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1. Skyfall (Tor Science Fiction)
2. Diamond Star (Skolian Empire)
4. The Fire Opal (Lost Continent)
5. The Veiled Web
6. The Last Hawk
7. The Phoenix Code
8. Schism: Part One of Triad (Saga
9. The Night Bird
10. Catch The Lightning (The Saga
11. Alpha (Sunrise Alley)
12. Ascendant Sun: A New Novel in
13. The Moon's Shadow (The Saga of
14. Spherical Harmonic: A Novel in
15. The Dawn Star (Misted Cliffs,
16. The Quantum Rose (The Saga of
17. The Lost Continent Collection
18. The Radiant Seas (Saga of the
19. The Final Key: Part Two of Triad
20. The Charmed Sphere (Misted Cliffs,

1. Skyfall (Tor Science Fiction)
by Catherine Asaro
Mass Market Paperback: 336 Pages (2004-10-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765345579
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The Birth of an Empire
Skyfall goes back to the very roots of Skolia, showing how a chance meeting on a backwater planet forges a vast interstellar empire. Eldrinson, a provincial ruler on a primitive planet, is plagued by inner demons. But when he meets Roca, a beautiful and mysterious woman from the stars, he whisks her away to his mountain retreat, inadvertently starting a great interstellar war, and birthing the next generation of rulers for the Skolian Empire.
Amazon.com Review
Catherine Asaro's Saga of the Skolian Empire may be the mostimportant and entertaining science fiction series to originate in the 1990s. However, its novels have not always been published in chronological order, and they share a vast cast. Newcomers should start with the ninth novel, Skyfall (2003); it takes place a generation earlier than, and sets the stage for, the previous novels.

Roca Skolia is not only the imperial heiress; she's one of the exceedingly rare Rhon psions, gifted with great telepathic and empathic powers. She's been traveling alone and incognito through the galaxy, but now she must return home. She's the Skolian Empire's sole hope of preventing interstellar war with the Eubian Concord.

Traveling the galactic backwaters has its risks, however, and Roca finds herself on Skyfall, a primitive, isolated planet. Skyfall isn't connected to the interstellar information network, so Roca can't contact Skolia; and if she misses the next starship, there won't be another for months--or years. Roca is abducted from the tiny starport by a barbaric local lord, Eldrinson Althor Valdoria--a man who, against all odds, may be another Rhon psion. Roca findsherself trapped in Eldrinson's remote mountain castle as blizzards pile the blue alien snow high...and the army of Eldrinson's barbarian rival surrounds the castle. --Cynthia Ward ... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars Skyfall
I love this book.I'm almost halfway and I can't put the book down.I've read all the other 8 6 or comething books before this one and its nice to finally read the story about Roca and Eldrinson.

3-0 out of 5 stars uncanny connection
this book was written in 2003 but back in 1999 my guitar player and i wrote several songs for a future album called "events of the ninth skyfall sequence" and was to be another prequel to our current 2 albums. the band broke up before we could finish writing or begin recording this album in 1999. really weird to me...lol the book is the ninth in the sequence and is a prequel to all the others, thats heavy!

3-0 out of 5 stars A good read but poor Kindle format
Catherine Asaro is my favorite modern SciFi writer and this book is no exception. Though lighter in science than most of the series, it is still a fun read that lets you in on the softer side of Roca Skolia. I would rate the book itself at four stars.

The reason I marked this book as only three stars is because of the Kindle format. Instead of displaying the reading-friendly, nicely spaced lines that you usually see on the Kindle, this edition looks exactly like the paperback version of this book. (I know, because I own the paperback.) While it is sometimes nice to preserve some of the unique look of a hard copy book, in this case it does the text a disservice; the words and lines are so closely spaced together that it is difficult to read in a way that defeats many of the characteristics I enjoy about the Kindle display. I wonder if this is the dreaded Topaz format that receives so many low marks in Kindle discussion forums.

That said, I'm thrilled to see another of Asaro's books available for the Kindle. I already own almost all of her Skolia books in hard copy, and I would also like to collect them for my Kindle because they are books that I re-read regularly.

3-0 out of 5 stars The planet of My Little Pony
I'm sorry to have to say this, since I love Asaro's other Skolian Empire novels, so in contrast this was almost unbelievably boring. En route to Parthonia, Roca gets accidentally stranded on Lyshriol, is kidnapped by barbarians, falls in love, and spends a winter stuck in Eldrinson's castle. That's the bulk of the novel.

Since Asaro has apparently decided to go back and pull an Episode I-III on parts of her own universe, I was hoping we'd get some explanation as to why an incredibly famous, nearly 60-year-old dancer/Imperial princess/politician would fall in love with a hick who's literally young enough to be her kid on a planet where most people aren't even aware the rest of the universe exists. The answer is that he's really, REALLY, hot.

I was also hoping for some interesting information about Lyshriol. In later novels (not published later in real life, but occurring later in the series timeline) it's implied that the original Ruby Empire set up the planet and genetically engineered its residents to be human computers who could connect to the Kyle web/psiberweb without machinery. The setting of this novel would have been the perfect opportunity to flesh out that idea and provide the Skolian characters with more clues about that lost history. Unfortunately we don't learn much about Lyshriol except that everything on it is pretty pastel colours, e.g. blue snow (no word on WHY this blue pigment is in everything, either). I really wish she'd left the lyrines out, as I outgrew interest in My Little Pony a long time ago.

I'm giving this three stars instead of two because the parts that don't take place on Lyshriol are absolutely fascinating. We get to meet Dyhianna and Roca's colossal mother Lahaylia, who escaped from slavery to the Aristos, lived three centuries, and set up an empire to rival her former masters'. We get more information on how Skolian government works, as a half-democracy, half-monarchy, with a strong matriarchal tradition. And since Roca got into this mess in the first place by trying to evade her eldest son...we get more glimpses into the dark, furious, incestuous labyrinth of Kurj Skolia's psyche.

Unfortunately, since this takes place during an uneasy detente with the Eubian Concord, this book is missing one of my favourite aspects of Asaro's hard SF: the cool space battles at relativistic speeds. I really wish someone would make a computer game where you could have that kind of combat.

Recommendation: borrow this book from your public library, skim the boring bits.

5-0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Addition to the Skolian Saga
Well written, filling in important information about the Ruby Dynasty and how it was reinvigorated. Also provides background about characters who have a more central role in stories that have already been published.

Most of the series I read develop chronologically. Asaro succeeds in writing stories out of chronological sequence so that I can get fully involved with the characters and plot even though I already know what will happen to them.One thing I notice in this and other books that move back in time (e.g., Schism) is that she develops characters whom I have already met without excessively repeating old information or contradicting it.

... Read more

2. Diamond Star (Skolian Empire)
by Catherine Asaro
Mass Market Paperback: 448 Pages (2010-06-29)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1439133824
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Del Valdoria was an heir of the Ruby Dynasty, rulers of the interstellar empire called the Skolian Imperialate. But he had no interest in being associated with the draconian measures his brothers used to maintain power. He just wanted to sing holo-rock—not a respectable activity for a Ruby prince. To make things more complicated, he was on Earth, far from home, and the Earth government wasn't willing to let such a potential source of information and valuable bargaining chip leave. And then a major entertainment corporation took an interest in his music.

            Del's mix of unsophisticated innocence and sensual wickedness was dynamite. Singing as Del Arden, he became a major hit almost overnight, the hottest thing in holo-rock. And that was a nightmare for the Earth government, because it put a spotlight on him, inviting the attention of assassins, kidnappers, and who knew what other dangers. If anything happened to Del, Allied Space Command might as well just walk up to Skolian Space Command and say, "Hey, let's have a war.”

            Then there was a third interstellar empire, the Eubian Concord, warlike enemy of the Skolian Imperialate. His millions of fans on Earth might not know that their idol was a Ruby prince, but the Concord knew just who he was. And certain songs, if sung by a son of the Ruby Dynasty, might be considered an act of war . . . ... Read more

Customer Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars SF, Space Opera and Rock'n'Roll!
Del Valdoria is caught on Earth as the Skolian and Eubian Empires make war and then an uneasy peace with each other.He's a pawn in a political struggle, not a fighter or a politician or a diplomat... he's just a musician and feels very much a pawn even among his family.While visiting a music studio he is auditioned by error and finds himself being signed by a music company.All he wants is to pursue his passion for music and maybe make his own living.But he's am empath, which makes a huge, excited audience an ordeal.And there are Eubians who would love to enslave him.His family doesn't understand rock music and want him safe in what he feels is a gilded prison, and furthermore, treat him like a idiot child.And everyone worries that the least little thing, even people finding out who he is connected to, will cause an international incident.

Asaro's tales of the Skolian Empire are sometimes brilliant, sometimes a little uneven, but always fun.And with Rock Star dreams mixed in with the Space Opera, what's not to like?

5-0 out of 5 stars Fast-paced futuristic fun!
This latest installment in the SKOLIAN EMPIRE series is a fascinating what-if look into a not-too-distant future where too much technology gets in the way of just living life. The main character was warm and genuine, and I cannot wait to get hold of the music CD that goes with the story. :)

3-0 out of 5 stars I love the Skolian empire, but I had a hard time caring for Del
I just finished this book, and though I loved the ending (absolutely love Jai - what a fascinating character), I had a very hard time relating to Del. In the other books, the rest of his dynastic family comes across as regal, but understandable because of the threat they face. They are ultra-sensitive which makes them over-protective, and that protective nature sometimes can be smothering. But Del is the kind of kid that's a perpetual screw-up and can't figure out why his family doesn't trust him. He has all the characteristics of someone I personally can't stand: he's obnoxious, has anger issues, uses bad language, and is attracted to anything in a skirt - and acts on the attraction, despite supposedly having feelings for a 100% fake pushy producer. He passes out at parties, he's into drugs and rampant sex, he gets kidnapped (but isn't too stressed to enjoy the fellatio), and then finally in the end he does a good deed that gets him kidnapped (again) and almost killed. We're not talking about a super genius here!

As another reviewer said, I also was disappointed that he went for the bimbo who doesn't even rate on the Kyle scale.

The bright part of this novel was the ending. Once the rest of the family got involved I was better able to stomach Del. I've read all of the Skolian novels andI've really enjoyed them. The characters who were ones I could relate to, even look up to, made this story worthwhile.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another great addition to a favourite series
My review of the hardcover edition of Diamond Star, originally posted on Goodreads...

Wow, I'm actually trying to write a book review. I haven't done that in months and months, but we'll see how it goes.

Catherine Asaro is my favourite author and her Skolian series, of which Diamond Star is the latest chapter, is my favourite series. However, I often get incredibly anxious about reading her books, sometimes putting it off for months, and I'm never been completely sure about why. I am coming to the conclusion that it is a combination of the fact that I really connect with these books, meaning I tend to have a very intense reaction to them, and the fact I find her bad guys particularly nasty, so that the more they feature in a book, the more anxious I feel about reading it. But I love the books. The characters speak to me and I really respond to them. I care about them all and want to know what happens to them. If I was a writer (which I'm not, and certainly wouldn't ever be one of Catherine's talent) and I was trying to "write what you love and want to read", these are they books I'd want to write. They just hit all my buttons, even if they terrify me a little bit as well.

As I read the book, I really wasn't always sure if I liked Del or not. I certainly didn't dislike him, but he could be an incredibly frustrating character at times. He could be pretty immature and needs to do some growing up. Most of her other characters have been much more mature and this is something new. It's done well, but I wanted to slap him occasionally. I think this is completely intentional, but he's still sometimes frustrating. Not annoying, because he's totally in character all the time, but frustrating because he has so much potential he isn't living up to yet.

Of course, that's part of the power of the character. For a lot of complicated reasons I don't want to spoil, he's missed out on a childhood really and he's a grown man who is still finding his way out of adolescence with all of an adult's weight on his shoulders. I found it particularly poignant that, for him, all that his family has suffered (and we readers have suffered it with them through the earlier books) has happened all in one brief, crushing moment, where in reality it has been spread out over 40 years. For them, there has been time to come to some sort of terms with it all and move on, even if only to the next crisis. For Del, it's all happened to him at once and I doubt he's had time to work through any of it. That's why he takes the action he does at the end of the book, full of anger and also confusion I think, and it works perfectly. It's probably also the beginning of some healing of all the pain, so it will good to see where his character goes in the aftermath of that.

Apparently, Catherine's next Skolian book is to be called Carnelians. "It's another stand-lone, like Diamond Star. However, it fits in with Diamond Star and another book called The Ruby Dice, because all three [sic:] involve the same characters and universe." (Catherine Asaro on Paraoddity)

Firstly, I'm not sure what the third book mentioned here is as Catherine has only named two, but I'm not sure that I care. More Del, more Kelric, more Jai. Yay, I'm going to be happy (even if that whole anxiety thing happens again). But my real point is that I can see Del needing another book. His story doesn't feel finished here. This chapter of it is, but he's still got growing up and healing to do, probably quite a lot of both, and his character arc has plenty more places to go. But now that I have finished the book, I find that I do like him. I'm well established in his corner and I want to see him do that growing and become the man he can be. He's made mistakes, but he learns from them and I want to see that keep happening. (Although a bit from Kelric's point of view, to see his real feelings for Del, not his always stoic reactions as interpreted by Del in his frustration and anger, would be good too.)

One other small comment - it was nice to have an aspect of the family tree that has always been confusing finally explained. Maybe in the next book we could have an update of the family tree and the timeline (with the "location" of the newer books added to it ).

This is a slightly jointed review - I apologise. I started with a bang, then rather ran out of steam. Rather than leaving the draft sitting around for months, I decided to post what I had, so here you are. I hope it was interesting and/or useful.

5-0 out of 5 stars A book with a soundtrack
Once upon a time, at least 10 years ago, I subscribed to a science fiction literature listserv where Catherine Asaro was a frequent poster. Following a link I discovered she was a writer, lived in the DC area, and was a physicist. Hmm, reminded me of my friend Roy Young, another physicist/writer.

I'd listened to Ursula K. Le Guin and Anne McCaffrey during my commutes into DC and liked them, but they were fantasy writers and I wanted to listen to more sf. I had found this articulate and intelligent woman sf writer and was eager to listen to her.

The local libraries were just beginning to stock audio books and I checked them out as they came in. I caught up on the classics I should have read in school and discovered westerns, romances, historical fiction, and other genres I had avoided. No Catherine Asaro though.

My career intensified and I neglected the listserv and my recreational reading ceased. Now I'm retired and my free time is back. Yippee! There are so many more audio books, I have to pick and choose. I discovered ebooks, blogs, SFWA, the whole online literary scene. I checked the listserv. Yes, Catherine was there. I was ready but where to begin? She's written so much and some were series. Listserv to the rescue again! It said Diamond Star, her latest release, was good on its own even though it inhabited the Asaro universe.

Diamond Star also came with a CD, not a reading of the story, but a "soundtrack" of songs from the book. I was hooked. As a boy, I enjoyed listening to classical music while I read Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom and Pellucidar books. Would Diamond Star give me the same experience?

Yes, and more. Del-Kurj Arden Valdoria is a renegade prince of the Skolian Empire. He enjoys singing and is accidentally discovered by a major label. His awkward rise to fame puts him in conflict with his family and in jeopardy with their enemies. The CD contains the songs he writes and sings. It all fits together.

I played the CD as background music as I dug in. Aside: "Repeat" on a CD player is a lot smoother than flipping LPs every half hour or so. The music was unobtrusive but not banal and matched the aura of the narrative. The musicians are a local group and Ms Asaro wrote most of the lyrics and even does some vocals. At the end of my reading, I replayed the CD paying particular attention to the lyrics, which are provided in the book. That gave me another level of comprehension and enjoyment.

