In French, Outremer means overseas. From the 12th-13th century, the word was used to represent feudal Crusader States established in the Middle East by Europe during the First Crusade. Designed to enlighten the inhabitants of the area and bring them under Christian rulership, such feudal states in reality practically enslaved the native inhabitants and tried to destroy the native culture.
I wont profess to know whether or not author Michael Puttre intended to envelope his engrossing space opera in such a heavy, historical context, but it seems apparent from his storyline that there is more than a mere coincidence at work. In his novel, Outre Mer, we find ourselves involve in a new crusade of sorts as Earth has taken control of the home planet of a race known as the Duranni. Here we meet Janni, a Duranni inhabitant who doesnt understand why the Earth forces are so intent on destroying his peoples way of life. Janni becomes the leader of a movement to free his homeland from the invaders and uncovers all manner of terrible secrets about the true nature of the forces working against him.
As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that the majority of Earths inhabitants either do not care if Outre Mer is liberated, or are actively calling to liberate the planet. But the decision to destroy the Duranni people rests in the hands of a small cabal of politicians and operatives with their own shadowy agendas. While a comparison of Puttres novel to current events is easily apparent, its obvious Puttre is looking well beyond the current headlines with his story. Puttre isnt merely providing a futuristic version of current events, he is analyzing the very nature of humanitys need to destroy that which it does not understand.
Puttres characters are engaging and well developed. While technically this is a science fiction novel, the character-driven plot and personal interaction take center stage. Starships, intergalactic travel, high-tech sci-fi weaponry and gadgets
these things are all secondary to the characters that populate the story. Janni is simultaneously a hardened hero and an innocent bystander struggling with situations beyond his control.
Outre Mer is a polished, character-driven space opera with a serious message about the nature of humanity. A highly recommended read for fans of quality science fiction.
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