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REVIEW

"Science Fiction Sparkling with Romantic Resonance!"

The Radiance War has ended leaving both the Skolian and Trader Empires in disarray. All of the webs have collapsed. Kurj Skolia had been killed just prior. Sauscony (Soz) and Althor Valdoria, two of his three designated heirs, are thought to have died as war heroes in the battle. Soz's husband Jabriol Qox II, the Eube Emperor, is also thought to have died. Kelric Valdoria, the third heir, had returned from the dead after nearly 2 decades, but is in the hands of the Traders, as is the Eldest Valdoria sibling, Eldrin. The second Triad key, Dyhianna Selei, along with her son, is missing and presumed dead. The surviving family members are being held under house arrest on their homeworld of Lyshriol by the Allied Worlds of Earth, in order to prevent them from resurrecting the Skolnet.

Eldrin's capture is a coupe for the Traders who have already captured a lock, one of three sites used by the Triad to enter the psiberspace web. This ability had been the Skolians one advantage over the more prolific Traders. With the death of family patriarch, Eldrinson Valdoria, the third Triad key, Eldrin would inherit that position. The Traders now had both a lock and a key.

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REVIEW

THE QUANTUM ROSE is the sixth book in the Saga of the Skolian Empire. Timewise it parallels the fifth book, ASCENDANT SUN, in which Kelric attempts to shut down the captured lock, while young Jabriol III trades his own freedom for the release of his uncle Eldrin Valdoria, and becomes the new Qox Emperor.

The remaining Valdorias along with the ISC, unaware of what is transpiring, have devised a desperate plan to obtain freedom. Eldrinson is cremated, according to his wishes, and his ashes distributed over the lands he had loved. The AWOE representatives are told a different story. They are told that Eldrinson's dying wish had been to have his coffin put into orbit around Lyshriol. Havryl (Vyrl) Valdoria, fifth born of the ten siblings, is elected to fill the coffin. The plan is for ISC to recover him and take him to sanctuary until a plan can be devised to free the rest of his family. The plan goes awry and Havryl spends countless days orbiting the planet before he is finally retrieved.

On the planet Balumil, Kamoj Quanta Argali, the young governor of Argali province is taking a break from her heavy responsibilities when a group of men, led by Lord Havryl Lionstar, happen upon her bathing hole. Lionstar is an off worlder whose strange ways and unfamiliarity with her peoples customs have caused quite a stir.

Kamoj returns home to learn that Lionstar has entered a bid for her hand that cannot be matched by any other. This disrupts lifelong plans of a merger between Argali and Ironbridge, an arrangement that would have been beneficial to her people. Kamoj is well aware that her former betrothed, Jax the governor of Ironbridge would not be pleased.

Jax is a descendant of the Trader breeders who had created bred Kamoj's ancestors to be slaves, and who had become stranded on Balumil. Jax had been alternately cruel and kind to her, keeping the conciliatory Kamoj completely off balance. He had blamed her for his moods. While her uncle is convinced that a Lionstar merger will be better for her, she is not sure what it will mean for her people. Lionstar is a mystery; no one had ever even seen his face.

The merger/wedding goes through without Havryl's knowledge that the "dowry" he had offered had been construed as a purchase price, but he is currently too drunk to puzzle it out. He can't even get his bride's name right. The lengthy sensory deprivation, exacerbated by an empath's need for close human contact, had driven him to drink in order to squelch his endless nightmares.

When he passes out in the coach on the way home, Kamoj cannot resist the temptation to see the face, hidden beneath his ever present cowl. She is shocked to find a sightless metal face but her nature urges her to seek out positive aspects of his appearance. His hair is beautiful, and unable to resist touching it, she discovers that the metal is a fa�ade hiding a face of exquisite beauty. He is human but the atmosphere of her world is hostile to her new husband. He is unable to breath outdoors without the mask.

It matters little, for she soon learns that the Ruby prince will not be staying long. For all that his drinking concerns her for the sake of his health, he is kind and gentle with her. Her mind resonates with his, comforting him when his demons have him in their thrall,l and giving her the ability to discern the emotions of others.

While the pair are falling in love with each other, Jax Ironbridge is not taking his disappointment well. He has accused Vyrl of coercion, kidnapping, and rape. The scandal would jeopardize Vryl's mission if the charges were exposed. Jax believes he is justified in taking her back, and she bears the brunt of his ire. The crimes that Vryl has been accused of become reality, though Jax feels his own actions are well justified. Now Kamoj is faced a very difficult choices. Vryl wants her back, and she has to decide what will be best for herself, the man she loves who will soon be leaving her world behind, and the Argali people who she has spent her life protecting. While the two men vie for her, Kamoj realizes through Vyrl's methods, so different from that of Jax, that the ways of her people, ingrained by virtue of their genetics, are not etched in stone. Her choice is made.

I truly liked Kamoj. While most of her pleasing characteristics have been bred into her, she is a strong enough to break through her conditioning and stand up to the men who vie for control over her life. She refuses to bring Vryl drink even though she knows he will push her away because of it, and she stands up to Jax for the first time in her life. She braves the unknown for the sake of her husband's sanity, and for a family she has never met.

Vryl is an interesting man, the first Valdoria hero who is not a Jagernaut warrior. He is described as a simple man, like his father, who wanted nothing more than a wife, some land, and lots of children. He is a dancer, forced to hide his art on a world where men don't do those things. He strikes one as being vulnerable and in many ways he is. But he has a core of steel that allowed him to survive the horror of being "buried alive", to face the fear and carry out the duty that he is charged with. On his home world the love he has inspired is quite plain, as its inhabitants gather from all corners to stand with him against their captors. Kamoj is not a psion but is soon accepted by his family and her resonance with Vryl produces a surprising gift for his people.

I really love these off world pairings. Dealing with different cultures teaches the Skolians so very much about themselves and humanity in general. Where would Kelric have been without his Quis skills to show him the way to escape his Trader captors? Hopefully in a future work we will discover what Kamoj's gift will mean to them. I also like the subtle role reversal of the genders in these books. It makes one think, and as this genre is widely read by both men and women, I think that is a very good thing.

With Kelric poised to be the next Imperator, Eldrin free to serve as Web Key, and the Valdoria family liberated, all that remains is to recover the third member of the Triad. Look for the seventh book of the Skolian saga, Spherical Harmonic, in which Dehya coalesces in November 2001.

Copyright © 2001

Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted September 26, 2001

SUMMARY

The saga of the Skolian Empire continues with the story of Kamoj Quanta Argali, who governs an impoverished province on a backward planet. For her people, she is going to marry the prosperous Jax Ironbridge. But before they can do so she is forced into marriage with a stranger from a distant star.

 

The Quantum Rose
(Skolian Empire, Book 6)
by Catherine Asaro

Tor Books
December 1, 2000
ISBN #0312890621
EAN #9780312890629
389 pages
Hardcover
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Other Books by
Catherine Asaro

Charmed Destinies
Diamond Star
The Ruby Dice
The Night Bird
The Ruby Dice
The Fire Opal
The Dawn Star
The Final Key
The Misted Cliffs
The Journey Home
Schism
Sunrise Alley
The Moon's Shadow
Irresitible Forces
The Charmed Sphere
Charmed Destinies
Skyfall
The Moon's Shadow
Spherical Harmonic
Spherical Harmonic
Ascendant Sun
The Phoenix Code
The Veiled Web
The Radiant Seas
The Last Hawk
Catch The Lightning
Primary Inversion


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