“Homeworld of the Heart” by S.P. Somtow

“Homeworld” is the last book in an epic series that was written decades ago. Thus it has the advantage of a ready-made universe, built over many years and through many stories. What better background could you have for a futuristic Fantasy novel with roots deep in the convoluted mysteries of the East and the elaborate flourishes of its architecture? The very writing style and descriptive vocabulary is as awesome in its way as the rich carvings of Wat Arun or Angor Wat. The political structure upon which the story hangs is as convoluted as the myths of an ancient religion, and the eroticism of the story has its roots in the licentious elements of ancient societies of the Orient.

Superimposed on a galaxy-spanning society we have individual characters whose inner lives are in some ways as complex as their outer environment. Because of the complexity of the plotlines and the density of the description (and names like “hokh’Ton Ton Elloran n’Taanyel Tath, Lord of Varezhdur”) it takes a while to figure everyone out, but once their storylines start to evolve, the main individuals are easy to connect to.  Later in the story, the conflicts are narrowed down to human proportions: love versus hate, individuality versus prejudice, and we are led to a satisfactory, if mildly dispassionate, conclusion.

The usual drawback in such a heavily narrative story is an evenness of tone, a lack of suspense and tension. When we deal with the surreal and the universe-spanning metaphysical, it is hard to see actions on a human scale. The serenity of the sublime and the tranquility of nirvana do not allow much room for mere human emotions.

So do not expect martial arts battles or armadas of spaceships armed with esoteric weaponry. The battles of this novel occur within the human soul.

Highly recommended for fans of the baroque, lovers of the sensual in writing.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)



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