"Another Compelling Skolian Science Fiction Romance!"
After eighteen years stranded on Coba, Kelric escapes at
last to return home. He had become so valuable to the Coban
Managers, by virtue of his spectacular beauty and his
proficiency at Quis, that a war had been fought over him.
The confusion that ensued had allowed his escape. He had
left his wife and children behind and returned to his own
world only to find that the members of his other family,
the Rhon, had either died or been imprisoned. Interestingly
enough, Kelric learns much of this from a young high
school student, Jay Rockworth, a volunteer of the Allied
World's Dawn Corps. Jay is in truth Jabriol Qox Skolia, son
of Soz and Jabriol II; the secret heir to the "late" Eubian
Emperor and Skolian Imperator.
Among those believed to be dead are Kelric's half brother
Kurj, who had been Imperator of Skolia when he'd left, and
the two other Imperial heirs, his sister Sauscony who had
succeeded Kurj, and his brother Althor. It is two months
since the end of the Radiance War depicted in the novel
RADIENT SEAS, in which Soz and the Imperial fleet invaded
the very heart of the Eubian Empire to recover Jabriol Qox
II, her husband, the captive Highton Emperor. Very few are
aware of that truth, and it is commonly believed that Soz
had come out of seclusion to assume her title, avenge
Kurj's death, and rescue Althor who had been held by the
Eubians for the past two years. The two are believed to
have died war heros. Kelric is the surviving heir, and he
is dying. He must find a way off world to be repaired.
No one really knows who, if anyone, had won the war, both
the Skolian and Eubian empires are in chaos, with major
installations destroyed, and leadership uncertain. The webs
had all collapsed, including the Skol net which Kelric
would have to link into to join the Triad and declare
himself Imperator. For now he has realized the wisdom of
To get off world he acquires a job on a merchant vessel
delivering goods to the Aristos. It is a serious risk,
however he has no other choice. His worst fears become a
reality when the convoy is taken by the Aristo fleet.
Though Kelric's identity is yet unknown, he is immediately
recognized as a provider, and one of rare quality. His
captor, realizing that he can bring in a good price,
arranges an action for a handful of the Highton elite.
Tarquine Iquar acquires Kelric for fourteen million
credits. In spite of the tattoo job Kelric had acquired to
mask his golden coloring, Tarquine is well aware of his
indentity, having coveted this particular provider since
she had seen the broadcast of his first wedding when he'd
been a wenty two year old man. Yet she does not reveal his
identity to the others. She has other uses for him in
addition to the obvious ones. She expects him attend a
reception to "feel out" the other guests for intrigue.
Kelric is horrified at the thought of being in the same
room with so many Aristo minds oppressing him, but he has
made a startling realization. Tarquine does not appear to
have that mental cavity that he associates with her kind.
He is even more surprised to find that although Tarquine's
inbred attitudes regarding the basic role of providers has
not really changed, she has voluntarily given up the
ability to transcend with them.
This information opens Kelric's mind to some new thoughts
about the Traders, and for once he has hope that there
might be other ways of dealing with the Aristo's. That is
if he survives to become Imperator. The opportunity to
excape presents itself at the banquet, while an unexpected
Trader broadcast has all the Aristo's mesmerized.
If he is able to escape Kelric hopes to deactivate the Lock
that is in their possession, but not before he joins the
Triad as the Military Key. He realizes that he has only one
chance at this and that the odds of success are small.
While he has little, his people have everything to lose.
This time the Aristo's ingrained expectations regarding
providers may actually benefit him. He needs only to be
himself, a provider completely opposite of the norm to get
around them. Not surprisingly, his Quis skills point out
the way. Will Kelric succeed in his quest? We he find a way
home before his life ebbs away? The answer lies in the
hands of two people, a enigmatic young Emperor, and a
former slave. What of love you ask? Well if he had his
druther's Kelric would not doubt be a lover not a fighter
and just maybe, for once, he will find it on his own terms.
Another compelling tale in the Skolian Saga.
BTW while in the web Kelric detects and unexpected
presence. Look for SPHERICAL HARMONIC in November 2001 to
Copyright © 2001
Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted October 2, 2001