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The Light-years Beneath My Feet by Alan Dean Foster
Review by Jeffrey Lyons
Del Rey Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 0345461282
Date: 28 June, 2005 List Price $23.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Our hapless quartet of misfits returns to new adventures in The Light Years Beneath My Feet, book two of Alan Dean Foster's Taken Trilogy. As the book begins Marc, a human, George, a talking dog, Sque, a rubbery, tentacled egotist, and Braouk, a rock like monster that sprouts poetry are living in luxury having recently escaped the clutches of a slave-trading race called the Vilenjji. Luckily for them, a kindly pacifist group of Sessrimathenn gleefully answers their beckoning call making it quite difficult to leave.

Marc, out of boredom, takes up cooking with succulent results. A visiting delegation of Niyyuu is so impressed they immediately offer Marc a prestigious cooking position on their home planet of Niyu. He agrees on the condition that he can take his less than willing fellow captives and friends. Ultimately they agree because it is their desire to go home and Niyu might just offer them that opportunity.

It turns out that several regions of Niyu are embroiled in a war covered greedily by the local media. It becomes increasingly clear that Marc's cooking is so fabulous, the Niyyuu drag their heels or fingers or something about seeking out the coordinates of their home worlds. In a sense they are captives again. That is until Marc hatches an elaborate plan with a power-hungry general to expand the war in such a way that it benefits him and his friends' quest to get home.

And all of this is accomplished in less than 250 pages!

Like the first book, this is to be taken with a grain of salt. It is meant to have a sense of humor. I didn't fall down laughing but I got plenty of chuckles out of bizarre predicament these characters find themselves in.

On the other hand Foster's characters make occasional commentary on the media and its war coverage, which is something we've all been exposed to with embedded reporters in Iraq and instantaneous information. While it's not the meat of the plot it definitely plays a role in the way the characters make decisions to bring the book to a conclusion.

The ending is left wide open so to provide plenty of room to grow when the third book is published. And the evil Vilenjji chase their cargo in the shadows suggesting that they will not let our heroes get away without a chase.

It's slick, creative, and amusing and a great follow-up to last year's Lost and Found. You can read this one without reading the first one but it is helpful to get the first one under your belt. Each of the characters has their own individuality about them. That?s all set up in the first book and they become well rounded in this one.

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