The time and place
I assume from the author’s blog that it’s our future, and the place is deep space on several radical ships and less awesome planets.
The suspension of disbelief
There are various humanoid races. Space travel exists, and spaceships have combat capability. There’s all sorts of cool technology around that I won’t spoil.
The quick summary
Sair’s been a tribute slave to another race since before adolescence. He manages to escape the palace where he serves, but needs a way offworld. He finds a beautiful prototype ship and convinces the captain, Drea Mennelsohn, to take him aboard and drop him off somewhere safer. As he grows more fascinated with Drea, he finds that she and her mission are more complicated than he could have guessed. Together they could change the fate of known space.
Our couple make sympathetic rebels against the evil Empire. Sair is grieving. Learning to let go is never easy, and just because he likes, wants, and is grateful to Drea, they can’t commit until he releases his guilt. This is handled in a way that feels natural and relatable, even if I don’t know anyone whose losses are as awful as his. He wants to do right by the people he feels he left behind and those he cares about. I would treasure a friendship with him. Drea is a fascinating character. She has a disability that many potential partners would blanch at, but she makes the most of her limited life. That Sair is willing to work through it even though he thinks it’s difficult speaks well of him. I would love to pick her brain. The way she experiences events and space must be breathtaking, even if she finds it lonely. She bears a complicated burden, so wanting something for herself is rather risky.
The ship’s functionality and technology are introduced gradually. We learn about the Specter’s combat systems and cool features as they’re used, so it does not feel overwhelming and we can savor each nifty invention. There’s a scene about droids mating that I would have blushed at, were I physically capable. I didn’t know inorganic interactions could be that hot.
The epilogue ties up all the loose ends a reader wants to know about. Everyone gets what they deserve.
Drea and Sair are immediately attracted to each other, and as soon as she sees him she knows she’s going to take him on her ship. Uh, why? Because she felt a spark? Fate? The story is told from Sair’s perspective, though we get some of Drea’s at the end of the book. He finds her helpful and attractive, she does unprecedented things regarding him just from a first meeting. It seems impulsive and at odds with the rest of her behavior.
Drea has a brother named Ry? What was their father thinking? Dreary?
I enjoy learning new terms as they fit into a world, especially when they are not things I have names for now: spectro-drones, neuraltron, microcell. However, I am confused why there are new terms for units of time in this book: calendars, haras, tempas. If they are just years, hours, and minutes, using a new term makes me have to exert effort to stay immersed in the book. I assume everything’s being translated to English from several alien tongues for our benefit, so why weren’t the words for units of time translated as well? If they are different concepts, I’d like to know how they differ. The most disruptive word for me, though, is ‘gerabunga.’ It makes me think of heroes in a half shell, breaking my reading trance. That it’s the last word of the book following an emotional scene feels disorienting.
Read if you
- Are curious about neural interfacing involving spacecraft and geek out over fighter jets and the like
- Want the tortured hero’s perspective
- Like your space opera vast and sweeping
Skip if you
- Can’t stand dead baby jokes- there are dingoes in this book
- Avoid fictional situations involving sexual slavery
- Find instant attraction infuriating
Disclosure and final thoughts
I won this book in a raffle, but review it unsolicited. It’s available as a three-part serial, but I prefer to read complete books. I found several aspects of the world and characters to be original and fresh, and the author surprised me more than once.
Author site: http://www.laurieagreen.com