SENTINELS – Stellarax
By Van Allen Plexico
White Rocket Books
When Van Allen Plexico first introduced us to the world of the Sentinels way back in book number one “When Strikes The Warlord,” I doubt any of us had a clue what a wild ride he was about to take us all on. And before we get too deeply into this review, here’s a fact you need to be aware of; “Sentinels – Stellarax” is the sixth book in a series and yes, it is necessary to have read the first five to both understand and enjoy this book. So those of you who have not read those earlier books, you may want to forego this review altogether. But again, be forewarned, I am about to rant and rave about how much fun this volume is and you may find yourself tempted to dig into your piggy banks and go out and buy those other five books. As well you should.
Don’t get me wrong here, continuing series have been a part of science fiction since it first appeared back in the early days of the pulps. E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman series comes to mind immediately, then there was Asimov’s Foundation books, Richard Adams Horseclan Saga and most recently, Peter David’s New Frontier Star Trek paperbacks. All of them series, all of them dependent on readers starting from the beginning to keep abreast of each new chapter and plot evolution. The Sentinels is no different than those classics and honestly just as imaginative and wonderful.
Plexico’s conceit was to take the super heroics he had found as a child in comic books and bring that same wild and crazy out-of-this-world action to prose. That he does so effortlessly is evidence of his genuine skills as a writer and with each new book he delivers, he only gets better.
Now for you loyal readers who have been following along, you are well aware that when we left our merry band of Earth super-heroes and their alien allies, they were assembled on a massive platform in orbit over the planet Earth as it was being confronted by four of the most powerful entities in the universe, known as the Rivals. Each of these god-like beings had similar twin goals, to vanquish the other three and conquer the Earth. It was up to our gang of heroes to defeat them and save the day. It was the cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers and I could not wait to dig into this, the final book of this second overriding story arc to see what happened next.
Led by genius industrial inventor, Esro Brachis, the Sentinels include Pulsar, a lovely young woman Asian American with amazing powers, Captain Mondrian, a tall, red-skinned alien member of the Elite Kur-Bai Starfleet, Shiva, a one time British agent now the embodiment of the Hindu god wielding a Trident of Destruction and a teen boy who has inherited the powerful golden armor of a Star Knight. Of course there are other members of the cast, but for the most part these are the focus of this adventure and how they manage to outwit the overwhelming superiority of the four Rivals is simply ingenious and a joy to behold. Plexico’s ability to keep the action moving at hyper-speed while every so often offering up an important flashback sequence is akin the juggler hurling a half-dozen chainsaws over his head. One slip…and oops, the end. That he continues to keep every character in place at the same time answering questions posed in the early books is simply fantastic.
From unstoppable blue foam known as the Blight that consumes everything in its path to space born zombies raining down on the Earth, “Sentinels – Stellarax” is action packed. It is easily the best book in the series and that’s no small achievement. When any reader invest so much time with such a continuing saga, there is a natural expectation that the pay-offs at the end had better to be spectacular. Plexico delivers nothing less each and every time. I, for one, can’t wait for the next one. Long live the Sentinels!