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Phantom ULTRA By Kenton E.H. Ward

Genre: Sci-Fi / Thriller

Reviewed by Maxwell Gillmer


A wild ride of action, suspense, and social commentary

The year is 2998, the universe is vast, and technology has advanced to a point beyond which one could possibly dream, but this futuristic world where life spreads across the Milky Way shares an eerie similarity to the oppression of the past. It’s been over a decade since the Imperial Civil War ended, leading to the abolition of slavery and the near eradication of the pro-slavery rebel group called the Freedom Federation, and Tommy Cade is searching for peace.


Formerly a member of the Imperial Authority’s elite special force, Tommy has amassed a fortune by becoming a contracted hunter of fiery stone monsters called golems—a profession dubbed a mason—and made a name for himself. However, life after the war is not easy for Tommy. Plagued by visceral flashbacks of a deadly Civil War battle on the planet Phantom, Tommy finds himself losing control to the trauma of the past and hurting those around him. Whatever it is that happened on that bloody day possesses him…almost like an alien entity.

After years of golem hunting, Tommy’s condition has worsened. He puts down his high-tech weapons and tungsten-stitched protective suits and retires from fighting. But Tommy’s life is flipped upside down when a mysterious man named Ward threatens Tommy with an ultimatum: either Tommy takes on another job and hunts down the most dangerous golem of his career or Ward will expose Tommy for crimes of treasons he had no choice but to commit during that brutal battle on Phantom. Tommy has no choice but to embark on this deadly mission. As he does, he draws closer to the truth of what from that mysterious planet still haunts him.

Phantom ULTRA is an action-packed quest through the Milky Way with such attention to detail you can’t help but be enraptured. Kenton E. H. Ward brings shape to this futuristic world by shaping the processes and technologies available to its characters with striking regard. Ward’s language offers a technical foundation for the possibilities of this universe. Such a force of imagery immerses the reader in the world, placing them on the frontlines of the action. Ward doesn’t ask the reader to suspend disbelief; Ward makes the reader believe.

Ward’s control of prose goes beyond that of the supply of technical illustrations and provides a contemplative basis for the universe and society of this world. Ward frequently references physics, such as the mention of the classical mechanics conundrum of the three-body problem and quantum tunneling akin to seminal sci-fi authors such as Liu Cixin.


For all of its description of technology and science, Ward never sacrifices prose. The control over the sentence is gripping, laying the groundwork for poignant commentary on race and mixed identities in a blended fashion, elevating the text to a level of analysis that reminds me of Octavia Butler. Ward discusses the complexity of race and the horrors stemming from the exploitation of people through references to slavery and metaphors of viruses. Ward brings the past into the future, leaving the reader contemplating the present.

Phantom ULTRA is not for the faint of heart. At times it can be quite violent, but not to any fault. Its bodily imagery of violence imbues a sense of corporeality that grounds the story. The novel shifts from the intense to the tender to the reflective to the scientific and back to the intense in such an engaging and fast-paced manner that I couldn’t put the book down.

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