About the Book
Author: Jeanne G’Fellers
Published: March 1, 2017
Category: fiction, bisexual books
Genre: science fiction
Worker. Trade Agent. Slave. Etain Ixtii detests the labels others give her, but there are some things she must accept. She was genetically designed to do specific tasks. Her breeding instincts interrupt her life every forty-five days. But workers like Etain are taught not to question so when she returns from training questioning her home world Gno’s profit-based caste system, she risks her life. She doesn’t want to be an agent and doesn’t want to cross through the wormhole to never return. Why does she have to go? Can’t someone else?
Usurer Serria, the owner of Etain’s birth and training debt, quickly tires of her problem worker and launches Etain through a collapsing wormhole so she can collect the insurance payout. Very bad business indeed, but Etain manages to survive the attempt, arriving on the other side plagued by debilitating headaches and hounded by a dangerous insectoid enemy that no one, including Leigheas Sternbow, the Takla royal physician, and Mercine Feney, the Empire’s powerful female leader, can make disappear.
On finishing this book, all I can say is, wow. It’s a journey into an incredibly detailed and complex world. Set aside some time for this one because it takes time to become fully immersed. There’s no warning: readers are thrown right into the deep end. All the world-building unfolds slowly over time as Etain reveals herself and her history.
I prefer books that take me right into the thick of things. I don’t need pages of explanatory text or for each new discovery (technology, political system, social mechanics) to be given the same weight as character development. It was easy enough to understand Etain’s home world as well as the world in which she ends up without all that. Of much more interest were the intricacies of her various relationships to other beings.
Roughly the first half or a bit more is devoted to Etain acclimating to her new surroundings. This includes the development of her romantic, sexual, and friend relationships. Although there is some tension with the insects she’s unintentionally brought with her from her home world, this is largely more interpersonal and character development. The second half has much more of the action and political intrigue. I liked the contrast.
During the relationship-building stage, I appreciated the differences in how Etain views things compared to the others. I loved how each of their personalities comes into play as they all learn what Etain needs from them. There’s no descriptive sex, but there’s plenty of sensuality that ranges from delightfully playful to soft and tender. The characters are creating a life with each other, and although we only see through Etain’s eyes, we still get a sense of the feelings of the people she’s with.
The characters are all well-drawn and three-dimensional, even the villains. I think Dresh might be my favorite, but it would be a challenge to explain why without spoilers. Userer Serria is a terrific Big Bad, and I love the way the story arc ends (or rather, doesn’t quite). It will be exciting to see what happens in the next installment.
All of the things I loved about this (single point of view, lots of character development, world-building throughout the story, cliffhangers) are things that other readers may enjoy less. However, the writing style is excellent, and those elements all come together well to weave an outstanding tale. I’m looking forward to the next part of the series.
For wonderful characters, just the right amount of world-building, and a gripping story, this gets 10/10 fountain pens.
About the Author
Author Jeanne G’Fellers’ early memories include watching the original Star Trek series with her father and reading the stacks of books her librarian mother brought home. Jeanne’s influences include author Anne McCaffrey, Ursula K. LeGuin, Octavia Butler, Isaac Asimov, and Frank Herbert. Jeanne’s first series, The Taelach Sisters Series, won two Golden Crown Literary Awards for excellence in Speculative Fiction and was short-listed for a Lambda Literary Award.