While the abilities and bonds of the Clan were very different from what
I’ve seen before, the story itself didn’t entrance me. I found the idea
of the amnesiac who gets lost was not done as well as
similar journeys I’ve read, especially when she starts to fall for the
stranger who gets her off the planet. Having read the very vivid and
original Stratification series, I understood right from the start what a
Chooser was, and even what the stratification represented. It’s amazing
how many little details were given in an original middle trilogy hinting
at a rich history. Unfortunately, the bond between Morgan and Sira
wasn’t strong enough to be engaging, and their travels around the galaxy
didn’t hold my interest. The author can describe very alien settings,
with my favorite being the shopping orbital platform, and well-developed
ancillary characters, especially Huido, as well as the culture of the
Clan. I hope I wasn’t spoiled by the earlier series. The politics that
reared up more than halfway through was a little more interesting, and
should give more depth to this universe. The revelation wasn’t too
surprising, with a predictable escape attempt, which kept the book at a
mid-level of interest.
While the book was written many years before
Reap the Wild Wind, it’s
clear that the author knew many details about the earlier race that the
Clan came from. The idea that hundreds of people from an unknown
homeworld appeared in the Trade Pact suddenly one day, and stayed
separate from it because of their connection to the M’hir and their
unique physiology, is apparent in this first book. The idea of a
Chooser, who used to have actual choice in Reap the Wild Wind, has
become one of decree by the Council, such that increasing power is
concentrated in a decreasing number of people. And so Sira di Sarc’s
plan came into effect. Of course it doesn’t go as expected.
book starts with Sira and Barac getting attacked while traveling, and
are separated. Sira doesn’t know who she is, but Barac does, and when he
can’t find her, because her mind is shielded, he goes to Morgan, a pilot
he knows, and asks the man to look for her. Morgan has his own ideas,
and doesn’t necessarily think that Barac has Sira’s best intentions at
heart. So when he picks her up and hides her from the slavers, he
doesn’t turn her over to the Clan, as Barac intended.
memories flash into her mind a little at a time, but it doesn’t make for
an effective mystery because the author is more interested in developing
their non-love story. Although Sira offers herself to Morgan, Choosing
him without even knowing what she’s doing, he is able to refuse, and she
begins to doubt her inner voice, the one left by her own self, which had
the intention of releasing her power into a human.
how to operate a starship while Morgan doesn’t seem to think about the
Clan at all for a good while, except to try and keep her safe. The bond
is developing at a very slow pace, and while the story never gets
boring, it barely held my interest for most of this. When Morgan is taken
captive for double-crossing a customer, she goes in and saves him, not
knowing what she’s doing. Honestly, this part of the book was awkward and confusing. I think it served to show that Spacers stick
together, and gave Sira control of the ship for a while.
when they get to the giant shopping orbital (intended as a mining
complex in too much exposition), Sira decides to leave Morgan. When a
Clan member recognises her and disappears (traveling through the M’hir),
Morgan persuades her to go into hiding with him. They take refuge with
the giant Huido, a fun alien who was distinctly alien. This is something
this author does very well –create aliens who are not stock Star Trek or
Star Wars. They have alien physiologies and mentalities, though they are
close enough to us to form a trade federation.
While Morgan is
able to break through one of the blocks in Sira’s mind, her family is
searching for her, appearing through the M’hir in ghost form. A
detective has also caught up with them, but a little too late, as Sira
has been spooked and leaves. She makes it partway to their ship until
she realizes she’s being followed, and is captured once again by the
slaver. We don’t find out until later that the slaver is working in
concert with Sira’s father and the ruthless renegade Yihtor.
slaver ship is impounded, but rips part of the station apart to get
away, and is sabotaged such that when he is killed, it is locked on a
heading to Yihtor. Their departure in escape pods lands them on a
densely covered planet, with huge plants that provide shade and
nutrients. This is where Sira learns of her power. Transported through
the M’hir, she leaves Morgan and joins her sister Rael, this time in
real body. They talk, but Sira doesn’t believe what Rael says about her
When she returns, Morgan is gone, having been captured
by Yihtor’s people. Huido helps her rescue him, but she is captured
instead, having pushed Huido and Morgan through the M’hir back to his
starship. Yihtor knows who Sira is, as well as her powerful abilities.
He uses a drug to prevent her from going through the M’hir, and plans to
force her to carry his offspring. She’s begun to change into a woman,
now that she’s given her Choice to Morgan, at least partially. During
the union celebration, she brings him to the M’hir, the way any joining
would, but she traps him there.
All of this was fairly standard
plotting, and Sira’s amnesia didn’t work as well for me compared to, for
example, Nika of Exin Ex Machina. Her recovery, or lack thereof, with a
new personality taking over and dominating the old one isn’t written as
well as others in a similar vein. Up to this point, while I recognized
the symptoms of the old Om’rey joining, and especially Aryl’s incredible
power back in Rift in the Sky, the story wasn’t more than mechanical for
me. There lacked any emotion to cement the bond between Sira and Morgan.
Even though they were growing closer, they both remained so detached,
such that they had very little chemistry together.
were written in an interesting way, with Sira taking up the main point
of view from a first person, and Interludes told from the third person,
giving the readers more information about Barac’s search for his missing
charge, Bowman’s investigation, Morgan’s interactions, and a couple of
other small details external to Sira’s experience. I was more invested
in the third person activities, which was disappointing, because I think
Sira’s point of view should have carried more emotion.
end, she’s brought back home by her sister Rael and cousin Barac, where
they discover it was Sira’s idea to choose Morgan, a human telepath, to
release her power, even though it could kill him. The new Sira is of
course horrified, but the Council is very interested in what happened,
because Sira was too strong for any male of the Clan, so there was no
way for her to breed, and they wanted the power more than anything. They
end up just like Yihtor, willing to use her changed body without
restoring her memories if necessary.
But Morgan returns after
she escapes the Council (thanks to her father), and they are forced to
come together for the joining. Morgan, being a powerful human telepath
and having shared the M’hir with Sira before, not only survives, but
Sira gives him the power to experience the M’hir. I’m not clear if she
retained any of her power, but the Council is horrified at what she’s
created, and I assume she’s retained part of it.
Where this goes
from here, I can’t say. There is still a lot of mystery left, which I’m
interested in learning in the next several books.