Star Father


Charlie N. Holmberg


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

May 10, 2022

tar Father is set in the same fantasy world as Holmberg's excellent Star Mother. Once again, the plot centers on a mortal woman who becomes involved with the Sun God. In Star Father, it is Aija who encounters Saiyon, the Sun God. Aija is a young, widowed artist who has returned to live on a farm with her mother, Enera, and her grandmother, Kata. Aija is working in the barn, shoeing their horse, when suddenly all the animals erupt in a frenzied panic. The sky abruptly falls completely dark. There is no sun, no moon, just the twinkling of the stars in the middle of what should be daytime. It seems the incessant, eternal war between the Sun and the Moon has taken a new, drastic turn.

Days of darkness pass (Aija and her family can tell the passage of time by the rising and setting of the moon). The sun does not return. Aija and her family continue to tend to their farm as best they can in the endless darkness; what else can they do? Aija trudges to the river to fill buckets with water, and stumbles across an unconscious man lying on the shore. The injured man is fetched back to their humble farmhouse, and the women attempt to tend to his needs. There is something unusual about this strange man who calls himself Saiyon. The reader will immediately guess that Saiyon is the Sun God himself; it seems to take Aija a long time to catch on that someone who shines with an inner light when he bleeds is not your normal injured stranger. I think Holmberg keeps Aija unsuspecting of Siayon's true identity so that the relationship can develop. Normally, Saiyon is so bright and powerful that no mortal could stand anywhere close to him. But Aija believes she is nurturing just another mortal, and so treats him as a fellow human. Saiyon has never been treated as "just another man" before; throughout his eternal existence, he has always been treated with reverent respect due to his lofty status. Aija finds herself obsessively sketching his portrait, even modeling a bust of Saiyon in clay. Saiyon works on the farm as he recovers, but he never goes outdoors when the moon is in the sky.

When the demigods come looking for their downed king, Aija witnesses their conferences, and realizes that the man she has fallen in love with is none other than the fallen Sun God. But mortals and immortals cannot be together, therefore Aija resolves to become immortal. What follows is a quest across the fantasy landscape, as Aija queries demigods and demons on how to achieve immortality. Ultimately, Aija must confront the Earth Mother and the Moon Goddess herself. It is a well told story, with plenty of harrowing obstacles and setbacks. It is unusual for a fantasy quest novel in that the goal is not a throne or magical talisman, but a goal of true love. Aija has a well drawn personality, determined, courageous and willing to take enormous risks. Her grit and loyalty win her many allies in her dangerous quest.

Is there a sub-genre called romance/fantasy? That is the best description of this novel. Will now Holmberg make it a trilogy and write Star Child? I hope so.