Author ~ Tami Veldura
Publisher ~ Oldewolff Alternascents
Published ~ 15th April 2016
Genre ~ Sci-Fi M/M Romance
Kato Ozark, crown prince and soldier, has just been chosen to pilot his family’s queenship. He’s trained his entire life for this honor, but it comes with a catch. It seems that First Engineer Mas’ud Tavana has also been chosen as the queen’s pilot. Mas’ud has no formal training, and they both believe a mistake has been made. But when an attack on a distant Ozark queen forces them to work together, it’s clear their minds are better as one than apart.
They might even go on a proper date. Through mission briefings and politically required offspring, the mental link their queenship forges between them only grows stronger. Within this bond they find strength in each other. Then a rogue AI attacks their ship, ripping the queen open to the core. The two pilots feel it all; the assault destroys their connection and tears them adrift into open space.
Kato and Mas’ud wake up in the medical bay of a rival family with no memory of their queenship or each other. Hailed as a war hero, Kato retrains as a kingship pilot, preparing to defend Earth against the AI. Mas’ud, dismissed as permanently broken, struggles to rediscover his own truth.
Their queenship is out there, waiting for her pilots to come home. The future of their family depends on it.
This book really was an unexpected treat. Not that I don’t routinely expect good things to come my way from the Sinfully ‘please review me’ lists but because it’s quite a short book and I expected the focus to be tightly on romance with a few sci fi trappings rather than a huge complex and exciting world with a touching romance woven into it.
In scope the book reminds me of Dune, and there’s no praise higher than that. It depicts a sprawling universe connecting by wondrous new forms of technology analogous to wormhole travel that may be exploited by the queenships – huge sentient constructions that can slip through the gaps in reality and emerge elsewhere carrying a huge payload of crew and materiel. Their ability is used by trading houses who have built up empires along the spaceways, a bit like the East India Company, with their own military wings to protect their interests. The queenships are self-sustaining and with the help of their pilots can reorganise, repair and create using the matter about them. The relationship between queen and pilot is a combining of intellect and will and only the most exceptional minds can withstand the enormous pressure. It really is the most extreme form of multi-tasking. Imagine trying to calculate your taxes, cook a meal, entertain a child by building a lego spaceship, explain over the phone to your mother why you won’t be able to come to dinner on Sunday and conduct interspatial diplomacy while someone is shooting at you with a matter disruptor [which is pretty much like the mother thing come to think of it].
Minor trading houses who do not possess queenships, which all stem from the first one of their kind and are very rarely born, have to trade locally or pay a premium to use the rare gateways. These are few and costly to use. The action in the book is kicked off when rumour suggests that a new gateway has been constructed in a galaxy that is unaffiliated with any of the big trading houses. At the same time, and completely secretly, one of the houses has finally managed to crack the science to build brand new queenships who do not have any allegiance to the original queenship family. Both these things are huge threats to the status quo.
So there’s the world and the situation, and into it is born Selvans, a brand new queenship of great lineage who picks a pilot from a small pool of candidates. She chooses Kato Ozark, related by birth to two of the greatest trading houses and trained from childhood in the techniques needed to be a great pilot, So far so routine, but then Selvans throws everyone into a dither by demanding that First Engineer Ma’sud be her pilot too. Forced together by a deadly new threat, Kato and Ma’sud have no choice but to comply and discover that their minds mesh so perfectly via Selvans that they can achieve astonishing things.
Then there are adventures and space battles, chicanery, double-dealing, betrayal, disasters and reunions, and that’s a hell of a lot to pack into 150 odd pages. The sheer volume of information is the only real downside. In this slimmish volume the author has packed as much world building as I’d expect to see in a book twice the thickness and I think it suffered a bit for that. Because the action spans the whole universe the point of view isn’t so much split as splintered as we join members of one house or another, see what’s happening on one ship then hop to a different vessel. I loved this but readers who prefer the tight focus on just one or two points of view to really dig down into the emotional depth of a romance might find it distracting. This isn’t to say that the romance lacks depth – Kato and Ma’sud are a lovely and memorable couple – but it’s the world that really pleased me and the huge diversity of the characters. All races are represented, there are many nicely presented female characters, and one of the protagonists is trans. Don’t be afraid to refresh your memory from the dramatis personae at the end of the book, I had to quite a lot because there are a LOT of people here.
To sum up, an excellent space opera with terrific leads, wonderful descriptions of action and a sweet romance. I was a little disconcerted by how much had been shoehorned into the page count and by some plot threads that had been left hanging but I see that the book has been labelled as Queenships #1 and as the first in a series I think it’s terrific. Can’t wait to see what the author shows us next.