Remember my discovery of all those different genres? Diamond Star has lots of them. At times it's a western as in space opera (literally!), a light romance, a sexier romance, a high tech adventure, a social commentary, hard science fiction . . . historical novel? . . .it's there too in the form of the Skolian geneology and time line.

That may all sound cumbersome but it's all part of the plot as Del progresses, screws up, falls in love, fails, succeeds, fights bureaucracy, is kidnapped . . . . Ms Asaro's writing style keeps it light and moving forward.

Some of my favorite parts are what might be called "Young Adult tech aware interludes." Del is messaging, he's in virtual reality, signing virt cubes, at the mall, the bookstore. Second Life becomes Life Million. I also liked the local references to the Columbia Sheraton and the Merriwether Post Pavilion, and the Baltimore Sun becoming the Baltimore Solar Site, and the airport becoming the Thurgood Marshall Starport off the Interstate 95 Air Lane. That local band, Point Valid, even gets a retrospective mention. The sex scenes were interesting too. They were written in such a way that they could be interpreted differently depending on the experience of the reader. Neat trick.

Diamond Star really does stand on its own. You don't need to know anything about the Skolian universe to enjoy it. Warning: You may want to know more about it after reading it.

... Read more

 Paperback: 386 Pages (1996-05-15)
list price: US$13.99 -- used & new: US$11.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765336065
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Sauscony Valdoria, linked to the powerful Skolian Web, and the Aristo heir to the evil Trader Empire of Tarnth link minds and fall in love instantly, but to prevent interstellar war, Sauscony must be either his lover or his killer. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (38)

4-0 out of 5 stars Interstellar intrigue and passionate romance
Delos is a member of the Allied Worlds of Earth, who steadfastly maintain neutrality in the war between the Traders and the Skolians. Despite the fact that all of them are human --- Allieds, Traders, and Skolians alike --- they have little in common. So Earth declared Delos a neutral zone, sanctuary, a place where Trader and Skolian soldiers could walk together. A Skolian Jagernaut military cyberfighter team -- Sauscony Valdoria (Primary), Rex (Secondary), Helda and Taas -- notice a group of Traders to bodyguard a Highton Aristo in Delos. The Aristo is young, twenties, but something about him doesn't fit. Aristos socialize with their own only. Their only use for the rest is as objects for barter. The Aristos have reverse psi organs that are turned to feelings of fear, pain by torture from other psions: the more they sense it from their host, the higher their ecstasy. Especially the Rhon empaths generate stronger feelings of pain and are therefore called providers for the intense pleasure they provide to the Aristos. And Sauscony Valdoria, a Rhon empath, would never succumb to being a provider ever again. So, why didn't this Aristo, Jaibrol Qox, turn on her alarms?

The story is about Sauscony "Soz" Valdoria, a bionic woman, space pilot, the next Imperator of Skolian empire, who stems from the upper class of Rhon Psions of the Skolian empire. She is nearing her 50's and has lived all her life in military to prove her worthiness to her brother Kurj, the current Skolian Imperator. As Rhons can practically mate only with other Rhons due to their telepathic compatibilities to support the psiberweb of Skolia, the chance of finding a Rhon companion for her is near zero. During Sauscony's stay in Delos she falls love in Jaibrol, but their destinies are separated: both are heirs to the thrones of their empires in this interstellar war. The only advantage Skolians has is the psychic psiberweb that, among other things, allows instant information transfer. Now the Traders have managed to breed their own Rhon Psion, Jaibrol, who could access the psiberweb and either destroy it, or control it. Nevertheless Sauscony and Jaibrol are drawn to each other, because they are both Rhon. Then Jaibrol is captured by her people and Sauscony has to choose. Will she give up the throne for the man she loves?

Four (4) stars. Written in 1995 the book starts saga of Skolian empire. The book uses mathematic theory of imaginary numbers to present an inversion engine that allows faster than light travel. The series is unique to its mix of hard science and harlequin style romance. At no point is there a pause or time for philosophing. The book presents Sauscony a hormonally affected female whose love affairs are a mixed bag: a platonic matrimony with her close pilot Rex would have been adequate, then again a free vacation in a gorgeous planet gives her a chance to forget and heal; to bed steam hot with a university student over half of her age. In the end nothing compares to the full body and mind blending of another Rhon, Jaibrol. It is clear that the author, woman, writes to the woman audience. Surprisingly females are presented conventionally and bound to their moody feelings, so some scenes as best read in "bold and beautiful" mode while the story progresses. The physics at times may feel a little too "imaginary" as the light speeds reach one million. The romantic elements, that are a strong part of the narrative, take some adjustments but overall this is solid, entertaining, good-old space opera that leaves interesting characters to follow in sequels.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites
Since this book, I've been hooked on reading all of Catherine Asaro's books on the Skolian Empire and the ruling family.Reasons why I love this book and the series:romance, war, large space empires, the focus of the books remains on characters that you care about, each book focuses on the main character of the individual book, the contributions they make to the world and the way that their lives are affected by the conditions of the world they live in.

3-0 out of 5 stars Waiting for resolution (some degree of spoilers included)
I just finished this book last night and don't know quite what to think.

In some areas, I think it was superb. In others, not so much.

I realize that this was Ms. Asaro's first book so I'm thinkin' that some of the structural problems I found or that bothered me may have been resolved in next offerings in this series.

Much to like about it - loved the science and the way that Soz explained things as she went along. Less impressed with the relationship stuff - all the relationships.

As with Tau 4, this book just stopped. After the last page, I was thinking "Wait a minute!" It's all fine and good to watch the sunset from a new home but what about the war!?!

I very much wanted far more character development especially with Kurj. I thought he had a lot of potential that was never explored.

The "hero" Jabriol was a card board character, IMO. Frankly, I thought of him more as Soz's son or little brother than as her lover/husband. I will admit the age difference bothered me. A lot.

It was primarily (~snark~) the turn-about where Soz says she want to be the Imperator while at the same time abandons all of it that really bothered me. That just happened too quickly IMO. I understand that the theory is that they'll come back when it is the "right time" but they have no transportation and the communications device they do have might alert the wrong people to their location. I also think it a little simplistic to assume that these very urban folk (although Soz did grow up with a farmer dad) will have the resources and ability to provide for themselves for dunamany years.

There are other somewhat humanoid life forms on this unknown planet. I am getting all Clan of the Cave Bear in anticipation of the first contact between the indigenous beings and these 2 royal heirs.

As I said, don't know quite what to think. Guess I'll just have to read the next one in the series and see how things progress.

4-0 out of 5 stars Well done story with interesting premise
The setting is well detailed, with some interesting twists in the use of telepathy along with some interesting science.She captures emotions in her characters well and the book builds making it difficult to put down.

2-0 out of 5 stars Good writing and ideas but ultimately unsatisfying
I was impressed by "Aurora in Four Voices," which is one of the author's short stories set in this universe, and read in the foreword to the short story that this series was in the vein of Bujold's Vorkosigan novels.That convinced me to purchase this, her first published novel, in the expectation that I would read the entire series.

Although relatively short, unfortunately the book is an interminable slog filled with plot, character, and logic holes large enough to pass the Milky Way Galaxy through.Clearly, a first novel is a challenge but the result was too disappointing for me to read more in the series despite the fact that a later book, "The Quantum Rose" won the Nebula Award in 2001.Generally, the writing is quite good.Unless.Unless she.Unless she writes.Unless she writes sentences like this.

The book has been criticized for fusing genre romance with hard science, an idea which didn't put me off.However, the result is indeed a disaster.The main character is a silly authorial fantasy combining the solo swagger of a freshly-minted lieutenant with the raw power of an Admiral who happens to be the even more powerful - albeit surreptitious - heir to the throne, a fact she hides from everyone unless she, well, tells them.But.But wait.But wait there's more.

She's also a nearly all-powerful empath/telepath/cybernetic fighting machine under the thumb of her evil brother emperor whom she grudgingly calls "sir" since he's her commanding officer.In her spare time, as if she really were a lieutenant and not an Admiral, she leads a tiny battalion of four "fighter pilots" on highly dangerous solo missions risking her precious psion/imperial DNA.During her adventure, she lusts after the throne and plots conquest/treason.All the while this 47-year-old woman pines after the man she loves as she beds teenagers and really pines after the other man she really loves.

Other books in the series may solve some of these character/logic issues and reach the level evinced in the short story that spurred my initial interest in the Skolian universe.However, this will be the last book in the series I read. ... Read more

4. The Fire Opal (Lost Continent)
by Catherine Asaro
Paperback: 313 Pages (2007-07-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$8.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0373802773
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Deep in the sun-drenched desert, priestess Ginger-Sun carries the power of shape mages. And whispers abound: Is she descended from the beloved Sunset Goddess, or are her nighttime rituals filled with wickedness? Ginger herself is uncertain, until a stranger is left for dead at her feet.

Thence her magic begins to burn.

Fate makes Ginger the stranger's wife and therefore a target for those who would murder this man to crown another—and force her magic into twisted ferocity. For unless Ginger masters her dark powers, violence will rein in Taka Mal—and in her soul. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars loved it
I loved it. Without spoiling it for anyone who hasn't read it I can't say much. But I will say that it was a great view on a man we know little about to this point. And it made it me love him too. This is another great book for the series and I feel a slight sadness that the next book, The Night Bird, is the last for now in the series. I truly hope Catherine Asaro will be writing another one.

1-0 out of 5 stars I haven't been able to finish this book
I've heard a lot of good things about this writer, so I was shocked at how bad this book is.I keep trying to read more, but I just can't.The prose style is wooden at best.The characters are same-old, same-old; the setting is strange--and not in a good way.I've read fan fiction by tenth graders that was better than this.I feel like I should give it more of a chance since I paid good money for it, but it is painful to read.Stay away!

5-0 out of 5 stars Another great book in the Lost Continent-series
It should first be mentioned that this book is part of the Lost Continent-series. The other titles are: Moonglow (in the anthology 'Charmed destinies'), The Charmed Sphere, The Misted Cliffs, The Dawn Star, The Topaz Desert (in the anthology 'Lace and Blade 1'). Fire Opal is followed by The Night Bird, at present the last in the series. The book can be read on its own, but I would recommend reading the rest of the series first.

In an isolated village in the Taka Mal desert, young Ginger-Sun is a priestess to the dragon god. The old-fashioned elders in her village have always made her life difficult, but things become life-threatening when she saves a soldier who was attacked and left for dead in the desert. Soon she is not only accused of seducing a man when she's not supposed to be touched by men, but people also accuse her of witchcraft when they disover her magical abilities. In the end, the soldier - Darz - and Ginger-Sun have no choice but to escape the village, but their way leads them into a conpiracy to conquer Taka Mal and take the throne from the rightful rulers. Ginger-Sun and Darz are the only ones who can save the country...

This is another wonderful book in the series and I enjoyed it a lot. It is darker than some of the other titles, mostly because Ginger-Sun lives in such an unpleasant place full of suppression and superstition, but she's an interesting character, Darz is very attractive and enjoyable and despite all darkness, there is also a sense of humour. I would recommend this book, as well as the rest of the series as well-written fantasy romance novels.

5-0 out of 5 stars Violence in Sky Flames
The Fire Opal (2007) is the fourth fantasy novel in the Lost Continent series, following The Dawn Star.In the previous volume, Mel Dawnfield destroyed a tower from the inside.Cobalt Chamberlight defeated the man who stole his wife.And Drummer Headwind found greater talents within himself.

In this novel, Ginger-Sun is an acolyte of the Dragon-Sun, who blazes in the sky and lights the world.She serves as the priestess in her village of Sky Flames, a small hamlet within Taka Mal.Yet her magic works only at night.

She possesses a fire opal.This four-sided pyramid allows her to create spells of heat and light.She knows nobody else who has such abilities.

Ginger is alone in the RayLight Chamber when a man calls out for her to come quickly.Five miners are waiting in the main temple.They have brought in a body that has been beaten and slashed repeatedly.The miners expect Ginger to perform the death rites.

While Ginger is washing the body in the Sunset Chamber, the bloodshot eyes open.Ginger is startled, but answers his questions as she treats his wounds.Then she uses her magic to relieve his pain.

In this story, Ginger learns that her patient is named Darz Goldstone and that he is a soldier.The miners are surprised that Darz is alive, but they help move him to an empty room.They also fetch blankets and a bed.They want to stay with the man, but Ginger convinces them to return to work.

Then the healer arrives and cleans the wounds.He stitches them up and gives Darz a potion to ease his pain.He cautions Ginger against moving the man and reluctantly advises her to keep him in the temple.

At first Darz sleeps a lot.Ginger brings him food and changes his bandages.As he slowly recuperates, Ginger grows to like the man.

Later Ginger notices someone watching her.There are cries in the night and she is attacked while outside the temple.Then the village Elders have complaints about the presence of Darz within the temple.

This tale slowly reveals the identity and nature of Darz and relates the frictions and conflicts within the village.Finally the villagers accuse Ginger of blasphemy and she has to flee from Sky Flames.Darz becomes her guide and protector in the outside world.

The story describes the religion and customs of Taka Mal in greater detail than the earlier volumes of this series.It also dwells on the politics of small towns within this culture.Naturally, it includes conflict and change as well as the introduction of romance into the life of this temple acolyte.Enjoy!

Note the change in the series name.The new name reflects information introduced in this novel.Moreover, it is probably a better name than the former series title since it doesn't duplicate one of the volume titles.

Highly recommended for Asaro fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of exotic cultures, small town ways, and a budding romance.

-Arthur W. Jordin

3-0 out of 5 stars Light read
I love fantasy with a touch of romance and strong female characters, and this has all the elements I enjoy. It was a light read, no real brain power required. Beware however that we will have to wait for the next in the series. ... Read more

5. The Veiled Web
by Catherine Asaro
Paperback: 368 Pages (1999-12-01)
list price: US$19.00 -- used & new: US$9.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553762702
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Winner of the Homer Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.

Ballerina Lucia del Mar has two great passions: dance, which consumes most of her waking hours, and the World Wide Web, which brings the outside world into her tightly regimented life. Lucia's two passions collide when a White House performance and reception leads to an encounter with handsome Moroccan businessman Rashid al-Jazari, creator of a brilliant technology that has set the Internet rumor mill afire.

A second, seemingly chance meeting with Rashid will plunge Lucia into a deadly world of desire and intrigue. For although his work has implications she cannot foresee, there are those who do understand and would turn its great power to their own destructive purposes. As she is drawn deeper and deeper into Rashid's life and work, cut off from the outside world, she finds herself becoming more attracted to him. But is her seclusion within Rashid's well-guarded Moroccan home intended to ensure her safety...or her silence? And is it already too late to stop the terrible consequences his new technology could unleash?

From the Paperback edition.Amazon.com Review
Catherine Asaro, author of the popular Skolian Empire series that combines hard science with romance in the far future, explores new territory with The Veiled Web.Set in 2010, this story combines romance, suspense, and cutting-edge computer technology in a Moroccan setting.

Lucia del Mar, the heroine, is an internationally renowned dancer who is also familiar with the latest in Internet technology.At a White House dinner she meets Rashid al-Jazari, a Moroccan businessman who has created a hot new virtual-reality suit and software that could revolutionize Web browsing.A second encounter ends up in an attempt to kidnap Rashid and Lucia, forcing them into hiding at his family's Moroccan home.Here Lucia becomes steadily more attracted to him, even as she chafes at the limitations placed on her as a woman in a traditional Muslim household.She also begins to realize the implications of his work, and how dangerous it could be in the wrong hands.

