At the Threshold of the Universe: The Song of Kamaria, Book 3

Book Reviews / Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

By: TA Bruno
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Feathersong, LLC (Self Published)

WARNING: There will be spoilers for In the Orbit of Sirens and On the Winds of Quasars, Books 1& 2. In addition, the review itself is spoiler free. However, after the slideshow at the bottom, I have put in my own epilogue. That will have spoilers.

Content Warning: Shown on Page: Body horror; Violence; Gore. Alluded To: Cannibalism; Child harm; Murder

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“A lump formed in Denton’s throat. He was choked by his own regret, his blood threatening to pop his skull. The shadows that haunted his youth had curled their claws around his son, Cade, and pulled him into the unknown. Cade had been taken right in front of Denton, and there was nothing he could do about it-nothing but go hoarse from screaming as he felt the cold death of hope crash over him. His blood was ice, and his mind was pounding.
Cade was right there. And then he wasn’t.”
TA Bruno, On the Threshold of the Universe

It is here that we begin the conclusion to The Song of Kamaria, with the final book, At the Threshold of the Universe by T.A. Bruno. I have read this series from the beginning, and with each successive book, I not only became more invested in the story, it touched me on a deeply personal level, none more so than this book. It is at its heart brilliant science fiction. However, I always felt that it transcended this core by delving into themes of family, love, loss, friendship, and our relationship to the environment. What makes this series so exceptional is Mr. Bruno’s ability to write science fiction, while seamlessly weaving in all those elements. For me, it became a story of people I came to care for, whom I knew from the start. I remember when Denton and Eliana fell in love, when they desperately searched for their kidnapped children, Cade and Nella, found them, only to lose Cade again. They became friends with the native Auk’nai, only to lose it in the previous book when their god was slain. Now The Undriel are back, threatening humanity once again. To the Auk’nai, it was the humans that, brought all the problems to Kamaria, and they could not even hear The Song of Kamaria. Much has changed in the short amount of time between books. Mr. Bruno’s prose is clear and sharp, and the pacing of this book is excellent.

At the threshold of the Universe picks up right where On the Winds of Quasars ended. Cade and Nella had been found, only for Cade to be taken by the Undriel, while Denton could only watch in horror and helplessness. The Undriel have found Kamaria, and they will wreak the same havoc they did before. Denton’s grief at the loss of his son is palpable, as lived through their atrocities before. They “absorb” people, making them more machine than human, turning them into Undriel soldiers. When we next see Cade, we are given the hope that he escaped the same fate, however, our hope is short-lived. Cade is the vessel for the Siren, Karx and they communicate by thought. Karx said to Cade “…I saved your mind from absorption. But I could not save your body”. While I was hoping it was not true, it was a masterful choice on the part of Mr. Bruno. If Cade had not been absorbed it would not have been realistic. If every other human is absorbed, why would Cade be spared? One advantage he does have as the vessel for the Siren Karx, it allows him to keep his own thoughts, and in doing so can spy on the Undriel to try stop what may be the inevitable destruction of Kamaria. As I said, at its heart it is science fiction, and on that level, Mr. Bruno never disappoints. This book was non-stop action from the first page as the fight with the Undriel rages on. It was edge-of-your-seat action, wondering who would make it out of each battle, and the desperation to find a way to stop them. This is it, and we know it. There is no preparation to leave Kamaria as they did our solar system. You can feel the despair when the soldiers loose a companion, and the thought that are facing an enemy they simply cannot defeat. Denton fights on the front lines with the Marines, as he feels he must get Cade. In Odyesseus City, Elliana researches anything that can help fight the Undriel. As she is strained by her research, and her worry for Denton and Cade, Eliana remembers more peaceful times, when they first came to Kamaria, a time she wished she could go back too:

“For a moment, her mind took her back to the Glimmer Glade, their special place. Eliana and Denton hadn’t been to that grove of trees behind the Castus Machine Shop in years, but in her mind, she could travel through time. She saw the young man he was back then, the night of their first kiss…” TA Bruno, At the Threshold of the Universe

