When the planet Melela is overtaken by the brutal Relcor, the royal family is sentenced to death. The day before their execution, the queen calls upon military man Rez Cantor to help her young daughter, the princess, escape. Rez manages to grab the princess and run, but as they attempt to leave the planet, they are sucked into a portal and flung to the opposite side of the galaxy to the planet Tiiana and its five moons: Urlena, Boutal, Zin, Aura, and Vashia. Landing on Urlena with no princess in sight, Rez is kidnapped and enslaved, just the beginning of his long journey to saving Melela from the Reclor.
From the gargoyle-like Brata on Boutal to the water-breathing Aquella and Dolla on Urlena to the menacing insect-like Zecla on Zin, dozens of species inhabit the five moons. As Rez meets, befriends, and fights these creatures, he learns more about them, how they live, and how they each contribute to the mysterious circumstances surrounding Tiiana. Though there seem at first to be an unnecessarily large number of species, each plays a central part in the way the society has come to work. And while the Aquella, Rez’s captors and the first inhabitants he meets, appear to be evil and controlling, they are in fact simply the middle-man, the bourgeois of Tiiana. Though Rez is the novel’s protagonist, the Aquella are perhaps the most human of the novel’s characters. They enslave and brutalize the childlike Dolla, as well as Rez, forcing them to mine for metal in an underwater cave, but in truth, this metal is meant to feed the enormous, insatiable enemy hovering over their moon, sent there by the Zecla in an attempt to destroy the moon so the Zecla could take over. The Aquella’s efforts to save their planet mirror that of humanity’s survival methods: sacrificing some morals when in dire circumstances.
Rez, the novel’s first-person narrator, acts as the typical heroic figure, saving the princess and the galaxy, befriending the “good guys,” and causing irritation to the “bad guys.” The other characters that Rez comes to befriend or to distrust each have distinctive and consistent personalities, creating an intricate and realistic society. Each of the five moons as well has a specific atmosphere and, along with its inhabitants, portrays a complex system in balance. Paul T. Harry’s world-building skills are superb.
Some grammar and punctuation errors are scattered throughout this 500 page epic, but not enough to distract from the story, which has the reader clutching the book in their firm grasp, unable to put it down. And while the main characters — namely Rez, the princess, and the Relcor — are quite archetypical, they are never clichés. The only issue that may create some uncertainty is the time frame of the story. Rez in enslaved by the Aquella for two years while he is separated from the princess and his home planet of Melela is overtaken by the Relcor. It takes him at least five years to travel between the five moons and to discover the simple truth behind this complex system of cohabitating creatures. The fast pace of the action at times contradicts the time frame of the story, leading the reader to feel as though the action has only taken Rez across the galaxy in a matter a few weeks, though in truth he has been in Tiiana for almost ten years. This matter, however, is the novel’s only distraction.
The 5 Moons of Tiiana is an excellent specimen of the science fiction genre. It is a gripping adventure with characters that come alive on the page and fast-paced action that will keep readers turning the pages to discover how Rez will save his love, his friends, and his galaxy.