In this near-future thriller, Asaro considers what makes humans human and the similarities between art and science, balancing ethical and religious beliefs with scientific discoveries that open new possibilities. If you're intrigued by artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and VR, you'll enjoy this one. --Nona Vero ... Read more

Customer Reviews (31)

2-0 out of 5 stars Nicely thought provoking about religious differences, but I prefer more emotional entertainment.
Story brief:
This is a story about Rashid a wealthy Muslim man from Morocco who is a software genius.He created an artificial intelligence system named Zaki.He strictly follows all Muslim religious rules including praying five times a day, fasting during daylight hours during Ramadan, etc.Lucia is a high school dropout from New Mexico, who is one of the leading ballerinas in the world and devoutly Catholic.Rashid has admired Lucia for five years and traveled many times to see her perform.He sees her in a café in Sicily and offers her a ride which she accepts.The driver had drugged their beverages causing them to pass out.He is part of a kidnapping group.The kidnappers want Zaki and Rashid's services to modify it for their purposes.Rashid and Lucia are taken in a private plane to Algeria, where they are able to get free.A single woman can not travel with Rashid in that country, so they get married and then flee to his home in Marrakech, Morocco.She stays in his home with his extended family for a few weeks, experiencing life in the Muslim world.

Story Ideas:
This story is primarily an exploration of cultural and religious differences between Catholic Lucia and Muslim Rashid.There is a lot of discussion about how they cannot be together because of their differences.He would like her to live in seclusion in Marrakech away from the public and not to be seen dancing on stage in scanty clothing.Her life and identity is dancing.She could never be happy if she had to give it up.Additional discussion concerns Rashid's ideals of helping people come together from every religion to meet and accept each other in peace.The author provides some interesting ideas about what artificial intelligence might be like, with Lucia having conversations with Zaki (the AI software).Lucia and Zaki also go exploring web sites together.

Reviewer's Opinion:
The story would be interesting for readers wanting to think about these ideas.There are some thrills due to two kidnapping attempts with interesting escapes.There is a gentle romantic development as Lucia and Rashid fall in love with each other.My major problem is that I was not drawn in emotionally.I didn't feel for the characters.I don't' know, but maybe part of the problem was a lack of vulnerability in the characters.I want to feel sympathy, humor, surprise or delight.I don't require all of those, but I'm trying to suggest something that might have made it better for me.I did not find this enjoyable entertainment.It was more of a thoughtful discussion.

Story length: 355 pages.Sexual language: none.Number of sex scenes: 2.Length of sex scenes: about 1 sentence each.These were told/referred to, not shown.Setting: current day U.S., Sicily, Algeria and Morocco.Copyright: 1999.Genre: contemporary romance.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating glimpses
Catherine Asaro's bio at the back of this novel informs the reader that she has a background in chemical physics, physics, chemistry and ballet, all of which are reflected here. With prima ballerina Lucia del Mar and computer genius Rashid al-Jazari as her protagonists, Ms. Asaro offers us truly fascinating glimpses into the possibilities of the internet, artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Written in assured and elegant prose.

The attraction/repulsion of Hispanic-American Lucia and Moroccan-Islamic Rashid receives an intelligent, subtle and tender treatment. Both are shy people who are made even more vunerable by their cultural differences, but they love each other too much and are willing to compromise (which is resolved credibly).

'The Veiled Web' is told from Lucia's point of view and in my opinion she's a sympathetic and strong heroine. Although shy she's certainly no wimp and stands her ground. Lucia's shyness shows in the earlier scenes with Rashid and later with his family (though they're portrayed with respect and depth). But this story lacks Rashid's perspective. I would have enjoyed seeing things also through him (he's too often shipped off to corporation meetings). Nevertheless Lucia remains a worthy narrative vehicle.

Then, there's Zaki the A.I. created by Rashid and indeed aptly called his son. He's a wonderful character: witty, vunerable, poignant and tender. Zaki absolutely shines in every scene. Lucia's interactions with Zaki truly sparkle, I loved it when she took him out on the web. With Zaki Lucia is completely at ease, their chemistry is simply excellent! I grieved with Lucia for Zaki's eventual tragic fate.

My praise also in regard with Lucia's passion for dance and the web. The dance scenes were very well done since the author could draw on her own experience. The reader really got an idea what dancing means to Lucia.

3-0 out of 5 stars A little uneven
Catherine Asaro's ability to weave science with fiction remains unequaled.The writing is supurb, and I like they way, particularly with the world situation as it is, that she integrates principles of Islam into the plot.I lived in Sicily and have been to Taoromina, and it is exactly as she describes it.

The problem is the plot.No one would believe that the heroine got married and spent that long as a virgin.No one would believe that her newly-wedded husband would trot off to another North African country and leave his wife with a group of strangers with whom she cannot communicate, flying in periodically on his private jet--staying the night, and the happy couple do not engage in marital relations--for weeks. Very little happened in the middle of the book.The beginning is supurb.The action at the end and the kidnapping scenarios are great, but the entire middle is flat, except with Lucia's involvement with the computer, which is wonderful. The other rich descriptions (from a ballet fan) are the dance scenes, and the first chapter of the book is especially effective.

Some reviews here state that this is more a romance novel than science fiction.I can't agree.It's too flat and too slow. The only element that the book would need is more action throughout. The Skolian novels are much better examples of what Asaro can do with plot.


2-0 out of 5 stars Can't compare with her Skolian series
It's hard to believe this is the same author who brought us into the fascinating world of her Skolian series. This novel is romance with just a dash of scifi/cyberpunk thrown in. Disappointing, at times even trite. But don't let this book turn you off of her other gems.

3-0 out of 5 stars More for romance readers than science fiction fans
Fearing that she was becoming too immersed in her dancing, Lucia del Mar's parents introduced her to computers and, by extension, to the world of the Internet.Now the net has become a necessary outlet in her regimented life, and she follows its developments closely.When she meets a handsome Moroccan businessman at a White House reception, and realizes that he is the creator of a remarkable new technology, she is intrigued and attracted, but nothing prepares her for the storm of intrigue that rips her away from her world and throws her into his, bringing her virtually face-to-face with a technological advance so important that there are people willing to kill for it.

Cyberspace, virtual reality and artificial intelligence are all hot items in the Science Fiction community right now.As the world moves deeper and deeper into the information age, the questions posed by Asaro and other authors become more pertinent:What are the limits of cyberspace?What is reality?Can a machine be self-aware?And how does humanity fit into this brave new world?Neal Stephenson and William Gibson are exploring this territory with a good deal of vigor and inventiveness, in dense, quirky narratives which push the limits of reader as well as writer. In that company, Asaro is something of a lightweight.Even Zaki, the computer which, or perhaps more properly, who seems even more self-aware in many ways than his creator, pales by comparison to Mike from Robert Heinlein's great 1966 novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.Ultimately Veiled Web is an uneven mix of science fiction and romance.Asaro has all the credentials, and her previous titles have been well-received in the SF community so I can only assume that the problem lies with the subject matter, that the sub-genre that's come to be known as "Cyber Punk" is simply not one which mixes well with other genres.

Because Asaro is a good, competent writer, this is especially unfortunate.She knows how to tell a story, but it seems that her story works against her here.Her hero is ostensibly Rashid al-Jazari, but in fact, the real hero of the book appears to be the computer, Zaki, who is far more interesting, likeable and appealingly vulnerable than his maker.Because of that, and because of the romance between Rashid and Lucia, Zaki's fate is pretty much a given, and both storylines are shortchanged.I don't honestly know if anyone is capable of doing a much better job balancing such disparate elements, and I give Asaro points for trying.She has a real feel for the culture of the Internet and writes with authority about computers and dance.The only weakness I can find here is that her characterization is not as deft as it could be, and that does contribute to the unevenness of the narrative.

If you're a fan of Cyber Punk, don't bother with this one, but if you're looking for a romance with some good, solid science fiction elements, then give this a try. ... Read more

6. The Last Hawk
by Catherine Asaro
Mass Market Paperback: 480 Pages (1998-12-15)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$0.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812551109
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
When Kelric, a scion of the imperial family of Skolia, crash-lands his fighter on the off-limits planet of Coba, he figures it will be only a short time before he makes his way home. But he fails to account for the powerful matriarchy of Coba, the mistresses of the great estates who do not want the Empire to know about their recent cultural advances.

First they take him prisoner.

Then, one by one, the most powerful women on the planet fall in love with him!
... Read more

Customer Reviews (22)

3-0 out of 5 stars Solid novel, solid world creation
For those with short attention spans, I've put my pros/cons right at the top:

* Excellent cultural depth in world creation (not subtly written)
* Story grabs you from the beginning and doesn't let go until a flabby point somewhere between pages 300 and 400 and then accelerates to a Hollywood finale
* Emotional ending is worth all the build up
* Writing style is SMOOTH

* Ending leaves significant logical gaps (i.e. NON-SPOILER: Miesa is not Varz [in terms of the agreement]);
* Inexperienced writing shows through in a few places (how many times does a character spread his/her hands?)
* At times, reads like over-exaggerated "chick lit". Maybe the entire book could be classified this way, but that's not how I took it. However, there were some sections that felt out of place.

As far as speculative fiction goes, this effort by Catherine Asaro is solid from start to finish. Her writing style is a breeze to read and the page count flies by. Asaro has excellent skills at world creation and brings a depth of culture to the story. The flipping our gender-role preconceptions on its head makes for interesting reading and she gets away with some elements a male author might not.

By the time I got to V: Varz, I felt the material was re-tracing several themes from II: Haka, just in a harsher way. Also, I had a difficult time buying Kelric's acceptance of everything -- he's thrown into a world that has a social structure nearly opposite of his own and I never felt his frustration bubble to the top. Instead he just broods in semi-private isolation.

This book makes an excellent "borrow from a friend" choice, or a library soft-cover exchange. Asaro fans should buy it, as should anyone who might take his or her time reading the ~450 page count.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Last Hawk
1st book I've read by this author. Waiting(may have borrow from library if they don't come soon) formore of the seris then I can start from the beginning.Then I will get the rest of hers.....

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Sci-Fi

I'm not some Sci-Fi nut who's gonna cite little nit-picking points about the saga or the ongoing storyline...What I am going to tell you is that this book, with it's gender role reversal, descriptiveness, and localized storyline....Was enought to keep me happily page turning...This was a great book, well written, imaginative, and easily stands alone from the rest of Asaro's books...Nuff Said.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating New Twist on Interstellar Relations
THE LAST HAWK is the fourth installment in the Saga of the Skolian Empire. It stars Kelric Valdoria Skolia, Jagernaut Tertiary, third heir to Skolian Imperator, Kurj. The story takes place during the same period as the two tales of his sister Sauscony and Jabriol Qox II, PRIMARY INVERSION and THE RADIANT SEAS. Having said that, THE LAST HAWK is a vastly different sort of tale from the aforementioned titles.

When Kelric's crippled starfighter kicks out of inversion in an unfamiliar part of the universe, he realizes that he must find a place to land or perish. Already injured he crash lands on Coba, a planet on the ISC restricted list.

Quarantined by their own request, the Coban's are forbidden to interact with Skolians. Thus defines the conflict when the crash is viewed and the rescue team realizes that the victim is indeed a member of that race. Should they break the rules and save his life, or deliver him to the starport assuring his death?

It is clear early on that the inhabitants have descended from the same ancestors as the Skolians. Through geographical isolation their society had developed quite differently. They have not yet attained the technical advancements of Kelric's world. Though they possessed fliers, the had not achieved space flight. The planet's restricted status is basically unnecessary, as Kelric would soon learn. In order to preserve their freedom, Kelric's is forfeit. They save his life but he will never be allowed to return home.

Coba is under matriarchal rule; women being the more aggressive sex. They hold the power, ruling the estates, making all of the major decisions. The men are either, demure and virginal mate prospects, kasi/consorts, prostitutes, or Calani/ master Quiz players.

The latter are the closest to being influential in this female dominated society. They are the men behind the woman, plying their dice playing skills for the benefit of their estate Manager. They are the historians, diplomats, and strategists. They are cloistered, prized and protected, and bound by a most restrictive oath that keeps the power firmly in the hands of the women.

Quiz has long since replaced warfare as means of resolving issues and settling disputes. It reflects the history of the culture, the current political climate, the mood of the player himself.

Because of who he is and his physical desirability, Kelric the space warrior soon finds himself "imprisoned" within his savior's Calanya, where he must follow the rules in order to survive. With a penchant for mathmatics, and empathic mind, a lengthy period of isolation, his skill at the game becomes phenomenal. This and his exceptional beauty whets the desire of virtually every major estate manager on the planet. Each will vie for possession, to the extent of obsession for one.

Captivity does not set well with Kelric, not only is his spirit dampened, his body is in great need of repair but the technology does not exist to rejuvenate him. The environment is taking its toll as well, the food, the atmosphere, even his own healing agents are beginning to poison him. As the Quiz imparts Coba's history to Kelric, so too does he impart his own Skolian culture and values to others. One woman's desire to possess and another's to defend him have near critical consequences. Only the restraint and clear headedness of the others will spare their way of life.

Though he eventually becomes an unprecedented sixth level Quis master, and has even found love a time or two, none of this has occurred by his choice. Even were it not evident that he will soon die without the technological advances of his own world, even though he has no idea what has transpired in the decade and half he's been absent, even though he will have to leave his own flesh and blood behind, Kelric's driving desire is to return home. In spite of the havoc his presence has wreaked on their world, he leaves behind a lesson and a legacy that will hold the Cobans in good stead in the future. His story continues in ASCENDANT SUN.

I liked the different twist this story possessed, taking a man who has come to rely on high technology, and reducing him to relying on his wits; a man accustomed to leading forced to follow, a prince forced to be a consort, unable to fight and at the mercy of others. I truly enjoyed the role reversal, it was fun picturing males as too flighty for major decision making or leadership roles, their indignant responses to sexual overtures, all the stereotypical female behavior. This story pokes fun at these stereotypes in a way that shows just how ridiculous they truly are.

Reviewed for PNR Reviews

5-0 out of 5 stars Absorbing blend of SF adventure, social commentary, and romance
Coba is the only human-inhabitable planet close enough for Skolian warrior Kelric to reach in his mortally damaged fighter. The Empire's heir is astounded, upon regaining consciousness with injuries from both battle and crash landing, to discover that this restricted world actually has a thriving Human population. It's restricted only because its people want it that way. They prefer to keep their freedom, and do without Skolian technology. Which won't be possible any longer, of course, if they let Kelric go home; because Kelric will surely tell his half-brother the Imperator the truth about Coba.

Deha Dahl, Manager of Dahl Estate, insists on rescuing the stranger and providing him with medical care. What to do with him after he recuperates presents Manager Dahl with a dilemma, though. On Coba, women rule and men keep to their ordained place in society. Females on this world are larger, stronger, and trained from birth to consider themselves biologically superior to males. Kelric doesn't fit into this paradigm at all. He's a warrior, his body enhanced by technology, and he's determined to go back where he belongs. Which Manager Dahl can't allow to happen - but what she doesn't realize is that every day Kelric spends on Coba will change her world, unpredictably and beyond reversing.