The Undriel are one of the scariest science fiction creations I have encountered. When they absorb a human, the person’s head stays, but the body is transformed into a mechanical monstrosity. Cade’s mechanical body still looked fairly human, but for many, the transformation is more horrific. They are disturbingly unrecognizable metal monsters with the same human heads that become mindless fighting machines. The battle rages on and many are lost, but the Undriel need more. They want to transform all of Kamaria and head straight for Odysseus City. The Auk’nai, have left the and will no longer interact with the humans. Talulo has become their leader, and they leave their former friends to fend for themselves. The Auk’nai clearly have advanced technology, however, what they don’t realize is that they are not safe from the Undriel. They, too, would be absorbed. It is the ultimate goal of the Undriel-their version of paradise. The Auk’nai blame the humans for both the Undriel and the Sirens, when in fact, both were there long before the humans ever came. In their staunch isolation, they have warned the humans not to venture near their settlement. At one point, Talulo gives an order to shoot down a ship that Nella is flying as she ventures too nearby. Elliana is stretched to her breaking point, having lost Cade, her husband is fighting on the front lines, and when she realizes Nella is alive, she is going to go look for her near the Auk’nai. NEVER mess with a mother looking for her child, no matter how old they are. I related so well to Eliana, and especially here:

“…Listen up! I will be going down there to find my daughter. I will go alone to appease your terms. If you try and stop me, I will have the Hells brought down on you and your people. If you hurt Nella again, I will smash you like I crushed Nhymn so long ago. Understand? Do not fuck with me, Talulo.” T.A. Bruno, At the Threshold of the Universe

When the fight finally comes to the city, it is mayhem. Civilians are trying to leave the planet, and the Undriel are trying to stop them, while attacking the military as well and absorbing as many as possible. It was an incredibly written battle. It’s all out war and confusion. Zephyr Gale, Cade’s friend, is there and caught up in the fighting. There are so many twists and turns that come before the battle of Odysseus City. Nothing is ever as it seems and it all took me by surprise. I didn’t see any of it coming. It was pure genius.

Having Cade and Nella as vessels for the sirens was a wonderful part of these last 2 books, but more important in At the Threshold of the Universe. They are given the ability to hear Kamaria’s song. With Sirens, as with the Undriel, nothing is as it seems, suffice to say that they were on Kamaria for a very long time, long before the humans arrived. This made the story come full circle, and completes the arc of the sirens that began in the first book.

I love Mr. Bruno’s writing style. His imagination knows no bounds. Cade is very much the main focus of this book, and with Karx, Cade is able to discern much of what is happening. How this plays out is one of Mr. Bruno’s many surprises. I was left speechless by the twists and turns the plot took. He captures all the feelings of both the humans and the Auk’nai and this threat to Kamaria, the despair of Eliana and Denton, the tired soldiers who still press on, and the determination of the Auk’nai to stay out of human affairs.

“…Part of him wanted to scream out and stop this action from taking place…he felt both regret and resolve in his decision. Talulo looked over the crowd of his people, seeing their excitement at his decisive action..
Talulo looked at the approaching ships.
You brought this on yourselves.
T.A. Bruno, At the Threshold of the Universe

The pacing and prose are excellent. The excitement of the action was also filled with the quiet moments of reflection for the characters. It is not a non-stop battle. There is character development along with the focus on the importance of the Sirens in this final installment. It is a story on two fronts, the Undriel and the Sirens, which Mr. Bruno handles this exceptionally well. It is never confusing when we are taken to battle, and taken to the story line of the Sirens. These plot points are wrapped up so neatly and never rushed. I loved how this story was revealed slowly over the course of the book.

