particular female’s sexual dresscode continues throughout the book and she doesn’t do much, except act as an object for desire. She seems strong at first, but her character, sadly, is quite flat and uninteresting as she becomes more and more about sex and sexual desires.

Another spoiler alert

Oh and towards the end – (super spoiler alert again, but maybe not really), the princess of a certain planet is taken hostage on a spaceship and guess three times what they force her to wear. Let me just say it is eerily similar to Princess Leia’s slave bikini outfit. Yes, the princess in this story will be wearing a white bikini and some chains and then someone has put tiny gemstones on her face. As a burlesque producer who likes stories with spaceships, this is what I thought when reading that scene:

  • Who of the aliens (all presented as male and not all humanoid) brings a white silk bikini. In a size that will fit an 18-year old humanoid girl, on a spaceship? In any case, they will need to buy it somewhere before kidnapping her and that will take some time to procure, if from another planet. Or one of the aliens like to wear swimming attire.
  • Who, seriously, who spent the time putting all those self-adhesive gemstones on the girl’s face before then presenting her to the other prisoners? Also, why would they have self-adhesive gemstones on the spaceship? Maybe one of the aliens has a very creative hobby, I might be wrong there.

I get why some of this kind of content can be fun and alluring to write. But it bugs me as a (female identifying) reader when I have to sit through scenes like that. It’s one of my pet peeves. Not to mention all the other very adult content, but that’s just my personal preference and in this books that happens to all genders, so some equality exists.

Read it if…

Okay so you like diving into weird intergalactic spacepolitics with a dash of Star Trek/Star Wars. You loved the idea of Princess Leia in that gold bikini. Then The Rise of the Winged Lion might be a perfect read for you. Did I mention it also has a prophecy and a chosen warrior to save all the worlds. Not to mention a budding romance between a very young girl and the chosen warrior? If you like the idea and you’re okay with mature content, go ahead! If you’re hesitant however, I suggest you look for something else to read.

What are your thoughts on intergalactic warpolitics and sci-fi lovestories? Have you read The Rise of the Winged Lion? Let me know in the comment section below – I’d love to hear from you!

If you’re curious and want to browse through other book reviews on this page, feel free to have a look at my collection of book reviews right here>>

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