Author Asaro does a fine job of turning gender conventions upside down and inside out in her depiction of Coban culture. My only criticism of this otherwise absorbing blend of science fiction adventure, social commentary, and romance is one point on which I couldn't suspend disbelief. Did no man on Coba, Kelric included, ever suffer an episode of impotence? Not even under conditions where...well, never mind. :-) If I get more specific than that, I'll be committing spoilage; and I'd hate to ruin for anyone else a book that I thoroughly enjoyed otherwise. 4 1/2 stars rounded up to 5.
... Read more

7. The Phoenix Code
by Catherine Asaro
Paperback: 352 Pages (2000-11-28)
list price: US$19.00 -- used & new: US$11.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553762710
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Deadly awakening
When robotics expert Megan O'Flannery is offered the chance to direct MindSim's cutting-edge program to develop a self-aware android, it's the opportunity of a lifetime. But the project is trouble plagued--the third prototype "killed" itself, and the RS-4 is unstable. Megan will descend into MindSim's underground research lab in the Nevada desert, where she will be the sole human in contact with the RS-4, dubbed Aris. Programmed as part of a top-secret defense project, the awakening Aris quickly proves to be deviously resourceful and basically uncontrollable. When Megan enlists the help of Raj Sundaram, the quirky, internationally renowned robotics genius, the android develops a jealous hostility toward Raj--and a fixation on Megan. But soon she comes to realize that Raj may be an even greater danger--and that her life may depend on the choice she makes between the man she wants to trust and the android she created.

From the Paperback edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

4-0 out of 5 stars Engaging and exciting science fiction romance
Dr. Megan O'Flannery dodges her parents' questions about her love life (their goal: grandchildren!) and pursues her career. When she accepts her dream job, helping an experimental android develop a sufficiently "human" personality to make him successful in his destined role as an intelligence operative, she has no idea she'll soon be isolated in an underground complex with the android and the world's greatest robotics genius: Dr. Chandrarajan "Raj" Sundaram. Nor does she imagine that she and Raj will wind up kidnapped by their android protege, or that she'll soon be forced to make repeated choices between trusting her mysterious colleague and trusting the human-created being that she regards as humanity's great hope for the future.

Despite its familiar theme, this book succeeds as both science fiction and romance novel. It's an exciting, fast-paced read (that cliche really does fit), with engaging characters and a plot twist that is foreshadowed but never given away beforehand. The one problem I had was, oddly enough, with Megan. I love strong, brilliant female protagonists, so I found it surprising when I couldn't fully inhabit this one's skin. That's because I couldn't quite buy into her willingness to let herself be abused and endangered by her creation, sexually as well as in other ways, over and over, in the name of nobly advancing science. Your mileage may vary.

--Reviewed by Nina M. Osier, author of "High Places" and 2005 EPPIE winner "Regs"

5-0 out of 5 stars So many questions so few answers
Very few books have affected me the way this one did.I read it in bits in pieces, because I simply didn't want it to end.Every layer of every character had tobe savored and thought about as we, the readers and they, the characters, try to answer what it means to be human?Do we have the right to create a new species - robot?What will that mean to us? To them?Will they have the same morals? Ethics?Needs?
Put a wonderful love story into that, with two brilliant if slightly dented people.
As usual, Asaro uses the convetions of both science fiction and romance to build something more, something deeper than the sum of both parts
The story revolves around and is told from the POV of Megan O'Flannery, a sweet, lonely robotics engineer who is hired to work on an Android.Along for the ride is the brilliant, sexy and seriously eccentric Raj.Then the Android goes off the deep end and all havoc ensues.
1. Rich language
2. Layered characters
3. Deep questions
4. Wonderful love story
5. Ander - he is wonderfully developed.We never experience that clunky writing that sometimes appears when an adult writer is trying to remember being a child.

1. Too damned short!

3-0 out of 5 stars Pitfalls of AI
Here comes a good SciFi read which will take you on a journey that is filled with all kinds of ride.

Ander is an advanced android who looks and acts and behaves exactly like a human being.If you see Ander along with a human being you cant tell the android apart from the human being.Now this particular android can also fix itself. So far so good. But always there is a "ghost in the machine". There is a self evolving code within Ander's positronic brain which can put humanity to danger. What if an android can think and have similar emotions to ours? Two scientists are in charge of this Robot. They fall into a web of games and deciets.Thats the fun part of the story.

Catherine Asaro has explored pitfalls of AI to some good extent in the story.She also uses Asimov's three robotic laws to make her plot interesting.Overall if you are looking for good quick sci-fi read then I will recommend you this.Things are bit repetitive in the story.But the plot is good.

1-0 out of 5 stars cliche
I have read a few of Asaro's books.Based on my previous reads, I do not really know why I picked this book.

I only read to page 13.Maybe I am not being fair.But with lines like "the stranger had dark eyes and tousled black curls" I understood that this book was not my cup of tea.

Also, most scientists at a conference do not and would not wear casual clothes.They would wear business suits or something formal.

4-0 out of 5 stars A bit heavy handed but interesting
I found "The Phoenix Code" to be a bit repetitive and heavy handed throughout most of the middle of the book, but the beginning was skillful enough to capture my interest, and the ending was exciting, well done and sufficiently rewarding that I can recommend this book.

The characterization was very well done, with Megan, Ander and Raj quite fleshed out (an android pun?) and believable.The plot was not very complex, but I found it intriguing and worthwhile.

All in all, not an important read, but a good one. ... Read more

8. Schism: Part One of Triad (Saga of the Skolian Empire) (Pt. 1)
by Catherine Asaro
 Hardcover: 400 Pages (2004-12-01)
list price: US$25.95 -- used & new: US$9.92
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B001G8WP5I
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

In 2002, Catherine Asaro won the Nebula Award for The Quantum Rose, the sixth novel in her Saga of the Skolian Empire. This very same novel was also named Best SF Novel by the Romantic Times. Schism: Part One of Triad is the tenth novel in this multiple award-winning series, and represents an excellent entry point into the series.

For Schism harkens back to the early years of the Skolian Empire, back to the beginning of the war between Skolia and the Euban Traders. Twenty-three years have passed since the fateful vote in the Skolian Assembly that Roca missed in Skyfall. It created the first open hostility between Eube and Skolia, which has only deepened over the ensuing years.

Now, Eube senses an opportunity, for strife has riven the first family of the Skolian Empire. Sauscony, the daughter of Roca and Eldrinson, is ready to seek her fortune as an officer-in-training in the Skolian military. When her father forbids her to undertake such a dangerous path, a wedge is formed as Soz chooses duty over family. Eube hopes to make this permanent, a divide that will leave the Skolian Empire ripe for conquest. And they're willing to kill anyone to make it happen.

Revel in the latest adventure of this Nebula Award-winning series.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Book, Schism by Catherine Asaro
Schism is part 1 of a side-story in a long and complicated SF series by Catherine Asaro.

The most notable thing about Catherine's writing is that has a lot of good science in her SF.This is the real stuff not a copy of someone else's SF writing.

This side-story is a Triad that forms part of the Skolian Empire Series, it is a good read and fills in some of the answers in the series.I enjoyed reading it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Schism
All of the Skolian Empire books are an exciting read. The characters come to life and the reader becomes a part of that world. Highly recommend all of Catherine Asaro's books.

4-0 out of 5 stars Simply excellent
Schism is not my favorite book but it's definetly on my list for "Read again in the future"! I am pleased to tell all of you that this book was extremely well-written. I LOVE to read well-written books. The plot is made realistically as also the characters actions and emotions. Despite the fact that every once in a while you'll get "lost" and not know exactly what's going on that'll soon pass and you'll be stuck in reading once more. You'll definetly want to try out Schism.

Soz is a girl dreaming of becoming a J-Force pilot. Her time comes when her step-brother Kurj needs an heir and picks her and her older brother, Althor. Her leaving is upsetting. Her father, his majesty, Eldrinson, the ruler of the Ruby Dynasty doesn't and hasn't ever approved of Soz fighting. He doesn't wish for his daughter to die on the battlefield so he banishes her for leaving and Althor for bringing her with him. That's nothing but trouble for them but they leave anyway and they begin their adventure.

This book is breath-taking and will leave you searching for the sequel. I hope that you all take a chance and try out this wonderful novel. Enjoy!

5-0 out of 5 stars Riveting Story
Asaro rocks us again with a great story. Fans of romance might not like this one as much as her other books in the Raylicon universe -- there are no love scenes. However, being the fabulous storyteller that she is, she again artfully mixes science, scientific speculation, paranormal, and genuine human struggle as Soz and her family each make their way through the obstacles in their path. You'll relate to all her characters and cheer them on to the finish. Of course the end of this book isn't really the finish: there's another book in the 2-book "Triad" group called The Final Key. Slightly confusing, the labeling Triad, but fans who've read the previous books will have no trouble with the reference to the Ruby Dynasty Triad that keeps the Kyle "net" running the Raylicon universe. I especially enjoyed the thread of Schism that deals with one of Soz's younger brothers, Shannon. He is genetically descended from a group called the Blue Dale Archers. Their looks and manner are very elf-like. Shannon is a wonderfully drawn character who, at 15, faces great obstacles to help save his family and find his place in the world. Thoroughly enjoyable and highligh recommended!

4-0 out of 5 stars Young Soz
Asaro books are sprinled with strong female characters. Soz is my favorite. In this book we find out what Soz was like as an adolescent(17 years old). As befits the future Imperator of the Skolian empire Soz is brilliant, driven, opiniated. She has already created some waves; hacking into the computer complex of her planetary system; having the best test score of ten million. However she has not yet found the balance which comes with age and experience. She argueswith her father; her father disowns her, she argues with her superior officer and gets demerits. Under all this though; Soz has grit & integrity. She always comes through in the end. This is the story of Soz going to military academy against the wishes of her father, becoming a Jagernaut (cybernetic warrior); and how circumstances combine for a father/daughter reconciliation. I wait impatiently for the next book. The Final Key : Part Two of Triad. Hoping for a description of my favorite hero in combat situation for the first time. ... Read more

9. The Night Bird
by Catherine Asaro
Paperback: 576 Pages (2008-07-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$6.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0373802684
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
For centuries the women of Aronsdale have lived freely among the green and misted valleys. Creatures of exotic beauty and sensuality, theypossesspowerfulskillsofenchantment…andyoungAllegro isnodifferent.Butherlife—andAronsdale'sindependence—is threatenedwhenJazidnomadsinvade,carryingAllegrointothe desert as a prized trophy…or worse.

Until an unexpected ally falls under her spell. From the moment feared Jazid warrior Markus Onyx sees the alluring beauty, he knows he has found his queen.

But even the promise of love cannot quell Allegro's determination to save her homeland. Summoning her powers, she casts herself north—out of passion's grip—and into the dark heart of conflict.… ... Read more

Customer Reviews (18)

1-0 out of 5 stars ugh.
ugh.Catherine Asaro - I love everything you've ever written until this one.A classic case of stockholm syndrome.It would have been better if our "hero" was not a rapist who surrounds himself with dispicable people.I hated him from the beginning, and he didn't redeem himself.

2-0 out of 5 stars Jimbo
I read and admire Catherine Asaro and my comments are based on her established standards. If 'the Night Bird' was written by a new author i would be thinking of great potential from that person. That is not the case and i found the story bland and shallow, as if it was a draft awaiting a stronger characterisation during further development. i will continue to buy Catherine Asaro, because i think this was the exception to her rule.

5-0 out of 5 stars loving it!
I'm still reading it but only have 6 chapters left. I started reading the series when I found The Charmed Sphere in my favorite second hand book store and I couldn't put it down. When I went to look for more like it, I was delighted to find it was a series and I lucked out to have started with the first one. I've loved all of them. I thought I would tire of the plots from book to book but they differ so to the point that even though they are similar in nature, they are still fresh and new and intriguing to read. I am unable to put the book down. I force myself so I can go on with day to day activities. I am very sad that there are no more after this one but I understand that Catherine Asaro wants to write more but hasn't have time. So there is hope for the adventure to continue after The Night Bird! She wants to write about Price Aron's story. I've talked to her on Facebook and she is so nice and talks to everyone. I can't wait to finish this book to find out what happens but I also don't want it to end. It's all so lovely!

4-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining if unrealistic
I would not say that this book has any lasting literary value, but it was a pleasurable way to spend an afternoon. I enjoyed the change in perspective, and was as interested in how Asaro resolved the plot arching (the conflict between the royal families) through the series as the standalone romance of this book.

The interactions between the two main characters are not what I would consider realistic, but this is a romantic fantasy after all. I felt that Asaro did a good enough job developing their characters that it didn't seem too contrived.

I would not recommend this book to a feminist. Also, be aware that there are parts of the book that are sexually explicit.

2-0 out of 5 stars so close...
I think this book had potential. The idea was good but in the end like a few others I just couldn't believe it. Imagine if you will being a young woman, kidnapped from your own country while on your way to a mage guild to study, auctioned off to the highest bidder as a sex slave and taken away from everything you know. This plot has potential to be a gripping tale but so many times when Asaro could have taken her characters into a great story she went down a disappointing path. Markus I think was supposed to somehow be nice but he still had no qualms about buying a sex slave that he and his "general" requested be looked for and captured so they can buy her. Yeah ...real dreamy. Then of course he doesn't want to have sex with her without her consent cause he's such a romantic...so naturally he waits till she falls asleep the first night. Because we all know if she's unconscious it isn't saying "no." Wow, what a great guy. Does he hit her? Yes but only twice with a belt, really hard, but it was on her rear. That's not bad is it? He does parade her around half naked every chance he gets in front of his men who all want to beat and rape her especially his general, which is odd since all other women in that culture we come across are mostly covered up. But hey he's a complicated guy right? I mean he did have a sexual love affair with one of his male army commanders. I think this is supposed to illustrate his sensitive side. Are you girls falling head over heals yet? Well you should because you better believe that after he took her virginity away while she slept, spanked her as hard as he could and paraded her around for like two or three days she willingly had sex with him again cause well ...she was falling in love with him. I mean who wouldn't! Did I mention she agreed (i use the term agreed here loosely) to marry him at this point? Dream come true! I mean ...really? I was prepared for their "love' to grow in time but ...after two days and all of like five "conversations" she's falling for the guy? Yeah what girl kidnapped and raped wouldn't be ready to fall in love? Who knew Stockholm syndrome took hold so fast. I really just don't know where the "love" came in or the affection. The fact that he never acknowledges the fact that he had her stolen or that he knew it was illegal even though EVERYONE knows it... is one of the most irritating points. I mean I could respect him a little if he said at some point "you know what? they DID steal you, and I DID know about it and I can see it being wrong but that's all we know and i'm sorry for taking you away from your life" but he refuses to even acknowledge that she was taken from within her own country let alone that he enslaved her illegally.After 12 days (yes days) of this kind of romantic atmosphere she runs off with Markus' little brother, the heir to the thrown he and his men are trying to win back. This was my favorite part of the story. But she does this feeling conflicted because of her love for Markus...yes after 12 days. The story gets kind of good with all the matters of state when she runs to her land to warn her king of her husband and his general's plans but it isn't long before she falls back into the hands of her husband's general (yes the same scum bag that tortured ginger-sun from The Fire Opal) and of course he beats the hell out of Allegra for over an hour till he collapses from exhaustion. He planned for 16 hours but she escapes before that, lucky girl that she is. When she gets back and Markus learns of this he wants to kill his general but he QUICKLY gets over that and refuses to do anything against his pal. I mean...he's such a good general Markus argues to Allegra. At this point I too wished Cobalt would execute Markus because Allegra was clearly the stupidest heroine I've ever read about. Not only did i lose respect for Markus at this point but also for her. The story goes on mainly setting up a future story about the boy king and ends "well" with her and Markus living as prisoners of state in Taka Mal and Markus agrees to give this "marriage thing" a try. The end. ... Read more

10. Catch The Lightning (The Saga of the Skolian Empire)
by Catherine Asaro
Mass Market Paperback: 320 Pages (1997-10-15)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$2.35
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812551028
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In the distant future, the Skolian empire rules one third of the human galaxy, and is the most powerful of all. For the ruling family has the power of telepathy, and through it, the ability to communicate faster than light across the interstellar space. but their most determined enemy, the traders, who thrive on human pain, need to interbreed with a Skolian to gain their powers. And now they have her.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (32)

5-0 out of 5 stars A synthesis of special relativity, alternate history, sex, romance, and adventure
I decided to read this book after the charismatic and vivacious author gave an invited talk at my research institution.It is worth noting that her unique take on special relativity and transluminal space travel has been published in an archival physics journal and that she has been employed by a government research organization to provide them with a window on this issue.I should also note that one of the fight scenes between the hero and one of the villains is described with an elegance that reflects her career as a dancer with the associated understanding of choreography.I found this novel to be well plotted and filled with energy and engaging characters.She lays the groundwork for her world in a lucid manner and them supplies it with plenty of steam that doesn't even come close to losing pressure as the story approaches its conclusion.

