by STK Chan

Fighting what we\’ve become.
An ancient dimension of dark echoes from the past.

Lisa and her family barely manage to escape an invasion from the Rebel army in their home of Malta. Shortly after this episode, she discovers Exo, the ancient dimension she cannot understand until her late 20s. Exo is made of memories of the past; it brings forth all the strong echoes we leave behind. Lisa desperately wants to resolve the conflicts of this inner world peacefully, but quickly learns she must fight the shadows in people\’s hearts, materialized through battle re-enactments, warfare and emotional turmoil.

Soon the windows revealed smaller buildings and less crowded streets. The train grew emptier too. Lisa heard the monotonous hum of the wheels more clearly; it slowed her heartbeat down to a peaceful pace. In a flash, as she had done many times before, she crossed into what she believed to be a dreaming state of mind.

A dense forest surrounded her. It was cold, and patches of snow covered the ground.

It feels so real… But I wanted a nice view of wild, untamed mountains. And a waterfall. And why can’t I better control the season or the clothes I’m wearing? Lisa wondered, shivering a little. There! She finally spotted an exit from the curtain of trees.

Below, a large lake covered with floating sheets of ice lay at her feet. She was indeed on a mountain. The fresh air was freezing, but she breathed it in eagerly, ignoring the abundant vapors of her warm breath.

What could this resemble? Canada? Alaska? Lisa had learned that, by focusing very deeply with closed eyes, she could sometimes change her clothing or some of the details around her.

This time, only a long scarf appeared on her shoulders after she opened her eyes. “Not enough,” she said, shivering, but proceeded to walk along the cliff regardless. Minutes later, she stopped to take a better look into the distance. A boat? I don’t want to come across any other people this time…Ah, it’s just a log. She could not stand the cold any longer, so she thought about getting back.

Greg raised an eyebrow when he noticed her repeated blinking.

“Your lucid dreams again?”

Lisa nodded in confession.

“Where did you go this time?”

“Far…far from these many babylons.”

“Just another reason why we are a perfect match.” He smiled.

“They are so real. And they feel so long, though they really last just a fraction of a second.”

“Do you meet any people in there?”

“Yes, but I avoid them. It scares me to death how intense and unpredictable they are. Last week I met a tribe in Africa and before that I was in the middle of a medieval city.”

“Lucky you,” said Greg. “It’s a strange yet blissful anomaly, to escape reality like that.”

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This book had a lot of interesting elements. Time travel, shamans, a protagonist who travels to outer space—there was no shortage of remarkable things happening here.

I want to say this wowed me and that I was drawn in to the many time periods and concepts traversed in this book. Rather, I am walking away feeling confused and like there was something in this story that stayed just outside my reach. Lisa, our main character, found herself able to enter a sort of dream state after a traumatic event in her childhood. In her late twenties, she learns this dream state is the result of her shaman status and that she can stop evils from different time periods in Earth’s timeline. This leads to many action scenes and many discussions on inner truth vs. external understanding. It was all very fascinating but felt inaccessible to those who aren’t already well-versed in advanced shamanistic teachings.

Away from Lisa’s shaman world (called Exo), she leads a physical life that I felt didn’t really meld with the shaman side until the very very end. She is a scientist in real life, and again, the science felt like it was beyond the average person’s understanding.

There are many, many characters, and the POV jumps between them at will. This made following the story tough. Even more, it made connecting with the characters difficult. Most of the story seemed to be Lisa, but even so, she never felt fully fleshed out. Getting little glimpses into the thought processes of so many others left me feeling like I’d been introduced to too many people at a party.

Overall, I think this book has a lot to offer but not necessarily for everyone. I spent most of my time confused. When I wasn’t confused, there were some truly visionary things happening, and the book gives some fantastic commentary on different time periods. Perhaps I needed to be in a different mindset to fully understand this. Nevertheless, I think those who want a book they can read over time and really ponder would enjoy this.


A fan of nourishing SF&F fiction. Seeker of essential truths in historical non-fiction. Exploring life for almost half a century. Delivering action and matters of the inner self. \”Chan has license to be more philosophical and issue-oriented, and on the whole he blends together different genres well.\” (John Staughton, SPR)

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