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REVIEW

"SF Romance takes a new twist"

Seventeen year-old "Jai Rockworth" had until recently lived in isolation with his loving parents and three younger siblings. Their peaceful existence had been shattered when Jai's father had been kidnapped by those he had once ruled and escaped. Jai's father was none other than Jaibriol Qox II, Emperor of Eube. Jai's mother would begin an interstellar war in order to recover her soulmate. She is Sauscony Valdoria, Imperator of the Skolian Empire, the sworn enemy of Eube. The marriage had been a carefully guarded secret, but there were other secrets in Jai's closet. Such as the fact that his father, as well as his mother, is a Rhon Psion, a fact that would have jeopardized his life had his people discovered that their emperor was in fact a lowly "provider" instead of a pure blooded Aristo. The children had been left on Earth in the care of Seth Rockworth to await their parent's return.

Now Jai's parents are believed dead, victims of the bloody Radiance War that had crippled both empires. Though young, and vulnerable due to his inherited telepathic ability, Jai makes a daring bargain with the Eubian Concord, so that their deaths would not be in vain. By revealing his paternity, he secures an unlikely trade. In exchange for the return of Ruby prince, Eldrin Valoria, to the Skolians, he ascends the thrown of Eube, as Jabriol III.

Jai's do-or-die goal is to affect a permanent peace between his parents' peoples. It doesn't take him long to realize that he is in way over his head. The largest obstacle Jai faces is his heredity. He must forever guard his mind or risk the hell of slavery. (Jai's new people had been specially bred with a lack of empathy. To them telepath's are "providers" whose pain brings them intense physical pleasure called "transcendence". Slave trade fuels the Eubian economy and is intrinsic to their culture. Not only must Jai protect his mind, but he must also control his response to the abhorrent behavior of those around him, lest he give himself away.)

Aid comes from unexpected places. Jai is guided by his cousin Corbal Xir, who affected the questionable trade of a potential Ruby key (Eldrin) for the new emperor. He isn't sure he should trust Xir, he only knows that the man doesn't put the pressure on his mind that he suffers in the presence of other Aristos. Unfortunately the trade didn't sit well with some very powerful and treacherous Aristos, Xirad Kaliga his military advisor, Lord Raziquon who has many secrets, and Finance Minister, Tarquine Iquar. When Jaibriol is called upon to settle a dispute involving the three and the sale of a particularly interesting slave, he begins the tightrope walk which will determine whether his gamble was for all or nothing.

This incredible tale picks up where RADIANT SEAS (the second Soz tale) leaves off. It also picks up the trailing thread of ASCENDANT SUN, the story in which Jai's counterpart Kelric Valdoria joins the Triad to replace Jai's mother as the new Skolian Imperator. Kelric had been missing and presumed dead for decades. He returns only to be captured and sold into slavery to Tarquine Iquar, but subsequently escapes. The titles of these two tales are telling. They are the stories of two honorable and powerful men becoming the rulers of opposing worlds. Kelric, the golden son, ascends into the light becomes a powerful protagonist, while Jai symbolically garbed in black, must live in the shadow, always guarding himself against descending into the darkness that surrounds him -- Sun and Moon.

While everything about the Eubian culture flies in the face of the beliefs of a free people, and tends to make the reader cringe, Ms. Asaro gives it interesting aspects that capture the mind in spite of oneself. I found myself particular intrigued by the nuances of the convoluted Aristo conversational technique, which is as clever as the futuristic science that peppers these tales.

While Jai's struggles are fascinating, I think he will become more interesting with age. The characters which really fascinate in this tale are Tarquine Iquar and Corbal Xir. They do not have the benefits of Jai's heritage. They have both been steeped in Aristo culture and yet, they have proveN that they are capable of change. With these two at Jai's side we get the feeling there may yet be hope for the Eubian Concord. I can't wait for the next installment.

July, 2004
Copyright 2004

Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted October 30, 2006

SUMMARY

At the age of seventeen the young nobleman named Jaibriol Qox became ruler of a vast galactic empire - and lost everything he had ever valued.

Born of a clandestine liaison between a renegade daughter of the Skolian Imperialate and a scion of the genetically engineered Eubian Traders, Jai Qox grew up in exile, unaware of the powers that coursed through his noble blood. In the waning days of the bloody Radiance War, which ravaged the galaxy, Jai was captured, and returned to the Traders to play a role as a puppet Emperor in their scheme to consolidate their domination of space.

Now Jai must walk a razor's edge, to seize the power that is his by birthright, without succumbing to its dark seduction, in order to avert a conflagration which threatens to engulf a thousand worlds.

 

The Moon's Shadow
(Skolian Empire: Book 8)
by Catherine Asaro

Tor Books
March 1, 2004
ISBN #076534324X
EAN #9780765343246
415 pages
Paperback (reprint)
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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
Irresitible Forces
The Charmed Sphere
Charmed Destinies
Skyfall
The Moon's Shadow
Spherical Harmonic
Spherical Harmonic
Ascendant Sun
The Quantum Rose
The Phoenix Code
The Veiled Web
The Radiant Seas
The Last Hawk
Catch The Lightning
Primary Inversion


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