Knowing I wanted to start writing book reviews, I also knew I couldn’t be particularly successful only writing about Stephen King books. While I’d love to continue living in my own little cove where King was the end-all-be-all of horror literature, I must grow and expand my horizons.
This led me to a fairly new work by author Bryan Alaspa, The Man From Taured. To me, Alaspa’s name was a new one but after some research, I found that he has released around 40 original titles, so clearly I was late to the game. I don’t remember exactly how I came across The Man from Taured, but it’s concepts of parallel dimensions appealed to the quantum physicist within me that had long since gone dormant when I could barely pass high school math classes. But that’s another story.
This story tells the tale of Homeland Security agent Noble Randel, who is called into action when a strange man arrives at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport from an international flight. The man is not weird because he wears odd clothing, or has a two-foot-tall neon pink mohawk, or anything of that nature. He’s weird because upon attempting to enter the US, he presented a passport, ID, and other credentials issued in the country Taured. Now, before you dig out your atlases or pull up Google Maps, I’ll save you the trouble and let you know that Taured does not exist, and has never existed, anywhere on this planet. Then, as soon as this man appears, he vanishes without a trace. Noble’s investigation leads him down a rabbit hole of sorts, opening his mind to the concepts of parallel universes and interdimensional travel.
Now, if this sounds mildly familiar to you, you’re not crazy. Alaspa has based this novel on the old urban legend referred to as, you guessed it, “The Man from Taured.” If you are unfamiliar with this tale, go educate yo’ self. Expanding on the legend, Alaspa fleshes out a backstory using concepts of rifts in time and space and an interdimensional organization that works to protect the multiverse from an evil and ancient entity known only as “The Void.” The book does a good job with combining science fiction and ancient religious beliefs, such as The Void often times being very reminiscent of Lucifer, particularly Dante Alighieri’s version of him. Our main protagonist, Noble, reminds me of an everyday Joe that just wants to do his job until he is thrust into the life of a hero. One mighthave to wonder though if maybe he was a little too quick to answer the call. The ideas of a multiverse and a prehistoric… thing that wants nothing but to swallow each dimension whole seem like they should be slightly more difficult concepts to grasp than Mr. Randel conveyed. But a book can only be so long, I suppose, and things have to keep rolling.
While Noble is our protagonist, I feel like the most interesting parts of the novel may have been in the flashbacks of other characters. Much more of the history of The Void and the organization I.D.E.A. (want to know what it stands for? Read the book.) are revealed in these past tales from the memories of other characters than is told in the primary story. That’s not to say that Noble’s story isn’t engaging, but I felt like I got more satisfaction reading about Witten’s exploits in the past than Noble’s challenges in the present. Flashbacks were a large portion of this book, as many of them went on for quite a while. As I said, the flashbacks told a good story, but at the same time I feel like they took concentration off of the main story. A couple of times, a flashback would end, and I felt myself kinda lost, not remembering where the present storyline left off.
Criticisms aside, this book provided a lot of cool concepts that tease the “what if” portion of the brain. It kept me engaged and I was definitely interested in what happened next through the entire book. If science and physics, parallel universes, ancient battles of good and evil, and evil demon children exploding into black goo are things that appeal to you, then I think you will definitely enjoy this book.
The Man from Taured is available through Amazon in paperback, audio and e-reader (Kindle) formats.