Feature book: When Stars Collide
Reece’s public face is a contortionist bubble dancer who works in a bar on a space station, but she is also a skilled thief and freedom fighter. She saves other women from the vile prison of Isla and wreaks revenge on those who have sent women there. On Isla, she lived through a hell where she was experimented on, raped and made sterile.
Ulrac is a Darkon warrior with a famous Traditionalist military father. The book begins with Ulrac being brutally tortured to reveal information, which will result in wholesale slaughter and genocide. He resists and is welcoming death when he is rescued by an unlikely group, one of whom is Reece. Unbeknownst to Reece, Ulrac sent her to Isla but also arranged for her escape. He is stoic and educated into his inflexible culture. But he is also intelligent enough to see that just because you are taught some things, doesn’t mean you need to believe them as absolute truth.
Reece and Ulrac start their relationship in an uneasy alliance. She has been captured for a murder she didn’t commit, and he has questions about other issues. They have a series of dangerous adventures together as part of a larger tapestry of political intrigue and power brokering in the wider universe. On their travels, they learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses; they save each other from certain death as well as from double agents and conspirators a number of times. Ulrac and Reece have to go their separate ways reluctantly, but it is necessary to save various other people throughout the story. They also suffer a series of interrupted erotic encounters until Reece eventually tempts Ulrac into sex, an activity which the Traditionalists have tried to eradicate from his culture. While saving various people and by extension larger parts of the galaxies, they fall in love.
This is a very good adventure set across spacecraft, space stations and a number of planets. There is a positive feel to the story even though truly abhorrent things happen to some of the characters. Reece is both vulnerable and hard edged; she survives horrors that leave other characters damaged beyond redemption. Ulrac is stoic, intelligent and resourceful; he is not afraid to abandon his traditions when he realises they are founded on lies. This book can easily be read alone, but the political wrangling carries more weight and menace if you read the previous stories in the Legends of the Seven Galaxies series. Enjoy.
Reviewed by Gina
A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.