Recusant is the second book in the Brin Archives series by Jim Cronin and having enjoyed the first in the series, so much, I was extra keen to discover what had become of our heroes in this new land. The first question I always ask when reading the second book in a series is: Does it stand alone? Would it matter if the books were read out of sequence? The answer to that is no. In fantasy/sci-fi novels it often does, as the worlds created by the author are introduced and explained in much more detail, along with the main characters, in the first novel of a series. Cronin, though, has done an excellent job of giving the reader a broad understanding. I would still recommend one read Hegira, before Recusant, but only because it is such a good tale and one worth following from one book to another. The world of the Brin’s and the characters that inhabit it are, thankfully, not too wild and weird for this reader to get his head around. Any reader should quickly be able to place the characters and their ancestors in the correct boxes in their minds. This is always the sign an author has achieved what he/she set out to do, without having to rehash book one again, before starting book two. This is a good job by author Cronin.
In Recusant we find the Brin thriving on their new world that they share with the humans. The original “saviours”, as they were known are long gone, but Malache Rocker, a direct descendant of the originals, uncovers a dark secret that threatens to tear their new society to pieces. In order to expose this evil, Rocker must take on those in power, including members of his own family. Unless he is successful, thousands of innocent people will die from the cruelty of the Brin species.
Although ultimately a fantasy/sci-fi novel, it does, like all good novels, explore the human dilemmas and condition and it does this very well. The interactions between the two species (Brin's and Humans) are the very staple of this story and remind us of those great moral questions we still face today. The spectres of racism, prejudice, prejudgment, greed, the greater good, service, and of course, love are all explored in this fantastic story. Recusant, like Hegira, is a great adventure story that allows us to discover new worlds and different civilisations. The reassurance is in the knowledge that the problems faced by humanity may be more universal than we think. Recusant is a sweet story in places and I really did enjoy the book, which is outside of my usual reading genre.
As a series, the Brin Archives, is a very readable, two-book series for Science Fiction aficionados who don’t want to deal too deeply with the technical aspects of the future, time travel, or interstellar travel, but just fancy a good, rollicking adventure tale, with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure. I said after reading Hegira, that Cronin’s work reminded me of the early Robert A Heinlein books that I enjoyed so much as a teenager. Recusant has done nothing to change that opinion. I think Jim Cronin is a bright, talented, author, with a wide human experience to share, through the vehicle and genre of Science Fiction. I can’t recommend this Series: Hegira and Recusant, enough. I look forward to future offerings from Cronin.