The narrative is told in the third person of Cade, Denton, Eliana, Nella and Talulo. This was little change from the previous books and it was the best choice. Cade is the stand-out character because he is with the Undriel. The added voices of Denton, Eliana, Nella and Talulo are necessary for the plot to proceed outside the Undriel ship. We need to know why the Auk’nai have abandoned the humans, we need to know about the Sirens and what they want, and we need the strength of Denton and Eliana. In many ways, they have been the glue that hold the story together. It is the story of their family and their life on Kamaria, and we need them to lead, no matter how much they are hurting. Through it all, their love for each other and their children shines through.

The Song of Kamaria, The Song of Earth
The creation of Kamaria was always special for me. As an environmental scientist, I do tend to look critically at ecosystems in novels where they are a focal point in the story. They need to make sense to me in terms of the flora and fauna fitting together. Kamaria was a stunningly beautiful place. Mr. Bruno created an entire planet where each organism and each different place felt organic. He truly made believable ecosystems and that is no small feat. I loved it in the first book, and continued to be mesmerized by it through the entire series. All of Kamaria was interconnected, and the idea of the hearing the Song of Kamaria was simply beautiful. At first, only the Auk’nai, the native species could hear the song, then Nella and Cade could hear it as they were the vessels for the Sirens. The Song of Kamaria has ended as this amazing and series has come to its conclusion. Kamaria remains one of my favorite worlds that have I ever read.

I’ve always looked at Kamaria as a mirror to our own planet. As we continue to destroy habitat, and flora and fauna with it, the song of Earth may be coming to an end, and it’s not an end we want. Just as the Auk’nai knew that all things on Kamaria were interconnected, we need to realize it is the same here. Where is the song of Earth? All you have to do is listen. It’s in the wind that blows through the trees, the waves that crash on the beach, the howling of a wolf, the singing birds, the sound of rain and thunder, and so much more. It all sings a special song as it did on Kamaria. Stop, look, and listen.

“…[she] heard something soft in her ears. It was like a woman humming a sweet, soft tune. Gentle, compassionate, and tender. She looked down at the rock in her hand and felt a warmth rush over her. It wasn’t just a sound. It was a feeling. Like the stone was holding her hand.”
“…I knew you could hear it too…”
T.A. Bruno, At the Threshold of the Universe

We can all hear the song. Not all songs have to end.

Overall Thoughts
At the Threshold of the Universe is the perfect ending to the Song of Kamaria series. It was brilliant science fiction, with the Undriel at Kamaria and once again, the human race fighting for its survival. The Auk’nai have retreated to a new home, blaming the humans for all the problems that came to Kamaria. Cade was taken and absorbed, but his mind was free since, as the vessel for the Siren Karx, it prevented it from being absorbed. His autonomy helped him to try and discover any weaknesses within the Undriel. While his body was forever changed, his face and mind remained the same. No matter what he looked like, Cade was always going to be Eliana and Denton’s son, Nella’s brother, and Zephyr’s love. Nella became the vessel for the Siren Sympha, bringing the Siren story full circle to the first book. This was the perfect way to wrap up that story line. The battle between the Undriel and the humans was excellent action, and we learn more and more about exactly who and what they are.  What was so special to me about this series was there were many layers to it, as I always felt it went beyond science fiction. Mr. Bruno told not just a great science fiction story, but his characters leaped off the page. It became a story of family and relationships, love, loss, friendship, how nature affects humans, how we react to it, and what we can learn from those who live in harmony with it. As always, it was science fiction literature at its finest. It is a bittersweet ending to this series. I am going to miss these characters as I have known them from the beginning. It’s like saying goodbye to old friends. As a final note, there are beautiful illustrations throughout the book; one on each chapter and one on each part that separated the book. I loved the contrast of color of the covers, the first two books with a blue cover and this final book a deep red and black. Perhaps the choice of color for At the Threshold of the Universe indicates its somewhat darker tone, and once again the threat that followed them across the universe. The Song of Kamaria is easily among the best science fiction series I have read and I highly recommend it. While The Song of Kamaria has ended with At the Threshold of the Universe, I will always hear its song.

