Editorial Review: Solitude of Light: Beyond Cascadia: Three by S. Kirk Pierzchala

Editorial Review: Solitude of Light: Beyond Cascadia: Three by S. Kirk Pierzchala

Tomás Chen-Diaz turns his back on the vast wealth at his disposal to instead focus on becoming a man of holiness and purpose. However, while his fellow recruits train for surviving in harsh Lunar or Martian environments, Tomás has a much more personal destination in mind.

Solitude of Light is the third book in the Beyond Cascadia series, so some familiarity with the characters is needed to fully appreciate the depth of the story. It is primarily the tale of Tomás Chen-Diaz, who has been through hell and back in the previous two books. The first half of the book deals with his decision to join the remote Ad Astra seminary, which is located in the wastelands near Mongolia. It would mean turning his back on his family's powerful corporation and living a simple life of study, prayer, and work.

As expected, everyone questions his motives and even Tomás has some doubts about what he is getting himself into. Nevertheless, Tomás endures the harsh conditions of the seminary and slowly finds himself maturing as a person and growing spiritually.

The second half of the book is set on a desolate island where Tomás' murderous brother, Francisco, is living in exile. Tomás and Francisco share a deeply troubled past, which makes their reunion anything but happy. However, Tomás is determined to get through to his brother and confront the traumas of their shared past.

Although Solitude of Light is set in a very different future, it is a story about people and not things. This is in stark contrast to a lot of science fiction novels where the characters take a backseat to the marvelous technological gadgets that are put on display. Instead, Solitude of Light keeps the focus firmly on its relatively small cast and provides readers with intimate glimpses of their scarred and bruised psyches. Both Tomás and Francisco have suffered a lot, which is something that the story does not shy away from. Those who have read the previous two novels in the series will be familiar with the depth of their suffering, but there are also plenty of flashback scenes to familiarize newcomers with these events.

Solitude of Light also contains a lot of religious elements and Tomás takes his time at Ad Astra very seriously. However, while Tomás finds solace in his faith, Francisco clings to self-righteousness to justify his past actions. This results in frequent clashes between the brothers as they attempt to co-exist in their desolate surroundings.

Overall, Solitude of Light is a slow-paced and introspective novel with compelling characters. The story doesn't shy away from difficult topics and isn't afraid to strip down characters to their emotional cores. Even with the small cast of characters and their isolated surroundings, the author knows how to maintain the tension and deliver shocking twists. The suspense rarely lets up and the Chen-Diaz brothers have such strong personalities that all their interactions are riveting. Solitude of Light is definitely a book aimed at readers that enjoy a deep dive into the innermost thoughts and feelings of characters who are pushed to their limits and forced to confront their flaws. It can make for harrowing reading at times but also ensures that Tomás and Francisco won't fade from readers' memories anytime soon.