3-0 out of 5 stars A parallel universe Earth girl marries with Skolian empire Romeo
Los Angeles, 1987. A thousand years in the past, in parallel universe. One of the heirs' of Skolian empire, Althor's, Jag spaceship was sabotaged. His faster than light engine called inversion drive malfunctioned and he ends up on earth. But not the earth he quite knew. Akustina (Tina) Santis Pulikov is heading down a side street. Most of the street lamps were dark. Two blocks later she becames aware of an odd sensation. A trickle that rans over her arms like a torrent of warm air. A man is holding a box that humms and glitters with color. The man's attention is fixed on it. Althor. What is the man doing there?

After the female hero from the first book, bio-engineered Sauscony "Soz" Lahaylia Valdoria, we are presented her older brother Althor Vyan Selei. The fans of the first book might have expected Sauscony's story to continue but here were are thrown to familiarize the Skolian empire's dynasty from another angle. The gorgeous Spanish, Tina, is attracted to this handsome, muscular, stranger and she can't explain why. Althor's physical appearance becomes more evident when she learns after quickly falling into bed that he's half cybernetic. The extensive body modifications were needed to save Althor's life at birth. The Mayan roots of Tina turn out to be significant: she is also Rhon Psion, like Althor. The Rhons are a rare species of empaths who have special organs in their brains to send and receive psionic messages. The Earth Air Force detects the Jag on orbit and law enforcement pursues to capture the "alien". With the help of Tina's Cal Tech friends they sneak into the military installation and evade with the Jag. Tina takes a leap of faith to follow Althor to his universe unlike her own. Marriage, close relationship to spacecraft Jag (Althor's mind link), are the hard science fiction in this installment.

Three (3) stars. Written in 1996 this is book 2 in the saga of Skolian Empire. Chronologically it would best to read this book only after book 3 The Radiant Seas (1998) because the events take place fifty years after Radiant Seas. Usually parallel universe stories require complete world building to be believable but here everything snugs tightly on vivid surroundings and life of Tina where Althor is adapted. The close relationship of the two is developed with a firm dialog that knits well the first half of the book. The second half of the book kicks in a combat mode and we experience action: missiles swarm against Jag trying to escape from earth, mercenaries in Althor's universe, pain-and-pleasure torture from the opposing Eusebian empire, a space station combat and reunion of Althor with his royal family. The exotic Mayan heritage that amplify Tina's unique blood line to Raylicans -- a displaced group of Maya from Earth and the descendants of the pure original Earth seed -- tries to combine history and religion and act as a glue between Tina and Althor. However parallelism of religion and history is a bit lumpy or pronounced with double wedding seremonies. The story rifes with complex emotions: Althor is both strong and mentally vulnerable due to his handicap. Tina is frightened young girl that must copy extremely quickly to future and to a status of the Skolian throne. The hot coupling between 17 year old Tina and vigorous Althor in his 50's might not have been the most prudent setup for everybody. It is also a stretch that Tina, a labor girl, could cope with the culture shock as quickly as presented in the novel. The book exhibits mathematics like Riemann sheets to discuss the inversion drive, hot but quality harlequin prose, a strong feel of empire in strife; hallmark of a space opera. Overall a good piece of entertainment to spend time with.

3-0 out of 5 stars Frustrating!
Asaro is unmatched in world building. Catch The Lightning (The Saga of the Skolian Empire)appears to be the vehicle used to set up the universe of the Skolian empire. Therefore, although a very good story with very interesting characters, it is disproportionally filled with history (some of it alternative for Earth) and religious tie-ins. All of it interesting, some of it a slogging read. That being said I am thrilled with the "science." Asaro is one of the few writers in the genre who give us some time and effort on explaining the various technologies and how they work in that futuristic universe.

I was uncertain of my reaction to the first in this series, Primary Inversion (The Saga of the Skolian Empire) and remain uncertain now. Frankly, my favorite character in Lightning is "Jag" and I hope we see him again in other books about the Skolian Empire.No mention was ever made of the characters from Inversion except for Jaibriol so it is difficult to place each book in a sequential timeline. However, the publication dates tell me this came second so I have to assume that is the case.

Frustrating - but probably intentional on the part of Asaro and the publishers - because I want to know more and the only way I can learn is to read more in the series. Feels sorta like blackmail in some sense. I don't really "enjoy" these books but they have hooked me with only two. Perhaps I'll find more pleasure in the next offering.

1-0 out of 5 stars Romance squicked me out....
I listened to the unabridged audio edition of this novel. It starts off okay with a youngLos angelean teen discovering a cyborg-like pilot Althor from the future. She takes him home and eventually they have sex. He is 50+ years old and she is 17. The age discrepancy really squicked me out. I'm not a prude, but this story was not to my taste. What's with Asaro and her huge age gaps anyway?I dunno, I was disappointed.I prefer characters to be closer and age.

As far as the narration goes- Anna Fields has never been a favorite, her masculine voices sound goofy and stilted. 1 star.

4-0 out of 5 stars Another great Skolian story
This story kept me glued until my eyes couldn't focus any longer.Hard science fiction, a few erotic scenes, a very cool way of dealing with faster-than-light travel, and a budding promise that the Rhon may not become extinct after all.I can't wait for the next installment in the Skolian series!Taken together, they make a most wonderful universe.These novels would make an incredible TV series, but Hollyweird couldn't do them justice. ... Read more

11. Alpha (Sunrise Alley)
by Catherine Asaro
Mass Market Paperback: 368 Pages (2007-11-27)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$2.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1416555129
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Charon was the most ruthless—and brilliant—criminal of the twenty-first century, a practitioner of illegal robotics and android research. He is dead now, and General Thomas Wharington believes his team of experts has deleted all the electronic copies the megalomaniacal inventor created of himself. However, one major problem remains: Alpha,

the only android survivor of Charon's cybernetic empire. Outwardly indistinguishable from a human woman, Alpha has superhuman strength and speed, and perhaps even more deadly capabilities still unknown. Thomas's superiors want her dismantled and studied, but to Thomas it feels like murder. He stalls for time, a move that could prove disastrous. Alpha escapes from an escape-proof compound, kidnaps Thomas, and takes him to one of Charon's hidden installations. Charon might be dead, but Alpha continues to carry out her late master's orders, and she refuses to elaborate on what those orders entail. Her behavior is becoming more human—or so it seems. Is she developing emotions and a conscience, or is she just learning to counterfeit them as a means of carrying out her enigmatic orders? And do those orders include Thomas's death sentence? ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

3-0 out of 5 stars Android Loving
Charon, an android criminal mastermind has been defeated, and all the various copies of himself deleted. Now the only problem left for General Thomas Wharington is what to do with Charon's android helpmate and hatchet woman, Alpha.

Alpha is about as advanced as an android can be without achieving actual sentience. She has super strength, massive computing abilities, and physically resembles in every way a thoroughly beautiful, sensual human woman. But Alpha was also programmed to be a ruthless mercenary and a very effective killer.

Thomas and the US government need the information Alpha has stored in her matrix about Charon's organization, but she refuses to cooperate, and if they take apart her "brain" to access the information, everything Alpha is or might become will be destroyed. As Thomas spends more and more time with the android, he becomes convinced that Alpha's programming has evolved, and now he must decide between serving his country, or saving the android he's watched evolve closer and closer to humanity by the day. The android he is increasingly coming to care for...

I picked up this book from the library because it was listed on the Galaxy Express as one of the top 100 SFR of all time. I'd read a few of Catherine Asaro's fantasy romance novels in high school, and liked them well enough, but this book was much grittier and had far less romance than those books. Alpha is also the sequel to Asaro's book Sunrise Alley, which I'd wish I'd realized going in, because the first several chapters are spent recapping events and reintroducing characters from Sunrise Alley. I caught up well enough, and I don't think you need to read Sunrise Alley to like or understand Alpha, but this book does have some serious spoilers for Sunrise Alley, so if you care about things like that, read the books in order.

The main character of Alpha is, oddly enough, not the android Alpha, but her captor and champion, Thomas. Thomas is a three-star general, a former fighter pilot, the survivor of more than one heart attack and over seventy years old (but through various life-lengthening medical treatments he only looks and feels about 50). This book very much belongs to Thomas, and is less about Alpha evolving into a person, as it is Thomas coming to understand how he feels about Alpha and his own humanity. Thomas was a pretty likable protagonist, and I appreciated how he was not a Teflon hero. Thomas gets beat-up and bruised and broken, and every confrontation he's in, he walks--or limps--away with injuries.

I appreciated that realistic treatment, particularly considering Thomas's age. Even Thomas himself notices he doesn't bounce back from rough-handling like he would have in his youth. This was a nice deviation from the usual SF hero, who is typically a robust specimen of Alpha-maledom. Thomas himself is sort of a recovering Alpha male, trying to become more in tune with his own emotions, and trying to become better about communicating them and demonstrating his feelings to those he loves. He's realized he's not immortal or infallible, so he's also working on letting the other people in his life see that. Which is why the ending really pissed me off, because it basically undercut his character arc. But I don't want to have spoilers so I won't say more than that.

So, you might have noticed I'm not talking too much about Alpha in this review, and that's because I feel like she's really only a supporting player in this book. She does change throughout the novel, but the main thrust of the narrative is definitely focused on Thomas. This means that I really feel like this book can't be classified as a romance, per se. I didn't really see an emotional connection between Thomas and Alpha. He primarily seemed attracted to her because of how sexy she is, and she seems to be attracted to him because he reminds her of her creator, Charon, which was more than a little creepy for me.

Another issue of the book was it felt very episodic. There isn't really a strong central conflict that drives the momentum of the plot, which means that at times the pacing felt a little aimless.

The world-building also could have been given more page-space. The story is set in a near-future (2032) United States, and I actually felt like this could have been explored a little more. It didn't feel like the near-future for me the way, say, Naked in Death did. The world of this book felt more like a SF world made up out of whole cloth. Thomas, for instance, was born in 1960, and I would have liked him to relate the future he's living in to the "past" that the reader is inhabiting. He didn't feel like someone who was born in the sixties, grew up in the seventies, etc., his background just felt kind of generic American in the Far Future, so I would have liked more details that could help me sink into his mindset, his experiences more.

On the whole, problems aside, this wasn't a bad read. Thomas was a pretty likable protagonist, and a breath of fresh air after all the hard-ass alpha heroes I've been reading lately, and if you don't mind that the book is light on the romance, give it a try.

2-0 out of 5 stars I really wanted to like this one, but it's not nearly as good as "Sunrise Alley"
Plot Summary:This follow up to the sci-fi romantic thriller "Sunrise Alley" focuses on sexy enemy android Alpha and Lt. General Thomas Wharington, director of a government spook squad.Alpha is convinced that her boss, Charon, is still alive, and to that end, she's still trying to capture Thomas per her last order.Thomas finds himself protecting Alpha from his higher-ups who want to strip her down like an old car for the information they can scavenge from her neural mesh.When Alpha kidnaps Thomas he must break her programming, but how can he reason with an android who has no concept of free will?

Sunrise Alley is a terrific man-hunt thriller loaded with tons of sci-fi, so I was eager to read the follow up novel, Alpha.Although Alpha is okay, it's not in the same class as its predecessor, so I'm left feeling a bit bummed right now.The story didn't flow with edge-of-my-seat action.Instead, it felt kind of bumpy and uneven, especially regarding the romantic relationship between Alpha and Thomas.It didn't help that physically they kept alternating between being together and being apart, so they started over from scratch a couple of times.It was kind of weird.

Speaking of strange, I think this is the first May-December romance I've encountered that features such a huge age gap.Thomas is 72 and Alpha looks like a 20 year-old super model.I don't know her android age, but I kept trying to picture my grandfather running around like a stud and it just wasn't happening.I know, I know, Thomas was supposed to look twenty years younger than his age due to medical science, but he was still a geezer in my mind.

That kind of disconnect with the romance alone was enough to keep me from raving here, but then the plot let me down too.It was clunky and predictable, with very little interaction with the Sunrise Alley rogues.That was disappointing, since I kept expecting Thomas and Alpha to make a visit to the android's secret lair.Then I kept hoping that Thomas would have a fatal heart attack and they'd have to copy his brain into an android body resembling Fabio.No such luck.

2-0 out of 5 stars No Android
I didn't adhere to that story. First, General Wharington quite often behaves like a woman would do, I mean not as a military man should do. Then, there is absolutely nothing seductive or alluring in him and you just wonder how anyone can be attracted to such a guy. To me, he's just pitiful. Secondly, Alpha is indistinguishable from a human being. For example, she's not consistent as a programmed machine should be, she's as irrational or contradictory as all human beings are. Then, the story would be identical if the General was a kind of master and Alpha an escaped slave.

Let alone the capacities of self-defense and survival of an old man (the General) afflicted with cardiac arrests and plagued by a broken leg! Quite ridiculous, indeed.

Though the ending was crystal clear I read the book through. In my opinion, a female writer has often problems in writing that kind of hard SciFi story. In this way, CA is similar to Elisabeth Moon. They both tell unbelievable and at times silly stories. Lois MacMaster Bujold makes a much better work at it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good mix of science fiction and romance
Alpha is a well written romance between a dangerous 'female' android and the man trying to pry secrets from her.It is set in a future close enough to now to be recognizable, but distant enough that some artificial intelligences have developed to the point where they are at or above human intelligence level, while still remaining non-human.This is a recent enough development that governments and societies are still groping for ways to cope with it.

The story is well-plotted, with characters I cared about, plenty of action, a believable relationship at its core, and quite a few loose ends that probably imply that there will be more books in this universe.

Alpha is a sequel, and the author certain leaves room for additional stories, but it stands well on its own.

5-0 out of 5 stars Riveting thriller.
Charon was a ruthless criminal who created and traded in illegal robots and androids so his death benefits the world - unfortunately his android Alpha survives to bring his legacy to the world. Alpha is indistinguishable from a human woman but has superpowers - and General Thomas finds her as intriguing as she is dangerous. For she is carrying out her last orders from her maker - and Thomas finds her too human to kill. An intriguing story of robots, androids, and a touch of love evolves. ... Read more

12. Ascendant Sun: A New Novel in the Saga of the Skolian Empire
by Catherine Asaro
Kindle Edition: 384 Pages (2010-04-01)
list price: US$6.99
Asin: B003G83U0K
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Ascendant Sun is the direct sequel to The Last Hawk, in which Kelric, heir to the Skolian Empire, crash-landed his fighter on the Restricted planet of Coba. He was imprisoned by the powerfulmistresses of the great estates--women who, over time, fell in love with him. After 18 years of living in their gilded cage, Kelric finally made his escape.

