Caer’s breath hissed between his teeth. For some reason he had assumed that offworlders would be frail, with weak, puny bodies. From all he had heard they were feeble, using machines they had invented to do the work of their muscles. But this one was strong and his body was built like any ordinary man. His flesh carried several old scars and his muscles were clean and compact beneath the skin. The thought struck him that this man would fetch a fortune in the Alfor slave pens. The castellans would be scrambling over each other to purchase something so rare and exotic as a genuine offworlder.
“See, he is a fighter, Captain. This and this – they were made by blades,” Zarul said, pointing at the scars. Caer nodded.
“Well, if he lives, perhaps we shall find out what kind of fighter he is, this man from the stars.”
Temsevar is an insignificant Periphery world on the very fringes of galactic civilisation. Settled long before the rise of faster-than-light technologies and left isolated for hundreds of years, its population have degenerated into the barbarism of a medieval culture. This primitive world has nothing the wealthy planets of the Coalition could want, until it becomes unwitting host to one of their most dangerous enemies – Avilon Revid.
From the moment he wakes up in the caravan of the merchant-princess Alexa the Fair, Avilon has to fight simply to survive in a world where he is seen as alien and dangerous. It is a battle to obtain his freedom,that pushes his skills and resources to the limit,so he can find a way off-planet before his enemies in the Coalition track him down.
But Temsevar has its own brutal conflicts being played out against the backdrop of its harsh and unforgiving climate. The society is dominated by a ruthless Warlord, intent on subduing the entire continent to his will and whose brilliant general – Jariq Zarengor – has earned a reputation for callous bloodshed. And then there is the enigmatic Durban Chola, trading information to whoever pays him for it, while playing his own, highly dangerous, game with fate.
The Fated Sky is the first volume in a new series of character driven books, which combine the action and space opera of science-fiction classics with the intrigue and political duplicity of the fantasy and historical genres.
Having had a chance to visit with E.M. a bit on Facebook, I had a suspicion this book was going to be a fun tale to devour. I did not miss judge.
I’ll start this off with a question: Where’s the tourist pamphlet for this world?!? E.M.’s careful attention to unusual details, despite a few unfamiliar words (easily comprehended from context) made me want to go visit. The story doesn’t play out against a tapestry, it plays out in full 3-D visual for me, which is highly unusual. Most of the time stories are played out in front of a rich tapestry, or like a well-done film. In this story, the world itself almost becomes a character that interacts with, molds, and shapes the underlying story.
Every time you think you’ve gained a good understanding, a new layer is added which continues to add a living vibrancy to the world – both the physical elements, and the political elements. Though this installment, I thoroughly looked forward to discovering what was “just around the bend”, and I usually despise stories with a heavy political element.
While not quite on par with the world building, the character development was also very well done. There are a few shallow characters, some that have depths I hope are explored, and everywhere in between, just as in real life. The reason I say this isn’t quite the same quality as the world building is because the characters are still developing, which leaves a lot of questions unanswered about motivation, and who the characters are at their core.
The main cast had some decided unexpected changes, a few of which I’m still struggling to wrap my head around. I’ve seen such sudden about faces in other tales with characters who weren’t quite as dedicated to their ways as E.M. describes her own, so these don’t quite ring true for me. (As a note to E.M. I’m still grousing about the nomad, blast it!)
With as strong as the other areas of the writing are, I found the pacing a bit out of kilter. The first 3/4 of the book were spot on – a nice organic development of excitement, and expectation. The last 1/4 felt like it was falling apart. There are several threads left open for the next books to pick up and carry on with, yet these same threads made the excitement of the tale begin to unravel for me. Perhaps, when I get a chance to read all the books in a single run it won’t be as visible. And, I AM going to get the rest of the series!
Overall score? A strong 4 of 5 stars from me. I’d love to give it a full five, but with the way the story begins to unravel, I just can’t. However, I can, will, and DO recommend if you like science fiction, you hop over to Amazon Here and pick up a copy. I honestly don’t think you’ll be disappointed.