Review: Ardulum: Third Don by J.S. Fields

The planet wakes.

Atalant is torn between two worlds. In uncharted space, head of a sentient planet, the new eld of Ardulum now leads the religion she once rejected. Emn is by her side but the Mmnnuggl war brewing in the Charted Systems, threatening her homeworld of Neek, cannot be ignored. Atalant must return to the planet that exiled her in order to lead the resistance. She must return home a god, a hypocrite, a liar in gold robes, and decide whether to thrust her unwilling people into the truth of Ardulum, or play the role she has been handed and never see her family, or her world, again.

*Contains spoilers from Book 1 & 2*

By now readers will know about the Andal. A semi-sentient group of trees with intricate root systems and what appears to be a psychic link to Ardulan’s and their distant cousins from planet Neek. For Ardulum this is a symbiotic relationship as Andal is a source of food, shelter, and tech for Ardulan’s and in return, Ardulan’s assist the Andal by finding new planets for it to spread its seeds (children, it calls them children!!).

While I am geeking out on Andal, I’d like to bring attention to a native fig tree in Australia commonly named ‘Morton Bay Fig’ (which can also be found in other subtropical climates around the world). While my imagination modified this while I was reading, this is the link I made. Further to geeking out, here is an excerpt from Wikipedia about the behaviour of how this (real) tree thrives….

“It is best known for its imposing buttress roots. As Ficus macrophylla is a strangler fig, seed germination usually takes place in the canopy of a host tree and the seedling lives as an epiphyte until its roots establish contact with the ground. It then enlarges and strangles its host, eventually becoming a freestanding tree by itself.

This is similar to how I imagine Andal, native to Ardulum, thriving on other planets. Somewhat insidious in a totally weedlike way but it’s psychic “voice” heard through our main characters makes it seem innocent and somewhat likeable (yes I just wrote that)…..

So now that I’ve bored you all to death with my love for trees, let’s get on with the actual review……

There is a surprise in the beginning of this third book which I was not prepared for but totally on board with. The Captain has returned and has a sidekick who is another hybrid Risalian-Ardulan who cannot speak and has been named Salice (pretty). Yorden and Salice are captives of the Mmnnuggls who are planning an attack on Neek to draw out the Ardulans and destroy them for their betrayal.

We learn Neek’s birth name in this book, and she is struggling to fit in as an Eld on Ardulum as well as balance her duties with her time in her new relationship with Emn.

I really enjoyed the way this book brought everything together. There is a lot going on but I didn’t feel confused at all. Some sci-fi I just done get, and feel stupid when I read, but this is not one of them. I followed along and was immersed in this world. We get more time inside Emn’s head in this story, and I really enjoyed her point of view. Emn is essentially an outsider even though she is powerful. She has a hard time fitting in on Ardulum with the people who are not used to flairs or other species.

There is a fair amount of conflict in this story, and a lot of the groundwork is set in book one and two. Ekimet has a bigger role. They are stranded on Neek, which is under fire from Mmnnuggls with low tech and no contact with other planets to assist.

Oh, and there are fungi beings!! Like in Fantasia, but cooler. That was a lot of fun. Ridiculously intelligent and very outspoken I loved this addition to the beings in this world.

I’d recommend this to fans of sci-fi and anyone wanting to dip their toes in to see if they enjoy this genre. This cannot be read as a standalone so definitely start at the beginning.

A review copy was provided for an honest opinion

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