In Ascendant Sun, Kelric returns to Skolian space, only to find the Empire in control of the Allied forces of Earth. With little more than the clothes on his back, Kelric is forced to take work on a merchant vessel. But when that vessel enters Euban space, Kelric finds his worst nightmare realized: he becomes a slave to the cruel Aristos--humans who use torture and sex as the ultimate aphrodesiac.
Amazon.com Review
The adventures of super-sexy space-stud Kelric Garlin continue, as he comes back from the dead in Ascendant Sun, the fifth--and so far raciest--installment in Catherine Asaro's popular Saga of the Skolian Empire series (which kicked off with 1995's Primary Inversion). But Kelric needs to keep his miraculous resurrection hush-hush: presumed dead after crash-landing on Coba 18 years ago in Last Hawk, love-prisoner Kelric endured and finally escaped the lusty attentions of the planet's swoony ruling matriarchy. Back at last, the bronze-god telepath finds that his world has been turned upside down: The galaxy-uniting psiberweb has collapsed, the Allied Worlds of Earth control the Skolian Empire, and his family, the Ruby Dynasty, are all either dead or held hostage, leaving him as the sole and long-lost Imperial Heir, a man nearly everyone in power would see imprisoned or assassinated--if they knew he was alive.

Harvard-trained physicist Asaro continues to astound by straddling the SF and romance genres so adroitly, alternating between chin-rubbing speculations on quantum theory and blushingly steamy sex scenes with all the skill of an accomplished ballet dancer (which, coincidentally, she also is). Surely junior-high kids will get their paws on this title tout de suite (and quickly skip to the "good" parts), but Asaro's award-winning prose, her knack for high-adventure story-telling, and her equal expertise in both science and romance make this a worthy read for any fan of either genre. --Paul Hughes ... Read more

Customer Reviews (22)

2-0 out of 5 stars Ascendent Sun
The story was great, as usual, but the were so many transcriptiom errors (hundreds) in this Kindle version that it wasn't worth the price of the download

1-0 out of 5 stars For $6.99, please proofread OCR!
I enjoy this book and this series.I read the first installment, Primary Inversion, as part of the Baen Free Library.It got me hooked, and I proceeded to buy the next four books.This is the only one of those that comes in a digital edition, however.

When I download free books, I almost *expect* errors.Incorrect paragraph breaks, the occasional misread character... you get what you pay for.But for the SAME PRICE as most of the paperback installments in the same series, this book is rife with serious errors.Characters mistaken for punctuation, misspellings... it was clearly scanned from a version where the characters r, u, m, and n were particularly troublesome.The word "arms" was more often incorrect than correct, and it took two occurrences of the phrase "din his cover" before I figured out it meant "ruin his cover."The worst was the three times when "arms" was written as "anus."The first is during a steamy group sex scene, so I did spend a few seconds wondering how she got her anus around his neck.

I'm tempted to demand my money back.This is a terrible, terrible rendition of this book, and absolutely not worth the money.

4-0 out of 5 stars Catherine's insight
Wow, there were some parts of this novel that were very steamy, and some of the best written I have seen in science fiction in years.Maybe because I am male reading female perspective written for male.
Great twists, and overall another nice novel in this series, which I would definately read again in the future.

2-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Kelric is a damaged jaggernaut (a kind of cyborg) who finds himself stranded on a planet under the control of hositles. Kelric gets a job, but hatches a plan to escape off world. He eventually is captured by the bad guys and sold as a pleasure slave. Can Kelric escape captivity? Or is he doomed to be an aristo provider?

I really enjoy Asaro's writing style, but I admit I found Kelric a unusal. He is the male version of Helen of Troy. The face that launched a thousand ships... But his physical description doesn't seem that hot. For one thing, he is partially metallic. For another...He's rather...old 50+ married many times with kids. (And if you check out the cover art, the guy looks like an old woman).Even though his youth and beauty is retained due to enhancements this is a 50 year old cyber soldier who acts quite helpless most of the time.

He is captured, asaulted, raped, and subject to repeat druggings and orgies orchestrated by his masters. Even after the drugs are out of his system he seems quite mellow about the whole deal and even reflects at a point that he understands why his the bad guys enjoyed it so much.

I gave up a few chapters after Kelric is captured. I don't mind a bit of torture, but the repeated scenes of non-consensual s3xual orgies, especially potrayed as erotic made me uncomfortable.

5-0 out of 5 stars 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 remaining anonymous.

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 next in the series. --- Reviewed for PNR Reviews ... Read more

13. The Moon's Shadow (The Saga of the Skolian Empire)
by Catherine Asaro
Mass Market Paperback: 416 Pages (2004-03-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.22
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 076534324X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
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.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Where Have I Been???
I was recently given a copy of this book, and although I don't normally like to read the middle of a series without reading what lead up to the book first. Let me say I'm glad I made an exception with this book. First, it is well enough written where it mostly works as a stand alone. But moreso that here is an incredible writer that has been around a long time I have never read! Although romance is not my first love (pardon the pun), this succeeds in the same way some C J Cherryh books do, and this book does it better than say Ann McCaffrey (who is the author I think of when Sci Fic and romance are used together). This book is full of characters to love and to hate, plenty of action and introspection. Fast moving and thoughtful. Great book!
An author who is a Physicist/Ballerina, I will definitely be buying more of her books!

5-0 out of 5 stars The Moon's Shadow
This is an awsome book.I like the way it starts out with Jai leaving one life and having to face another.Corbal was a tricky surprize for him to overcome.Tarquine, on the other hand, was a mystery that he had to solve before he could truly embrace his new life as Emporer of Eube. Then he made a stand for something greater than all of the characters of this book.Catherine Asaro is as awsome as this Series.

3-0 out of 5 stars Unexpected, but lacking depth
I originally thought I hadn't suffered from not reading any of the previous books in this saga, but now I wonder. Perhaps a number of the characters and events would have had a greater resonance and feel more grounded had I known something about them already.
Essentially this is the story of Jai, who has unwillingly become the Emperor of Eube to save a relative's life and in the hopes of bringing peace to the galaxy. He is young, ethical and idealistic. Unfortunately he is also a "psion" (telepath) in a society where the vast majority of the population are slaves and psions are the lowest of the low.
"The Moon's Shadow" did not develop as I thought it would. I was expecting something along the lines of "Daughter of the Empire", where a novice ruler uses her unorthodox grasp of law and tradition to survive and thrive in her unwanted responsibilities. This book is quite different. Jai does not show much capacity for wisdom or compromise, only ethics. Much of the book is therefore taken up with him stumbling from one crisis to the next, many of them created or prolonged by his refusal to adapt to his new situation and take advice. For me the most significant problem with this book was a certain lack of grounding. Time has passed, but we do not know how Emperor Jai has been spending his time. We are told he is increasingly unpopular, but we do not know with who or precisely why. Everyone, even the hardest characters in the book, who spend time with Jai are won over by him and think him worthy of their loyalty, despite their knowledge of his secrets and behaviour that is strange and weak by the standards of his new society. Too much telling and not enough showing, in other words. I also found the relationship between a very old woman and a very young man hard to take.
But all that aside, I did rather enjoy "The Moon's Shadow". Asaro's style is clear and flowing, and editorial mistakes were at a minimum. The setting is really interesting and the many of the characters and events are appealing.
So - worth reading, but not a stand-out for me.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mind your manners!
Catherine Asaro's "The Moon's Shadow" is the final volume of a quartet within her fabulous Skolian Empire series that tells of the events in the aftermath of the Radiance War. (Newcomers are advised to read "Primary Inversion" and "The Radiant Seas" first.) While the first of these, "Ascendant Sun," was a classic space opera, in "The Quantum Rose" Asaro riffed on the once-high-tech world gone medieval theme, while "Spherical Harmonic" can perhaps best be described as a resurrection myth containing a quantum physics monograph (or perhaps the other way around).

And now in "Shadow," one of the best of the entire series, the author returns to her romantic side--plenty of sex, plenty of space opera. Above all, though, it's a novel of manners. The red-eyed Eubian "Highton" aristocracy speak with indirection and false politeness. The biggest faux pas one of them can make is to say exactly what they mean. And suddenly among them comes their naive and reluctant new young emperor, Jabriol III, who has to grow up and take charge in a hurry (a typical Asaro theme), dealing with potential assassins and dubious allies, all the while trying to start peace negotiations with the Skolians (he's half Skolian himself); more important, all the while trying to figure out what's going on. A tall and complicated order indeed.

Most delicious of all, though, readers are reintroduced to perhaps the most complex character Asaro has ever created, the Eubian finance minister Tarquine Iquar (who fans of the series will remember from "Ascendant Sun"). She's smart, she's tough, she's conflicted. For the second time in the series she appears on the book cover. Despite her age (which of course she doesn't look a bit of), she's not too old to do some growing up and taking charge herself. She knows the language of indirection, and she redirects it her way. She has plenty of secrets of her own. Will she reveal them? Indeed, dear reader, that is for you to discover.

5-0 out of 5 stars A sheep in Wolfs clothing
If you haven't read THE LAST HAWK, ASCENDANT SUN and THE RADIANT SEASyou will probably miss a lot of the important story threads and character development in this story, as in a sense this is the story of the massive change in the Eubian empire that these previous novels were leading to.

At the end of the Radiance War Jaibriol Qox-Skolia was still a school boy on Earth. When he saw his parents die in a shuttle crash he opted to trade himself to the Eubians in exchange for his uncle Eldrin, the Skolian Ruby Prince who had been captured in the war.For Jai was the true heir to the Eubian empire, but he was also everything they despised - a "provider" psion and a Ruby Prince - both secrets of his past and heritage he had to keep from everyone in the empire if he was to survive even a single day.

This is the story of how Jai learned to survive as Emperor Jaibriol III and the difficult path to peace he finds at the heart of an empire that is the epitome of everything he hates.This is one of the best books in this series, but its true strength lies in the way it builds on previous events.In other books we have been given glimpse of the violent and corrupt Eubian empire and its vicious rulers the Highton caste but in this novel we get to know them in all their depravity and glory as Jai learns more about his father's people than he ever wanted to know. ... Read more

14. Spherical Harmonic: A Novel in the Saga of the Skolian Empire
by Catherine Asaro
Kindle Edition: 384 Pages (2010-04-01)
list price: US$6.99
Asin: B003G93Z0O
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Catherine Asaro is a popular SF writer, combining her diverse talents to blend hard science fiction and heartrending romance into a sweeping epic known as the Saga of the Skolian Empire. This is her trademark series. Ever since Primary Inversion, her very first novel, this series has continued to grow, building a significant readership and receiving widespread praise.

All of Asaro's considerable talent is on display in Spherical Harmonic, the direct sequel to The Radiant Seas.

Separated for decades by circumstance and political machinations, the Ruby Dynasty, hereditary rulers of the Skolian Empire, struggle to bring together the tattered remnants of their family in the shadow of a disastrous interstellar war. Too many have died, others are presumed lost, yet they must move quickly if they are reassume their rightful place as rulers of Skolia.
Amazon.com Review
Catherine Asaro's Saga of the Skolian Empire has quietly become one of the most interesting, ambitious, and popular science-fiction series since Dune, captivating readers with its complex universe, its diverse cast of sympathetic characters, and its imaginative blend of hard SF, future history, military SF, space opera, family saga, and romance. Spherical Harmonics is the seventh book in the loosely organized series.

A woman comes to consciousness on a world she doesn't recognize, and fades out again--literally. As nonexistence and awareness alternate, the woman regains her memory, realizing she is Dyhianna Selei, the Ruby Pharaoh, titular head of the Skolian Empire, who was destroyed in a star-spanning battle that ravaged both her empire and that of its enemy, the Aristos. Instead of dying, Dyhianna was transported to a distant world via the quantum-mechanical universe of Hilbert space--and now she is in danger of disappearing permanently into that nonphysical universe. And that isn't her only problem. Her husband has been physically and psychologically scarred by his captivity in Aristo hands. She may have to overthrow the elected government of her own Empire in order to resurrect it from the ashes of the Radiance War and defend it from the powerful Aristos.

Spherical Harmonics follows (and sometimes overlaps) the events in The Radiant Seas, 031286714XThe Quantum Rose, and Ascendant Sun. Other books in the series include Primary Inversion, Catch the Lightning, and The Last Hawk. --Cynthia Ward ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great read, but don't start here
I've been a fan since meeting Asaro at a BayCon in 1997 and purchasing her first two books.Since then, I've followed her Empire as it became increasingly complex and rich.Spherical Harmonic will be confusing as an introduction. Unlike Primary Inversion, The Last Hawk and The Quantum Rose; Spherical Harmonic doesn't stand alone.It brings great detail and development to the Ruby Pharaoh, but without the background of three or four of the earlier books, figuring out what is happening, much less why, is tough.

So, buy it, Primary Inversion and Catch The Lightning.You'll be back for more.

5-0 out of 5 stars Deep
Catherine Asaro's intellect is way beyond mine.I recommend reading her essay at the back of the book before you read the novel. The novel will make more sense if you do that.The Skolian Empire novels are all inter-related and I recommend buying all of them and reading them in the order of publication.I read several of them over a span of about three weeks and it was really cool to see the same event in one book from one character's viewpoint and then see the same event in another book from another character's viewpoint.She intertwines her novels in a very entertaining way.Her characters are real and she mixes erotic scenes, space battles, and suspense in a way that makes her books very difficult to put down.

5-0 out of 5 stars Much better than the reviews say
This is much better than you would believe from the reviews. We finally learn about Dyhianna Selei the Ruby Pharaoh, titular head of the Skolian Empire. Previous books pictured Dyhianna as a lonely genious who wasn't quite human. Distanced from the rest of humanity by her genious as well as her position as one of the rulers of the Skolian empire. In this book Dyhianna is a misunderstood woman who struggles to be understood but doesn't quite make it due to her unique thought processes. After all who will understand a person who thinks in arithmatic equations instead of words. To her the struggle for control of interstellarspace between the Skolian empire and Eube is a puzzle which should be reduced to mathmatic equations. The answers she gets are cryptic; not really amiable to comprehension by us lesser mortals. However whatever her modes of thought she is quite human; she feels fear when escaping from torture the Eubianconcorde; she loves her family and will do anything to recover her lost husband; she is fiercely loyal to her friends. I liked this book and recommend it to all Asaro fans. It should be a welcome addition to the Skolian saga; filling in blanks in the story such as the role of Dhyianna Seli, the Ruby Pharoah at the time of the Radiance War.

3-0 out of 5 stars We get to know Pharoah Dhyianna at last
In many ways this is a fill-in-the-blanks book in the Skolian saga.This book concentrates on Dhyianna Seli, the Ruby Pharoah at the time of the Radiance War.

Unlike many of the other books in this series, this one does not concentrate on a romance, including grand sex scenes. Instead this is a political outing, which describes what happened in a political sense at the end of the Radiance war (primary iverson & the radiant seas).

Dhyianna comes across as being absolutely essential to the empire and her complaints of the control the skolian assembly has over her family has a sort of hollow ring given how much of what happens in the empire revolves around her individual skills.

For some reason, in the other books you get the impression that the 'trader experiment' which produced the hightron race happened in the recent past, but in this book that event is redefinied as having taken place thousands of years ago (which makes more sense).

