The Seventh Guard

Destiny Expires

Fiction - Science Fiction
338 Pages
Reviewed on 08/14/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Francis is a native Oregonian. He currently lives in the Northwest Hills of Portland with his wife and three children. The family often spends time on the Oregon Coast in the small town of Manzanita, where they can sometimes be found browsing the book shelves of the local Cloud & Leaf Bookstore or hiking the trail to Neahkahnie Mountain. He has been a fan of science fiction from a young age and enjoys reading fast-paced, suspenseful thrillers of different genres.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

Twenty-five-year-old Robert has a hard time keeping his job at Best Buy, Portland, Oregon, and he hasn’t changed his job role since he started with the company — staying as a repair agent and working in the back room, removing various forms of malware from computers — because of his lack of people skills. He is not just good at talking to people. Even when his friend, David, visits, Robert has to think if David is welcome or not and brings out his timer, ready to unceremoniously send his friend away when their time is up. In The Seventh Guard: Destiny Expires, a man who seems to live on the edge of reality, without fully getting involved, decides to write a harmless program and install it on 100 of the computers he’s repaired. This is just the beginning of a path fraught with danger and a powerful adversary that will make Robert question everything he’s ever believed in, a journey that will test him beyond limits.

Francis Halpin’s story is one of an unusual character following a message that takes him on an adventure filled with danger. This is a compelling tale with one of the best characters I have read in science fiction. The author creates a profile of the protagonist, a man who is very intelligent, but who feels more connected with the computers he works with than with his girlfriend, Jennifer, who strangely seems to cherish his “sharp sense of humor.” The writing is beautiful, the humor filling the pages, and the suspense skillfully designed to keep the reader’s attention from one engaging page to the next. From the very first page, one notices something strange about the protagonist — a loner, but one who is extremely gifted. The elegant prose grabs your attention from the first page, thanks to its fluidity. Robert is a character you can’t ignore. He is unique and seems not to care about it. He is a risk taker who creates a sense of excitement in readers who watch him doing what he knows best. The Seventh Guard: Destiny Expires is utterly entertaining, one of the few books with an irresistible narrative voice and a strong setting.

Charles Remington

Destiny Expires by Francis Halpin is the first book in a new series entitled The Seventh Guard. The action in this first volume is concentrated mainly in and around Portland, Oregon, with the central character Robert, who could be described as a geek, in low-level employment as a computer repair technician. Robert is unfulfilled by his work and is intellectually capable of much more. This leads him to run complex behavioural experiments on unsuspecting clients and even his few friends, who are not at all amused by his ‘research’.

But his experiments take a sinister turn when he becomes fascinated by the strobe-like flashing of a faulty neon strip light and he starts to record the pulses in an effort to discover whether there is a pattern or sequence buried in the seemingly random discharges. Thus commences a series of increasingly weird results and menacing events where Robert finds his very life at risk; a life that he starts to realise is not as simple as he had believed, a life with parallels far beyond his work as a computer technician. But dark forces are at work and in the murky, unpredictable narrative, it is difficult to know whether Robert can discover his own powers and prevail against those ranged against him.

Destiny Expires is relatively straightforward science fiction of the terrestrial, Twilight Zone kind; the hero a fairly normal guy who finds powerful alien forces ranged against him and has to struggle to survive. The narrative may be a little overlong with several puzzling plot departures which may be further explained in later volumes of the series. Robert is not very endearing as a character, being selfish, sarcastic and totally self-absorbed. Some of his antics border on lunacy but this is deliberate and to some extent essential to the plot. A worthy addition to the sci-fi genre and I am sure we will hear more of Mr Francis Halpin.

K.C. Finn

The Seventh Guard: Destiny Expires is a science fiction novel for adults by author Francis Halpin. Our central character is Robert Lowden, and when we first meet him he has alienated himself from virtually all of his friends and acquaintances by conducting strange experiments with frequency and time. He works for Best Buy, but Robert knows it isn’t his destiny, and the more he experiments with the patterns of the world, the closer he gets to discovering something incredible. The concept of fate and destiny comes to the fore as Robert embarks on a mission to find out if what he has uncovered is true, and dark forces also rise to put a stop to his discovery, and his life.

For me, the strongest element of The Seventh Guard: Destiny Expires was the commitment to character development. Although I didn’t like Robert’s personality, his persona was fully formed and he leapt from the page like a real person. His journey through the novel was also very intriguing, though I did feel that the central mysteries and patterns of the novel needed more explanation in places to save you rereading for it to make sense. That said, hard-boiled fans of science fiction are certain to delve into Francis Halpin’s conceptual and puzzling novel with delight, and will certainly be satisfied with the story as a whole. The writing style was flawless and easy to read. Overall, The Seventh Guard: Destiny Expires is recommended for serious sci-fi fans who enjoy acerbic heroes and complex, brain-teasing plots.

Peggy Jo Wipf

In Francis Halpin's The Seventh Guard: Destiny Expires, Robert Lowden is an introverted Best Buys employee who is only allowed to work with computers, not the publlic. He cannot understand people who lack common computer knowledge and uses their computers to run his own experiments. Unknown to him, his experiments actually lead him to discover who he really is and his initial job. He finds adventure around every corner, his life is threatened multiple times, and he has two people in his life who would do anything for him. With the backing of his best friend, David, Robert begins to unravel codes from a flickering bathroom light. His eccentric behavior has people doubting him as he can see and hear people no one else can. That is until they also lose command of their thoughts and actions, making them act in a unusual manner.

Francis Halpin adds a unique twist to this alien thriller, giving it an unusual ending that left me amazed at how different this story is for the sci-fi genre. Most of us can relate to Robert's awkward mannerisms and inability to communicate well with others, making this story humorous as it reminds us of our own mishaps. The author's theory of codes sent over flashing lights is very creative and well thought out, and I will remember this novel every time I see flickering fluorescent lights. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this alien thriller and loved the main character, though how he demonstrated that ultimate power over another person is a dangerous ability. The Seventh Guard: Destiny Expires will be a great delight for those interested in extraterrestrial beings.

K.J. Simmill

Robert was a repair technician at Best Buy, one who had hung on to his job solely because he was so good at repairing things. His social skills, however, were indeed lacking, to the point he was banned from customer interaction. After work he conducted his own experiments, determined to break reality by discovering a hidden glitch. Then he saw it, or more accurately the program he created did, small breaks in the physical laws of our world. It was a message, of that he was certain, but he had no idea how dangerous breaking this encryption would be. His entire perspective on the world, on what was possible, was about to change. If Jennifer's step-father wasn't dangerous enough, he was about to discover a new enemy, one who was more powerful than he could ever imagine, one who would stop at nothing to see his demise.

The Seventh Guard: Destiny Expires by Francis Halpin is an intriguing science fiction story focusing on the main character, Robert, as he tries to unravel his destiny. It all started with a flickering light, a cryptic clue he felt he must interpret. The Seventh Guard unfolds at a steady pace in a narrative written with such style that you keep turning the pages. You can't help but be drawn into Robert's plight, wondering if there is a greater destiny afoot, or if the flickering light is simply unlocking something in - what his girlfriend described as - his 'on the spectrum' personality. Robert is a strong lead character supported by David and Jennifer in their supporting roles, which help to build a fuller picture of him, his life, and the world around him. Intrigue, a quest for truth, and hidden mysteries fill the book to the brim, and leave you wondering what the ultimate conclusion will be.