Summary (from Escapist Book Tours)

War ravages Kamaria as an old enemy resurfaces from the depths of the ocean. Offering no support in the coming battles, the Auk’nai isolate themselves in their tightly guarded Nest. Outgunned and outmatched, humanity once again trembles on the edge of obliteration.

The Castus family is torn apart. Denton fights on the front lines, hoping to free Cade from a nightmarish foe. Meanwhile, Eliana and Nella set out on a path that will change everything they understand about the Sirens. The Song will end, but who will remain to hear its final verse?

My sincere thanks to T.A. Bruno for gifting me a copy of the book with a very kind note. Thank you for including me on the cover with a quote from one of my reviews. It means so very much to me. To see my name in the acknowledgments at the end was so touching and I thank you. Thank you for the amazing journey that the The Song of Kamaria was. The song has not ended for me.

My thanks to Escapist Tours for a copy of the eBook.
To learn more about The Song of Kamaria, check out TA Bruno’s website:

Review for In the Orbit of Sirens
Review for On the Winds of Quasars
Purchase the books on Amazon: In the Orbit of Sirens; On the Winds of Quasars; At the Threshold of the Universe

Epilogue to the Series
It is perhaps the epilogue that touched me so deeply and I was sobbing at the end. Not teary eyed, I was really crying-a lot. I could write and entire post on this epilogue alone. I still cannot read it without crying.
It is 500 years later and we see Cade walking Kamaria barefoot, with his daunoren staff. Because of his absorption, he became a human-Undriel hybrid. In that process, he was made immortal, just like all the other hybrids they saved. Using advanced technology, they were able to craft human bodies for them that felt everything, but they still remained immortal. Many of the hybrids left Kamaria, but Cade stayed with his family. He is now preparing to leave Kamaria through a portal discovered in the Siren ruins. Long ago, Talulo decided the portal would be one-way. If you leave, you can never return to Kamaria, and what lies on the other side is unknown. It is Cade’s time to take his next journey. He thinks of Zephyr, the woman he loved and adopted children with. He could not age, but he spent his years with her, and he carries her love with him. Eliana and Denton lived a long peaceful life, Eliana passing first. It was perhaps Denton’s passing that touched me the most. He laid in a field with Cade and Nella on each side watching the clouds pass by. They watched him peacefully take his last breath. He carries them with him. Cade was not with Nella when she passed, but he felt it. She had married her childhood friend Jun and had children of her own. He felt her passing and carries her with him. While death would not come for Cade, he was glad that “death was gentle to them all”. He watched the generations pass, as he himself faded away, and he became a distant memory. Some of the family left Kamaria, others stayed. Now it was his time.
It was incredibly beautiful and touching. I thought of all those I had lost and what they represented to me. I always say that those we love and lost never truly leave us. We carry them with us, safe in our hearts and in our memories. When Cade gets ready to pass through the portal, he felt Zephyr, she was his love, Nella was his spirit, and his parents were his strength. His family and friends he felt, too, and he carried them with him.
I thought about who I carry with me. I thought of my father, how much I loved him, and his sharp wit and sense of humor. He is my humor and love, and I carry him with me. And I cried. I thought of my nephew, taken too soon, and who battled illness his whole life. He is my bravery, and I carry him with me. And I cried. I thought of my grandfather, the kindest, gentlest soul I know. He is my kindness, and I carry him with me. And I cried. I thought of my dear friend who loved nature, also taken too soon. She is my connection to the Earth, and I carry her with me. And I cried. I thought of my grandmother, who passed away from Alzheimer’s. Death was not kind, but she was a strong woman. She is my strength, and I carry her with me. And I cried.  I thought of all those I loved and lost and I know that I carry them all with me. They have all left me a gift of having known them, the best gift of all.

As Cade stepped over the threshold of the portal, not knowing what lay ahead, he had all those he carried with him to help him on his next journey. Every day for us is like a new portal. We don’t know what lies ahead, but we can draw strength from those we love, past and present. Our own journey, like Cades, will be all the better for those who touched our life.  

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