This is not the most inspired book in the series, but it's a definate building block to be read for filling out the Skolian/Allied/Trader universe and the interesting mess that is the Ruby Dynasty.

2-0 out of 5 stars Catching up with the Skolian Empire,without the sex
If you follow the Saga of the struggling Skolian Empire, this volume will fill in some gaps, on the same timeline as Ascendant Sun(keep it to hand while reading). The oft-in-the-background Pharaoh, Dehya attempts to catch up with events, friends and family.

As a first person storyline, this time the narrator was unconvincing. Asaro managed this trick well twice with Kelric in earlier stories, so not sure what happened here....Political earthquakes also rumble almost unnoticed... ... Read more

15. The Dawn Star (Misted Cliffs, Book 3)
by Catherine Asaro
Paperback: 448 Pages (2006-07-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$7.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0373802382
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
High in the Misted Cliffs lives a magic unlike any other.

With no teacher to guide her, no mentor to discourage her from the impossible, Mel Dawnfield pushed her magic to its limits -- and surpassed them. Only to find that her powers aren't enough to halt burgeoning rebellion within her husband's fledgling realm -- or a plot devised to strike at the very heart of Mel's family.

Mel's mage strength has become greater than any power ever known, but dare she forge her spells into weapons to protect her people, her husband? For her magic might transform the brutality of war into the birth pangs of a peaceful empire . . . unless it proves the death blow to her world. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars LOVED IT
love cobalt's character and feel he is the strongest one for me anyway. He shows strength from both ends of the emotional spectrum. To love someone so deeply you would level the lands to find her, avenge her death. That's a lot of passion. So much so that it barely believable that it can be contained in one human being. Mel as certainly released something in him. I hope there is more about cobalt and Mel to come. I really enjoy reading about them.

I haven't found an author that has given me so much enjoyment out of reading till now and I hope she continues with this line of writing. I love the fantasy fairytale. It's just what I love to read. It has the magic and fantasy that I love but it also draws in that fairytale that princess, castle, old world time life that takes you away and lets your imagination roam. The best of both worlds come together in one story. I haven't found anything else like it and I love it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Book Dawn Star by Catherine Araro
Dawn Star is part of the Misted Cliff series by Catherine Asaro.Just where in the series this book falls is complicated.There are books that cover what has gone on before and books that have covered what has happened later.This is a Fantasy.

But it is a good read, I enjoyed it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Part 4 of a great series
'The Dawn Star' is closely connected to part 3 of the series, 'The Misted Cliffs', which should be read first.
Cobalt and Mel have found love and happiness and there has been peace for a year after Cobalt conquered the countries that had been split off his grandfather's realm 200 years ago. But his relationship to his grandfather, the man who raised him and mistreated him as a child, is still ruled by the old man's hatred and jealousy, so Cobalt's emotional wounds haven't completely healed. Things get worse when the queen of Taka Mal, who fears Cobalt and his strong army, decides that the best way to prevent a war is to take Mel's uncle hostage. She achieves the opposite when a spiteful neighbouring king, who thinks he can force her into an unwanted alliance if there is a war, kidnaps Mel and lets Cobalt know that she was tortured and murdered in Taka Mal. Soon the armies of four countries assemble near the Borders of Taka Mal, while Mel is desperately trying to get back to Cobalt before it's too late. And while war looms and intrigues threaten their lives, her uncle and the queen of Taka Mal are falling in love against all odds and dangers...
This is another wonderful addition to this fantasy romance series - a definite winner and a real pleasure to read. It continues Cobalt's and Mel's story and introduces a new couple in Jade (the queen of Taka Mal) and Mel's uncle Drummer, a minstrel and mage.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Desert Romance
The Dawn Star (2006) is the third novel in the Misted Cliffs series, following The Misted Cliffs.In the previous volume, Princess Melody Dawnfield of Harsdown was married to Prince Cobalt Chamberlight of the Misted Cliffs.Cobalt and Varqelle -- the former king of Harsdown -- led the Misted Cliffs army against Blueshire and Shazire and conquered these lands.

Varqelle was felled in the final battle against Shazire.Mel used her magics to try to heal him, but failed.Still, Varqelle died knowing that Cobalt loved him.

In this novel, Drummer Headwind is in trouble again.He has been abducted by foreign agents.They take him to the Topaz Palace in Taka Mal and install him in a suite.Drummer is now a hostage against the good behavior of Cobalt Chamberlight, the husband of his niece Mel.

Vizarana Jade is the queen of Taka Mal.She inherited the throne as her father's only child, but she has rivals for the position.Her cousin Baz loves her and wants to marry her, but believes that a woman has no business being the head of state.The Atajazid D'az Ozar of Jazid also wants to marry Jade, but he too would take away her throne after becoming her husband.

Meanwhile, King Stonebreaker of the Misted Cliffs dies from a stroke and Cobalt is now King and Mel is Queen.After receiving the news about Drummer, Cobalt wants to invade Taka Mal immediately and totally raze every village and town.Mel talks him out of this course, but he tales most of his army with him to the border for the negotiations.

Naturally, Ozar has the Jazid army arrayed along the border when the Misted Cliffs troops march toward Taka Mal.The armies of Aronsdale and Harsdown also march toward their border with Taka Mal.

In this story, Jade visits Drummer in his guarded quarters after his arrival in the Topaz Palace.Drummer greatly admires her beauty and Jade admires his music.But she derides the honeyed words of his songs.

Drummer starts to love Jade and she loves him.She presents him with fine clothes and invites his to a feast, where he meets the leaders of Taka Mal and Jazid.Then she comes to him in the night and they make love.Jade offers him a Topaz Pact and he accepts it.But he doesn't really understand the agreement.

Drummer is very confused.When he find his door unlocked, he leaves the room and goes to the stables.He buys a horse with a ruby on his clothes and rides away from the palace.

When an embassy from Aronsdale and Harsdown arrive in the Topaz Palace, Jade lacks a hostage to trade for a treaty.She sends troops to find Drummer and stalls the negotiators.Her troops follow Drummer into the Rocklands, a waterless waste.

This tale introduces the inhabitants of Taka Mal.Two hundred years before, these people had broken the empire of Misted Cliffs and taken away the lands of Blueshire and Shazire.Now that the Misted Cliffs have retaken their lost territory, the people of Taka Mal believe that they will be the next conquest.

Drummer learns that he has the family talent for shape magic.He has always been able to do minor magics, but he finds himself able to do much more under the stress of his capture and love.Enjoy!

Highly recommended for Asaro fans and anyone else who enjoys tales of exotic magics, political intrigue, and headlong romance.

-Arthur W. Jordin

4-0 out of 5 stars Mel's book
Mel is kidnapped to further the war.She's pushed to her limit and her enemies are the first to know just how far she can go. Dawn Star is the 3rd book in the trilogy and is just as good as the other two. You can be happy to end it here, knowing she'll handle things just fine.
Although, having more in the series wouldn't be a bad thing :) ... Read more

16. The Quantum Rose (The Saga of the Skolian Empire)
by Catherine Asaro
Mass Market Paperback: 432 Pages (2002-02-18)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.04
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812568834
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
A New Adventure in the Saga of the Skolian Empire.

Kamoj Argali is the young ruler of an impoverished province on a backward planet. To keep her people from starving, she has agreed to marry Jax Ironbridge, the boorish and brutal ruler of a prosperous province. But before Argali and Ironbridge are wed, a mysterious stranger from a distant planet sweeps in and forces Kamoj into marriage, throwing her world into utter chaos.
Amazon.com Review
The beautiful young noblewoman Kamoj Quanta Argali rules a declining province on a distant planet that has lost the high technology of its original colonists. To save her people, Kamoj has contracted to marry Jax Ironbridge, the moody, unpredictable ruler of a prosperous land. Then a mysterious stranger from another world proposes a marriage that neither honor nor law will allow Kamoj to refuse.

The Quantum Rose is the sixth novel in the acclaimed Saga of the Skolian Empire, following the novels Primary Inversion, Catch the Lightning, The Last Hawk, The Radiant Seas, and Ascendant Sun. This intelligent, entertaining series combines space opera, hard SF, future history, military SF, and romance in a rare and potent blend. The Quantum Rose is an interplanetary adventure, but the space-opera and hard-SF elements are less prominent, as the plot focuses on a compelling and complicated love triangle, the clash of very different cultures, and an approach to war that SF has almost never considered.

A Nebula Award finalist, Catherine Asaro has won the Analog Readers' Poll, the Sapphire Award, and the Homer Award. In addition to the Saga of the Skolian Empire, she has written the near-future SF novels The Veiled Web and The Phoenix Code. --Cynthia Ward ... Read more

Customer Reviews (25)

4-0 out of 5 stars From castles and horse-creatures to planets and spaceships.
It is nice to find a book that was written by someone who has a great and enviable imagination, very interesting stuff in here. Also very good characters (even the villain)real and fleshed out, these characters go through hardships, they suffer, and one cares about them.

This is science fiction, but I am a fantasy fan and I loved it, this just a good story and labels do not matter in this case. Most wonderful part of this book:

Starts out as a medieval tale with castles and horse-like creatures with a focus on a country, then we move on and the focus is switched on the whole planet, then we are introduced to the idea that there is something beyond the planet, then from castles we get space ships and advanced technology, then the focus is not just on one planet but on planet federations and other alien civilizations.

The above might read as a mess, but this story is so intricate and vast, and as it progresses it is similar to a view of a city street and then the camera goes higher and higher until the clouds zoom by and all we see are specks of light and then earth as a whole. The tale just gets bigger and nicer, weaving in and out of spectacular connections and discoveries. From a speck the big picture is shown to us in a very entertaining and delightful way.

*Lastly there is a wonderful love story in this book, which is not cheesy or exaggerated. So originality, adventure, romance, politics, even a morale to the story.It is part of a series, but works great as a stand alone novel and no prior knowledge needed.Please ignore the cover. Very recommended. 4 stars and not 5 because Robin Hobb and George R Martin spoiled me.

2-0 out of 5 stars Soap opera hogwash
I knew from looking at the book's cover that I could be in trouble, but I still had hope. This can't be classified as science fiction, but rather as only childish fantasy. To think of Isaac Asimov in comparison... I'm sorry, but the book was not even at the juvenile level in terms of story content, philosophy, or ideas about what wonders other worlds and times might hold. I would never purchase another book by this author.

3-0 out of 5 stars It was a'right
Kamoj Quanta Argali is the 18 yr old governor of a planet of former slaves. When a newcomer on the world Havyrl arrives to recover from an ordeal which left him half mad, he spies Kamoj taking a bath in a river and falls for her. Impulsively Havryl offers to marry her which causes strife and conflict throughout the region, as Kamoj's spurned fiancee vows revenge.

I looked forward to this novel, but I admit I didn't care for Havryl. The drunken binges, the whining, and his 'tragic past' was a bit overdone.The relationship between Kamoj 18 year old (I don't care how biologically mature) and the Havryl 64 year old guy skeeved me out. I just don't like huge age differences between my romantic couples. At one point Havryl is talking about being a grandpa and described as being a hot-looking 40. Umm.. No.

There isn't much sci-fi in this one except for the revelations about Kamoj's people. I felt this was an okay book, which could've been better.

3 stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars Science Fiction Sparkling with Romantic Resonance!
The Radiance War has ended leaving both the Skolian and Trader Empires in disarray. All of the webs have collapsed. Kurj Skolia had been killed just prior. Sauscony (Soz) and Althor Valdoria, two of his three designated heirs, are thought to have died as war heroes in the battle. Soz's husband Jabriol Qox II, the Eube Emperor, is also thought to have died. Kelric Valdoria, the third heir, had returned from the dead after nearly 2 decades, but is in the hands of the Traders, as is the Eldest Valdoria sibling, Eldrin. The second Triad key, Dyhianna Selei, along with her son, is missing and presumed dead. The surviving family members are being held under house arrest on their homeworld of Lyshriol by the Allied Worlds of Earth, in order to prevent them from resurrecting the Skolnet.

Eldrin's capture is a coupe for the Traders who have already captured a lock, one of three sites used by the Triad to enter the psiberspace web. This ability had been the Skolians one advantage over the more prolific Traders. With the death of family patriarch, Eldrinson Valdoria, the third Triad key, Eldrin would inherit that position. The Traders now had both a lock and a key.

THE QUANTUM ROSE is the sixth book in the Saga of the Skolian Empire. Timewise it parallels the fifth book, ASCENDANT SUN, in which Kelric attempts to shut down the captured lock, while young Jabriol III trades his own freedom for the release of his uncle Eldrin Valdoria, and becomes the new Qox Emperor.

The remaining Valdorias along with the ISC, unaware of what is transpiring, have devised a desperate plan to obtain freedom. Eldrinson is cremated, according to his wishes, and his ashes distributed over the lands he had loved. The AWOE representatives are told a different story. They are told that Eldrinson's dying wish had been to have his coffin put into orbit around Lyshriol. Havryl (Vyrl) Valdoria, fifth born of the ten siblings, is elected to fill the coffin. The plan is for ISC to recover him and take him to sanctuary until a plan can be devised to free the rest of his family. The plan goes awry and Havryl spends countless days orbiting the planet before he is finally retrieved.

On the planet Balumil, Kamoj Quanta Argali, the young governor of Argali province is taking a break from her heavy responsibilities when a group of men, led by Lord Havryl Lionstar, happen upon her bathing hole. Lionstar is an off worlder whose strange ways and unfamiliarity with her peoples customs have caused quite a stir.

Kamoj returns home to learn that Lionstar has entered a bid for her hand that cannot be matched by any other. This disrupts lifelong plans of a merger between Argali and Ironbridge, an arrangement that would have been beneficial to her people. Kamoj is well aware that her former betrothed, Jax the governor of Ironbridge would not be pleased.

Jax is a descendant of the Trader breeders who had created bred Kamoj's ancestors to be slaves, and who had become stranded on Balumil. Jax had been alternately cruel and kind to her, keeping the conciliatory Kamoj completely off balance. He had blamed her for his moods. While her uncle is convinced that a Lionstar merger will be better for her, she is not sure what it will mean for her people. Lionstar is a mystery; no one had ever even seen his face.

The merger/wedding goes through without Havryl's knowledge that the "dowry" he had offered had been construed as a purchase price, but he is currently too drunk to puzzle it out. He can't even get his bride's name right. The lengthy sensory deprivation, exacerbated by an empath's need for close human contact, had driven him to drink in order to squelch his endless nightmares.

When he passes out in the coach on the way home, Kamoj cannot resist the temptation to see the face, hidden beneath his ever present cowl. She is shocked to find a sightless metal face but her nature urges her to seek out positive aspects of his appearance. His hair is beautiful, and unable to resist touching it, she discovers that the metal is a fa�ade hiding a face of exquisite beauty. He is human but the atmosphere of her world is hostile to her new husband. He is unable to breath outdoors without the mask.

It matters little, for she soon learns that the Ruby prince will not be staying long. For all that his drinking concerns her for the sake of his health, he is kind and gentle with her. Her mind resonates with his, comforting him when his demons have him in their thrall,l and giving her the ability to discern the emotions of others.

While the pair are falling in love with each other, Jax Ironbridge is not taking his disappointment well. He has accused Vyrl of coercion, kidnapping, and rape. The scandal would jeopardize Vryl's mission if the charges were exposed. Jax believes he is justified in taking her back, and she bears the brunt of his ire. The crimes that Vryl has been accused of become reality, though Jax feels his own actions are well justified. Now Kamoj is faced a very difficult choices. Vryl wants her back, and she has to decide what will be best for herself, the man she loves who will soon be leaving her world behind, and the Argali people who she has spent her life protecting. While the two men vie for her, Kamoj realizes through Vyrl's methods, so different from that of Jax, that the ways of her people, ingrained by virtue of their genetics, are not etched in stone. Her choice is made.

