Life is never easy for Sirantha Jax. With every step forward she takes in her life, comes at least one step back. With every hard-won victory, comes a heartbreaking loss. But what is so undeniable about this character is her resiliency. She is no superwoman. She is vulnerable, breakable, and flawed. But no matter how hard of a hit she takes, she manages to get up again and keep moving. She is also loyal, smart, and so much more than anyone gives her credit for. It’s a combination that makes for a pretty fantastic heroine.
If you haven’t been reading this series from the beginning, I would not advise starting here. Each book grows from the continuing storyline before it. But here it continues in pretty spectacular fashion. The entire installment is set on an alien planet, with a unique culture and a very non-human alien population. My hat is off completely to Ann Aguirre for her spectacular world-building. I was already impressed by her concept of grimspace and Jax’s ability to see through deep space. But I grow even more so as she continues to build outward. I’ve never read anything quite like it, yet I never got lost and fell into it completely.
This book finally takes Jax on the diplomatic mission to Vel’s homeworld she never quite made it to in the last installment. She is trying to get his people to align with the Conglomerate to protect humanity from the flesh eating Morgut who want to enslave them as a foodsource. It’s a tall order, since most of the Ithtorians consider humans little more than savages. But Vel is there to teach her the ins and outs of his people. As he schools Jax on culture and body language, their friendship only grows stronger. Honestly, their relationship is one of my absolute favorite parts of the book. It’s a deep friendship, and I love how profoundly it affects them both.
Meanwhile, Jax has March back, but he is only an echo of the man she fell in love with. His decision to stay behind and fight on Keri’s planet has broken something inside of him. He is detached from any of his softer emotions, including his love for Jax. All that remains is an icy rage, but Jax refuses to give up on him. I love her devotion to him and her stubborn refusal to give up.
I found the Ithiss-Tor world fascinating and even its alien characters are crafted with dimension and care. They are nothing like humans, but they are just as compelling. None more so than Vel, and we learn so much about him here. Outside of Jax and March, he is the best part of the series. But Dina, Hit, Jael, and the Doc all have important roles to play too.
My only small complaint was that I did not like all the cutaways to propaganda and news reports about the Syndicate and attacks on other worlds. They kept taking me away from the story I was so interested in and it took everything in me not to skip them.
Otherwise, the pace is fast, the action and intrigue are pitch perfect –and the emotional elements pack a real punch. A great installment in a fantastic series.
Click to purchase: Amazon
by Ann Aguirre
Release Date: September 29, 2009