"Remarkable Science Fiction Debut"
Sauscony Valdoria (Soz) knows exactly who she is; a Rhon
psion, a member of the Ruby Dynasty, an heir to the Skolian
Imperialate, a Primary of the elite Skolian Jagernaut space
force. She is also well aware of who her ememies are. They
are the Traders also known as Eubians, who use empaths such
as she as providers, torturing them unmercifully,
channeling their pain to achieve orgasmic pleasure. Soz's
personal experiences at the hands of one such sadist do not
bear thinking about. She'd put it behind her a decade ago,
or so she thought.
Hostilities between the Skolians being what they are, the
Allied Worlds of Earth had declared Delos a neutral planet
where Allieds, Skolians, and Traders could coexist in
harmony. This is where Soz's four person squad had chosen
to take their r and r. It is there that Soz begins to
question everything she has ever known about herself and
Soz, Rex, Helda, and Taas are relaxing in a tavern when a
Highton Aristo (the elite of the elite among Eubians) and
his bodyguards enter. Though the first thought of the
members is to leave, Soz decides to tough it out and
determine their intentions. She suspects they may be
combing the planet for new providers.
To her shock, the young Aristo approaches her. He is very
pleasant and complimentary, even as his words dredge up
Soz's hated memories of her former captor. Yet there is
something about the young Aristo that doesn't fit, she just
can't put her finger on it.
Later that evening Rex announces his intention to retire
and proposes to Soz. Although she hasn't thought of it
before, she realizes that she does have feelings for her
longtime friend. With the second realization that the Rhon
mating she's always fantasized about is an impossibility,
accepts. Rex's retirement insures that she will never have
to send him into battle. She, however, has no intentions of
After such an eventful day, Soz is unable to sleep. A
chance encounter brings home to her what had been wrong
with the Aristo she'd met earlier. Nothing! His mind had
not contained that empty cavity that only the pain of a
Provider could fill for one of his kind. He was an
imposter, and Soz wouldn't rest until she learned just how
he'd pulled off such a masquerade and what his purpose is.
What she learned that night would change her life forever.
Jabriol Qox, had spent his entire twenty two years in
isolation, lonely and unloved. He had been secreted away
for his own protection, but from who? He is a complete
enigma, the Eubian heir, and the ultimate weapon against
the Skolians. He is an aberration among the Hightons who
are fanatical about the purity of their bloodlines, a
deliberately created Rhon psion. He is the one Eubian
capable of accessing the Skolnet and destroying the
Skolians once and for all. Ironically the deeply sensitive
empath is incapable of killing someone he loves, even if
that person is supposed to be his enemy.
Undoubtedly the most innocent man alive, Jabriol believes
his "defective" mind is the reason his father cannot bear
the sight of him. Soz immediately recognizes the truth, the
Aristo's secret weapon would also be the ultimate provider
should his people ever learn the truth about him. He also
has the potential to be the Rhon mate she's always dreamed
of. She is torn between the duty that dictates she should
kill him where he stands, the remarkable attraction she
feels for him, and the knowledge that his heart is pure.
For the first time Soz questions her duty to the Imperator
and the Skolian people. Just how much can one woman be
expected to do for them and still keep her sanity?
Soz is a complex and fascinating character. The way Ms.
Asaro works through her conflicts is simply amazing.
Jaibriol is a deeply sympathetic character. Add to this
incredible technology and compelling side characters,
villains, family, friends, and an intuitive heartbender,
and you have a remarkable romantic sci-fi debut. I greatly
look forward to the continuing saga.
Copyright © 2001
Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted September 7, 2001