|Cover Artist:||Don Semora|
|Genre:||Christian, Scifi, Survival, Adventure|
|Series:||The Offworld Chronicles|
|Publication Date:||August 2020|
|Media Types:||Print (paperback) and Ebook|
|Preceded By:||The White Mountains|
|Followed By:||Troubled Waters|
Dark Wanderings is the fifth book in The Offworld Chronicles novel series. This book continues the journey of Simon and his indomitable team through the White Mountains on their way to the Great Sea and the numerous, exciting adventures that wait for them there.
Back Cover Blurb
Deadly swamps, treacherous mountains and murderous enemies, more numerous than one can count, danger continually threatens Simon's team from all sides as they continue to press forward through the White Mountain. And the further they go, the darker things become. But, that darkness doesn't fall entirely on them, as changes are unfolding within the Syndicate that threatens to rip it apart from within and bring about positive changes on the tiny planet of Offworld that no one ever expected.
The story starts out with a quick flashback to several months earlier, and what became of Section 9, and why they suddenly went quiet. The story then returns to the present and focuses in on four men, royals by birth, who Garloond, Maggy, Pehkek and Fallon are sent to protect. But this is only a ruse to draw away the eyes of the controllers from whom Weyr Master Zek truly wishes to protect. Eventually they lead the team of four to a village of the Nandar, where the four men are placed into their custody. The ruse finds great success later on when the controllers, thinking they have found the prophesied winners of the race, descend upon them and exterminate not just the four men, but the village as well, for providing protection and comfort to the four men. This, in turn, solves two issues for Zek by getting rid of a problematic village of Nandar, and convincing the controllers that they've won, when they really haven't.
Meanwhile, Simon and his team encounter Meltok who pretends to be nice and personable, but is deep down is very blood thirsty and malevolent. The team doesn't take to him initially, feeling that his actions are meant to harm them (and rightly so). However, in time, after struggling vainly, over and over again, to get through The Deadly Slues, they take him up on his offer. Meltok then leads them out of the worst parts of the swamp, and to a better area that's far easier to travel on. Eventually he leads them deeper into the swamp until they reach The City of Mists, an abandoned human civilization deep in The Deadly Slues that once sat abreast a major trade route that passed through the area, making it incredibly rich at one time as a result.
Once deep inside the City of Mists, Meltok brings the city's mysterious, and mystical mists under his control, and uses them to blind and trap Simon's team. He then sends his gramoots to destroy Simon's team. However, his plans don't go as planned, and Simon's team escapes. However, they are eventually cornered on top of a ziggurat nearby where a tense, pitched battle plays out between Simon's team, and Meltok's gramoots. But, while the battle initially goes in favor of Meltok, despite Simon's team doing a bangup job holding off the gramoots for quite a while, eventually they become overwhelmed by Meltok's minions. But, just when the battle is going badly for Simon's team, Angus shows up with his wolflings and rescues them, destroying all of the gramoots in the city. Meltok, seeing he's defeated, flees the city, only to be exterminated by Maul just beyond its borders as punishment for what he did to Simon's team.
Elsewhere, Susan's team, having taken a break at Renata, struggle to resupply themselves before continuing on. However, they soon run afoul of Chester Westman and his company employees, and are forced to leave the city. However, before they do, they encounter Adam and Martha who take the team to their homestead where three members of the team break off and stay behind to help the prairie couple. In turn Adam and Martha send away Susan's team with fresh horses, and ample supplies for their journey ahead. The team then resumes their journey westward. Behind the scenes elsewhere, Maul Ratinar, the Chief Director, and several other groups either begin, or continue to unfold their individual plans for the race, both good and bad, including Adramelech and his demon brotherhood.
Back in the City of Mists, having been saved by Angus and his wolves, Simon's team are healed of their wounds, courtesy of Fallon, after which they gather up supplies, and then make their way out of the swamp, with Angus acting as their guide. Once there they continue their journey through the White Mountains, stopping briefly in a small Bavarian like village where Lukas takes in their horses and reshoes them, as they need this badly. Over in Trond, Zek finds himself dealing with the return of Section 9, as well as the destruction of the abandoned Mongangro Weyr and the secrets it contained. However, despite this setback, his plans are still on course. Simon's team, meanwhile, has resumed the course, but soon encounters something very curious that they can't quite explain.
While setting up camp they encounter a node that appears to be broke, as it recognizes Yurg as a new racer having just recently joined the course, which is incorrect, nor has he ever had access to the nodes before. Yet now he does. The other soon discover that their profiles are reset and blank. Assuming the node is broke, they take advantage of this new situation, grabbing what they want for free, before moving on. Back in Trond Zek hears that Narond is dying and will soon pass. Word is quickly passed around the entirety of dragon kind, and representatives are sent to represent the other weyrs at his upcoming funeral. Maggy comes to be by her grandfather's side in his last moments, and brings Garloond with her, which ends up causing several awkward moments for both of them, especially with Maggy's mom. Shuman is also made the new Weyr Master in his place. After the funeral Zek swears to Narond that he will see the freedom of Offworld one way or another, even if it kills him.
Simon's team continues their journey through the mountains, encountering one challenge after another until they come across a village near a major navigable river system where they encounter a map maker who sells them a map book to replace their digital Navigator Compass which has recently broken. After this they catch a ride with Pyrinius down the river. However, as they take what seems like an uneventful voyage, they are attacked by Bathremel who sends them crashing over a waterfall, after which he leaves them, thinking they've been killed. Instead, by divine miracle, they all survive, and only the boat is lost. Back in Trond, Zek is notified that Section 9 has begun to reestablish itself, and sends Apoo to monitor them. Simon's team, having survived Bathremel's attempts to kill them, continue on and encounter Thancred and his soldiers from The Demesne of Kaspar. After a brief, but tense encounter, the two go their separate ways.
The team soon reached a village along the trail and stopped briefly to talk with the villagers. However, as they did, soldiers of Kaspar arrived to once more ransack the village for food, resources, and other things, even though the villagers had nothing left. Seeing this, Birash first confronts the soldiers by himself, and takes down several, and is soon joined by Simon, Trevor, and Yurg. The battle is brief, and over half the soldiers are killed. The rest are tied up, and later killed by an angry villager who seeks revenge against them for all they've done. The villagers talk more with Simon's team, and eventually Simon pulls out his bible and leads them to Christ, after which numerous miracles break out, and a wall of angelic soldiers surround and protect the village, preventing any more Kasparian soldiers from entering.
Kaspar sends reinforcements, but they are swiftly defeated by Angus and his wolves, who show up and provide protection to Simon's team, and the village. After being divinely showered with gifts, blessing, and restitution for all that was taken from them, the village encourages Simon and his team to tell the other villages the good news that he'd shared with them. So for over a week after this Simon's team moves from village to village, town to town, sharing the gospel wherever they go. This, however, creates great problems for Kaspar, causing Diebin to dispatch Thancred to find and exterminate Simon's team, and destroy their power over his kingdom.
Having completed their brief missionary tour of Kaspar, Simon's team returns to the trail and begins heading west again only to come up against the impassable shores of The Great Sea where they find themselves trapped, and unable to continue.
Awards and Reviews
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