Righteous Anger.


320 pages
ISBN 978-1-894063-38-4
DDC C813'.54




Translated by √Člisabeth Vonarburg and Howard Scott
Reviewed by Douglas Barbour

Douglas Barbour is a professor of English at the University of Alberta.
He is the author of Lyric/anti-lyric : Essays on Contemporary Poetry,
Breath Takes, and Fragmenting Body Etc.


Righteous Anger is part of Lynda Williams’s Okal Rel Saga, a huge epic science fantasy set in a fully developed far future galactic empire, whose feudal aspects are all grounded in scientific speculation. Its story, of a young man whose sense of honour rises above all other personal demands, occurs in tandem with much of the action of the first volume, The Courtesan Prince.


The saga is grounded in a future history of faster-than-light travel in which an Earth corporation, Self-Evolved Ltd., created super pilots. Eventually, some renegades started a new colony, Gelion, where these Sevolites rule in a neo-feudal culture.


Righteous Anger explores rivalries within Sevolite culture. Its continuing existence depends on Okal Rel, “a religion … that helps the Sevolites avoid wars of mass destruction through ritual warfare called Sword Law.” The lords of Sevolite culture, genetically superior to ordinary humans, given to pride and quick anger, need the rituals of challenge by sword to maintain a special kind of peace in a society that uses both interstellar spacecraft and human servants.


At the beginning of Righteous Anger, the liege of House Nersal, Hangst, agrees to marry a daughter of the Nesak leader in order to seal a peace between the two sides of this house. Their third son, Horst, turns out to be a born swordmaster and pilot, but is also almost inarticulate, especially in the highly developed intricacies of Court Speech. He nevertheless demonstrates by his actions, often taken against people close to him, that he has a highly developed sense of Okal Rel. How this eventually leads him to do battle with his own house is the taut narrative burden of this novel.


Williams has chosen a difficult narrative task in making such a silent figure the protagonist of Righteous Anger. But, of course, there are many other all-too-talkative characters, and they help to complicate and further the development of her future cultures. In the end, she has constructed another entertaining interstellar thriller. Righteous Anger definitely whets the reader’s appetite for the rest of the Okal Rel Saga.


Williams, Lynda., “Righteous Anger.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/26881.