Reading Benedict Martin’s Planet Purgatory is, from the very beginning, a literary tsunami. The plot, the characters, and the execution of the story are striking. Martin builds an earth alternative this is unique and magical. However, this is not a fairy tale; the humans in this story are very human, flaws and all. Putting garden variety humans in a bizarre and monster-filled setting is simply fascinating.
David Eno is farmer on a planet where human life is constantly at risk. Along with humans, the planet is populated with variety of aliens and mythical creatures that exist on earth. Some of these non-humans are dangerous to humans, attacking them or removing their souls, leaving them as empty husks. David seems to occupy a special place in the small band of humans; he has been given a gun by SYS, the strange administrative body that seem to serve as a “government” on this strange planet; a privilege no other human has. David has also developed an almost mystical connection to the planet, being the best farmer and the best distiller of chikka, a beet based alcoholic beverage that is prized by the inhabitants of the planet and is somehow connected to the planet’s existence.
After an especially horrific alien attack David decides to find the SYS central office and ask for more guns to defend his small human settlement. His quest becomes a labyrinthine trek, full of odd creatures and danger and violence. Martin’s fertile imagination makes this quest an amazing ride. Though this book doesn’t fit perfectly into any niche market it stands as a page-turner on its own merits.
Adding to the appeal of this book is a spiritual element that is subtle yet pleasing; the use of the word “Purgatory” in the title is significant. Mr. Martin also manages to poke fun at bureaucracies in his handling of SYS. All in all this is one of the best books I have ever read. Though it leans toward the science-fiction fantasy category, it will be a good read for anyone due to its eclectic themes. I would recommend this book to anyone. I look forward to reading Benedict Martin’s next book.
Find “Planet Purgatory” here.