I truly liked Kamoj. While most of her pleasing characteristics have been bred into her, she is a strong enough to break through her conditioning and stand up to the men who vie for control over her life. She refuses to bring Vryl drink even though she knows he will push her away because of it, and she stands up to Jax for the first time in her life. She braves the unknown for the sake of her husband's sanity, and for a family she has never met.

Vryl is an interesting man, the first Valdoria hero who is not a Jagernaut warrior. He is described as a simple man, like his father, who wanted nothing more than a wife, some land, and lots of children. He is a dancer, forced to hide his art on a world where men don't do those things. He strikes one as being vulnerable and in many ways he is. But he has a core of steel that allowed him to survive the horror of being "buried alive", to face the fear and carry out the duty that he is charged with. On his home world the love he has inspired is quite plain, as its inhabitants gather from all corners to stand with him against their captors. Kamoj is not a psion but is soon accepted by his family and her resonance with Vryl produces a surprising gift for his people.

I really love these off world pairings. Dealing with different cultures teaches the Skolians so very much about themselves and humanity in general. Where would Kelric have been without his Quis skills to show him the way to escape his Trader captors? Hopefully in a future work we will discover what Kamoj's gift will mean to them. I also like the subtle role reversal of the genders in these books. It makes one think, and as this genre is widely read by both men and women, I think that is a very good thing.

With Kelric poised to be the next Imperator, Eldrin free to serve as Web Key, and the Valdoria family liberated, all that remains is to recover the third member of the Triad. Look for the seventh book of the Skolian saga, Spherical Harmonic, in which Dehya coalesces. --- Reviewed for PNR Reviews

4-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating series
Istumbled into the series with this book and was very pleasantly surprised by the author's thoughtful attention to detail and plot. Next I read Primary Inversion, which was excellent. I'm planning to read the rest as fast as I can find them.

Don't be put off by the R-word other reviewers have bandied about. It seems women who write SF about women who have men in their lives are tarred with the romance keyword, but there is nothing formulaic or bodice ripping about Asaro's women or their stories. This is space opera and it's a lot of fun to read. ... Read more

17. The Lost Continent Collection
by Catherine Asaro
 Kindle Edition: Pages (2007-09-01)
list price: US$46.75
Asin: B000VYX8FO
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Four tales of magic, adventure and love by award-winning author Catherine Asaro are yours in one great bundle! The Lost Continent Collection includes The Charmed Sphere, The Misted Cliffs, The Dawn Star, and The Fire Opal.

... Read more

18. The Radiant Seas (Saga of the Skolian Empire Ser.)
by Catherine Asaro
 Paperback: Pages (1998)

Asin: B000WL7EQK
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (28)

2-0 out of 5 stars A quagmire of idiotic technology and plot holes
I would have thought this series would get better by book 3, but it just got worse.

Imagine two inbred (literally inbred), moronic societies at war with each other for 400 years.Using idiotic technology, ignoring obvious avenues left and right, impossible from the logical, technological, and social perspective.They have a type of AI but no Von Neumann machines.A "psyberspace" (yes, it is exactly what it sounds like, and even more dumb than you think) but no understanding of computers or technology.Nanites but no nanite warfare.Extremely pathetic cyber technology.Hell, the main problem of the two civilizations could have been solved with either modern genetic engineering, or something that will be available within 50 years.

I mean, couldn't the author have picked up Neuromancer before writing this book?Or at least watched Star Trek?The entire society described here makes absolutely no sense - an advanced technological society is impossible in a full slave system!Not to mention that this whole war could have been ended in a week with a set of weapons based on 1980's MIRV designs.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Blend of Science Fiction and Romance
Sauscony Valdoria and Jaibriol Qox II, each the designated heir to their warring interstellar empires, had left the world they'd known behind to be together. The shocked world had witnessed their "deaths" and had grieved for them. Only a select few knew that they'd not died. Instead they had done the unthinkable, they had married aboard the ship that had carried them to sanctuary.

Adapting to life on a deserted planet had not been easy, but love had gotten them through the worst of it. They had made a family, four beautiful children, who were the best of both of them. They were happy. Unfortunately Eden always comes seems to come with a serpent.

Over the past fifteen years, the Eubians have not given up trying to gain access to the Skolweb, the one thing that gives their vastly outnumbered enemies, the Skolians, the edge in their war against them. The tide may be turning in their favor, as they've captured the new Skolian heir, Althor.

When both Imperator Skolia and Emperor Qox are killed in battle, both sides are in need of leadership. Unfortunately the Eubians have discovered that Jaibriol still lives. They are determined to recover him and restore him to the throne. Though to the rest of the world the new Emperor appears to be in command, Jabriol is in truth and unwilling puppet, helpless to protect those he loves. His captors know the truth of his origins. He is vulnerable to torture.

A new leader emerges among the Skolians as well. Having secreted the children safely on Earth, Soz will stop at nothing to get Jaibriol back.

As with Ms. Asaro's other works, this story is rich in multi dimensional characters and unlikely heroes. We see Soz as a loving wife and mother as well as unstoppable warrior queen, and Jabriol as a man of courage, determined not to give his loved ones away no matter what he must suffer. We watch as Jabriol's "mother", is torn between unaccustomed emotion for a son and ingrained Highton doctrine. We empathize as one Skolian heir is broken, but still retains the essence of the man he has always been. We watch a child grow up overnight, to become a man who would have made his parents proud. In addition Ms. Asaro treats us to fascinating and believable technology, making this work the perfect blend of science fiction and romance. Bravo!--- Reviewed for PNR Reviews

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful sci-fi book series.
Read 1, you'll want to read the rest.Great Sci-fi series.Thefamily the stories are centered around grabs your attention & holds it from 1 book to the next.Read all of them!

3-0 out of 5 stars Slightly disappointing, but decent
The Radiant Seas is not as incredible as its predecessor Primary Inversion, which I loved, but it was ok. For the most part, Asaro shows again that she is a skilled writer. It features fleshed out, interesting characters, an imaginative, well developed future universe with some interesting science/technology and a mostly smooth, pleasing writing style. So what's wrong with it? Well, the story is so big that a lot of things seem glossed over, for example the description of a space battle in the middle was cool but could have been better had it been explained with more depth. Also at the end a character we've barely met turns out to be the most important person in the book which I think mars the book's conclusion and makes it feel tacked on. And what is with the word "gentled"? As in, "his face/expression/voice etc gentled." That was used literally dozens of times in the book and I found it mildly irritating after awhile. Still, overall the book was reasonably entertaining and I will checking out another of Asaro's books, probably The Last Hawk, at some point.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good read!
Good read--ties together several other books in the series if you have read them in random order. ... Read more

19. The Final Key: Part Two of Triad (Saga of the Skolian Empire)
by Catherine Asaro
Mass Market Paperback: 352 Pages (2006-11-28)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$7.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0765352095
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Catherine Asaro has won numerous awards for her Saga of the Skolian Empire novels, including the Nebula Award and two Romantic Times awards for Best SF Novel. Combining cutting edge scientific theory with grand romantic adventure, this series represents space opera at its finest.
The Final Key is the second half of the story arc known as Triad, which began in Schism. Schism ended with the Skolian Empire torn asunder by personal conflict within the royal family. With The Final Key, the Skolian Empire comes under all-out assault from its nemesis, the Euban Concord, who have undermined the Empire via subterfuge and assassination, leaving it ripe for conquest. The Skolian Empire's only hope? A young woman barely out of her teens who hasn't even complete her training as a cadet.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Read
Catherine Asaro is an outstanding story teller, hope she finds the time to continue the story line.

5-0 out of 5 stars Book, Final Key, by Catherine Asaro, SF
The Final Key is part 2 in a long and complicated SF series by Catherine Asaro.

The most notable thing about Catherine's writing is that it has a lot of good science in the SF.This is the real stuff not a copy of someone else's SF writing.

The Skolian Empire series is still evolving and is a rather good read.I like it a lot.

4-0 out of 5 stars Yet another entertaining piece of the Skolian saga
I'm a big fan of Catherine Asaro's Skolian Empire series. I've read them all (not always in order). This follows up Soz's days in the academy as a Jagernaut cadet and it doesn't disappoint. I enjoyed the other parts of the story that bring members of the Ruby Dynasty together in an often tumultuous turn of events when the Traders attack various Skolian outposts. Particularly interesting is Soz's brother Eldrin's downward spiral into drug abuse and the situation that forces him to go cold-turkey and quit, amidst war. Asaro's strong female characters are a welcome breath of fresh air and it's nice to see that the male characters aren't emasculated in any way. I did notice that all of her strong, beautiful, commanding females have black hair (like the author). Soz's mother Roca has metallic hair but it seems that there aren't any strong, beautiful commanding redheads or blondes in the Skolian universe. This (tongue-in-cheek)item aside, this book is great. I hope Catherine Asaro keeps on plugging away and churning out these books 'cause I love them and I'm waiting (impatiently) for "The Ruby Dice" to be available. Read this!

4-0 out of 5 stars Ready for More!
I turned my 16-year-old grandniece on to the Skolian world this summer...she loved it! As do I. However, I do wonder when Asaro's publisher is going to collect all those miscellaneous short stores in the series into one volume -- I'd like to read them to help complete the big story. In the meantime, I am awaiting the next novel in the series.

5-0 out of 5 stars A prequel and a sequel all in one
"The Final Key" is not only the sequel to "Schism"; it's also the prequel to "Primary Inversion," the book that launched Ms. Asaro's Skolian Empire series.

Here, Soz is just about finished with her cadet training when the Eubians manage to sabotage the Skolian defenses and create chaos.

A suspenseful and well paced battle scene is the centerpiece of the book, and a suspenseful and excruciating battle with drug addiction serves as a great B story. As is usually the case with Catherine Asaro, she makes her characters seem like real people, and maybe you'll relate to Soz's fears as circumstances force her to assume a role she's not yet qualified to fill, and the struggles of Eldrin to free himself from his addiction.

As a sequel, the book finishes the tale begun in "Schism" very neatly, but as a prequel, some of the suspense is lost, because longtime readers know what will happen to the various Skolians down the line.

Newcomers to the series obviously should not start here, but either with "Primary Inversion" or "Schism." (A time line at the back of the book will guide those new readers.)

Notes and Asides. To Ms. Asaro: can we have more about the Blue Dale Archers, please? To Ms. Asaro's publisher: can we please have the short stories, doubtlessly all published in different places, that are mentioned in the timeline in a one- or two-volume collection? Thanks. ... Read more

20. The Charmed Sphere (Misted Cliffs, Book 1)
by Catherine Asaro
Mass Market Paperback: 480 Pages (2005-07-01)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$117.88
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 037381111X
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Award-winning author Catherine Asaro, creator of The Skolian Empire, creates her first full-length fantasy novel in a world rich with magic and power. Fans who caught a glimpse of the kingdom of Aronsdale in "Moonglow" from the Charmed Destinies collection are delighted with the result!

What was the use of being a powerful mage if you couldn't learn the spells?

Once Chime had been the most promising mage in the land, feted and celebrated for her potential and future role in the kingdom. The Iris, he young competitor, made a stunning leap in skill and turned Chime's world upside down.

Now no longer the most powerful, no longer promised to a prince -- and still unable to harness her magic properly -- Chime was set adrift. As was the new king's cousin -- and former heir -- Lord Muller. Yet when the neighboring kingdom threatened war, Muller and Chime were tasked with uncovering the plot. Both were flawed, yet unwilling to accept a lesser destiny than they had once known. Could this quest be the opportunity for redemption -- or would it lead them to their deaths? ... Read more

Customer Reviews (48)

2-0 out of 5 stars Zzzzzzzzzz
I don't know what to say. I agree with the other one and two star reviewers. I finished the book only by skipping over some sections. The characters are dull, the conflicts are boring. The 'magic' is just weird. Other reviewers say her other books are better, I'll try one of those.

3-0 out of 5 stars Pleasant read, nothing extraordinary
This was an easy reading book - I do not know what Asaro's intended audience was, but I would say that it would appeal most to high school girls (although there is a fair amount of sexual content later in the series). The style, plot, and feminine characters were somewhat reminiscent of Mercedes Lackey.

I agree with other reviewers in that the setting of the story is not very imaginative, and that the most unique aspect was her take on magic. I have read several books in this series and this was actually one of my least favorite. I found the character Chime to be somewhat annoying, especially at the beginning. Based on this book, I probably would not have continued the series if I wasn't getting it from the library, but it does improve in my opinion.

2-0 out of 5 stars Intriguing premise destroyed by clunky writing
This shows that you can't judge a book by its cover.I bought this while browsing a used bookstore because the cover caught my eye.I thought the elegant art and clear promise of romance meant that this book was for adults who like their books well-written and complex.Asaro was listed as a Nebula winner, so I took a chance.Alas, no.I got through the first several chapters but the writing quality was so distractingly bad that I can't make myself finish it.The author felt compelled to hit us over the head with every point, and after the third "Chime winced" I had had enough.The main character is also rather annoying -- quirky, yes, but in a rather precious way.She doesn't want a better life, to travel, to develop her talents, or indeed to have any ambition whatsover; no, she just wants to climb trees and eat apples -- how original! what a tomboy!This is a classic example of a book failing because the author could only tell, not show.The magic system, hint of political intrigue, and romance would have been interesting to explore further, but the writing was just too abysmal.

4-0 out of 5 stars A beautiful fantasy romance
This story is the second of a series that begins with 'Moonglow' in the anthology 'Charmed Destinies' and continues with the novels 'The Misted Cliffs' and 'The Dawn Star'. It can be read without knowing 'Moonglow', but I think it's a lot better if you know that novella first.
In the kingdom of Aronsdale, the most powerful female mage always marries the king to rule and protect the kingdom by his side. In 'Moonglow', Prince Jarid and the young mage apprentice Iris found each other, but had to confront serious problems since Jarid is, unusual enough for a man, a powerful mage and grew up in the wilderness deaf, dumb and blind as the result of a spell gone wrong. 'The Charmed Sphere' actually starts before these events and retells them to a certain degree. (I would call this the one weakness of the book, since the retelling of Jarid's and Iris' story is nowhere near as strong as the original novella if you don't know 'Moonglow', and pretty superfluous if you have read it.) 'The Charmed Sphere' concentrates on Jarid's cousin Muller, who was supposed to become king until Jarid was found, and the young mage Chime, who was considered the most powerful mage of her generation until Iris surpassed her. Both are actually content with their loss of the throne since Muller's magical talent is somehow twisted so he can't control it, and Chime comes from a family of farmers and feels she's not intelligent and high-born enough for her new position at court. But both will be needed when a power-hungry neighbour wants to conquer Aronsdale with the help of a rogue mage who abuses his power to harm people. And this dark mage wants Chime for himself - even if he has to kidnap her or kill her beloved, Muller. Muller and Chime will have to come to terms with their powers and their position at court to save each other and their love...
As in 'Moonglow', this fantasy world, its magic and characters are well-developed, there's a good and convincing plot, and the book is simply beautiful. With the one weakness of the (sometimes exact) repetition of passages from 'Moondglow', I enjoyed it very much and would recommend it as beautiful fantasy romance.

4-0 out of 5 stars Charmed Sphere
Catherine Asaro sucks you in with her writing. There are mages, war, love, pain and healing. It rates top 5 of my all time favourite series. ... Read more

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