A short story about returning home. A young TigerWolf is abducted as a child and grows up far from his home as a slave, a gladiator, and eventually as a free person. Only to find themselves somehow transported across the planet to where he came from. Having been gone for more than 30 years, he quickly finds it impossible to hide who he was as he meets again his brother, sister, and parents, and discovers that what transported him there was something he didn’t want to believe existed.
I was first introduced to D. C. Ballard’s works through another one he’s working on, called “Chaos Fountain“. I semi-expected this one to be part of the same story arc, so was surprised when it wasn’t. However, the expectations of a fun, well written, vibrant story were not only met, they were met with flying colors.
Despite this being a shorter story, D. C. Ballard does a wonderful job building up an immersive experience for the world the story is set in. From the physical aspects to the political – each piece is deftly woven together to make the world come alive.
The characters, from the main through the “extras” who help provide hints about the structure of the world all have a depth of realism uncommon for stories that come in under novel length. Even though the main character’s disbelief can feel a touch grating at times, that disbelief never feels forced or unnatural. As the back story develops, each of the encountered, named characters adds another layer to who they are. It is an interesting mix of surface and depth which makes getting to know them an interesting journey.
The one place this story falls a tad short – more due to length, than anything else – is in the pacing. Nothing feels rushed or too slow, yet by the end, there remains as many unanswered questions as answered. Almost as if the story’s not finished. (And, it very well could continue at a later date.)
Despite the pacing glitch, I’m more than happy to give this one a full 5 of 5 stars. It’s an interesting mix of sci-fi and fantasy with a series of unique races and species. (OK, and I may be a bit biased – I love the author’s other works that I’ve read.) While short, with an ending that’s not complete, I still highly recommend this to anyone looking to add a new author to their favorites.
If you’d like to read for yourself, head on over to Royal Road Here to read Homecoming for free. (Not sure if it’ll be there permanently.)