The Engineer (A Chronicles of Actaeon), by Darran M. Handshaw
"We are born in the shadow of fading memories and fallen dreams, living our days within the decaying bones of an age long gone."
When the Engineer, Actaeon, arrives at Pyramid in the heart of Redemption, nothing goes according to plan. Mysterious raiders pursue him relentlessly across the shattered remains of the ancient metropolis, and the leaders of his homeland pay no heed to his ambitious ideas. Meanwhile, deep beneath Pyramid, a deadly creature stirs. And, when Actaeon meets a skilled young Knight Arbiter with brilliant blue eyes, he starts down a path he could never have imagined.
The vast, fallen city of the Ancients is home to a new people who face the constant struggle to find resources needed to survive in the dangerous ruins. For the Engineer, however, Redemption is a treasure trove of technology, opportunity, and answers. But his unique skills make him a target for those who would use his talents to achieve their own dreams of power and control.
In his endless quest for the truth, will Actaeon discover the fallen city’s greatest secrets? Or will he share the same fate as the Ancients of whom nothing remains but a whisper?
One thing is certain: in Redemption, everything comes with a cost.
My Review (4 out of 5 )
The Engineer is a really peculiar book, and it is the debut novel from Darran M. Handshaw, being a mix between science fiction, and what we could call an adventures chronicles, featuring Actaeon as one of the main characters, the one that gives sense to the title, and situated in the world of Redemption, which is partially based on the adventures lived by the own author in a text-based RPG, telling also how he met his wife.
The story begins next to Pyramid, one of the most important places in the city of Redemption, showing how Actaeon is being persecuted by some mysterious raiders, without being clear why it is happening. Soon, we get to know that the occupation of Actaeon is a sort of Engineer (and that is his title), trying to research how technology works, and working on developing new kinds of tools. He gets some partners to help him in his explorations of the old places in Redemption, Wave, and Trench, who acts as sidekick characters, also helping to sometimes relax the gravity of the narrative.
This peculiar group is soon joined in the spotlight by Eisandre, a Knight Arbiter, who will become an important piece in the story, representing also the character Darran's wife used to play. In a really fast way, a love relationship also gets developed between Eisandre and Actaeon, despite the cultural differences that exist and the rank Eisandre has. Even with this small gripe, I think the chemistry between these two is soon obvious, and it helps the plot to develop, also taking some of the deductive weight from Actaeon, making Eisandre as important to the development of the plot as the Engineer.
Worldbuilding is probably the aspect that shines more in this book, and honestly, it is difficult for it to not eclipse the rest. Redemption is a dystopic world, in some aspects could be called post-apocalyptic, where society has amnesia, and live in a sort of pre-industrial settlement. In Redemption there are rests of technology from a more advanced civilization, called the Ancients, being the maximum symbol of it Pyramid. Getting to know how this technology works might produce a great advance in civilization, but maybe not all people are focused on it. Through the eyes of Actaeon, his analytical mind, and the adventures he lives, we will get to know more about how this technology can work, and as said previously, it is the best aspect of the book.
Regarding pace, I found it at the start a little bit slow, mostly due to the great amount of information the author wants to give us about the world of Redemption, as it seems he had a clear picture in his mind of how it should be. Once we overcome the first part, where the exposition takes a great part of the focus, we get a really engaging plot, that keeps you hooked until the end, especially because you start discovering how everything works in reality.
In summary, I think The Engineer is a good debut book, and one that is perfect for those readers who enjoy heavy worldbuilding, strange technologies, and an analytical resolution of problems, as that is the main characteristic of the main character. I personally enjoyed it despite the slow start, and honestly, I want to return to Redemption soon.
Darran M. Handshaw
Darran M. Handshaw is the author of The Engineer and The Dark Heart of Redemption. In addition to writing, Darran works as an R&D Engineer at a technology company. There he invents and designs new products. He holds more than 70 patents in data capture, vision systems, and emergency services. Darran also volunteers as a firefighter and EMT with his local fire department, where he serves as the Chief of Department. Darran hails from Long Island, NY, where he lives with his wife, Stefanie, and son, Corwin, who fill his life with love, wisdom, and endless adventures.