Asaro has begun her Skolian Empire saga with a strong first novel. Sauscony Valdoria is one of the few true Rhon left in the Allied worlds. Only Rhon can rule ‘psiberspace’ and manipulate the invasive, essential Skolian Web (similar but on a totally different scale to the Internet), and for that there needs to be a Triad. Soz is one of 2 possible heirs to the military arm of the Triad, the other being her own brother (while another brother, Kurj, currently holds the position). Ambition, missions, secrets and manipulations have made Soz and her family distrustful of each other, while with their telepathic gifts they have an undeniable need for closeness – a need Kurj sees as a weakness.
Soz is not only telepathic, but also a bioengineered psi warrior pilot – thus on all fronts she seems to inspire fear rather than love. She’s long lived, and has a history behind her that brings much depth to the character, and the reader is able to read much into her actions as a result.
Jaibroil Highton is the Highton heir to the Traders – enemies of the Skolian empire. When Soz and Jaiobriol first meet, they find they are able to make the rare psi bond of true Rhon – essentially they are enemies, but the only true match for each other.
Asaro doesn’t make it easy for Soz, who is conflicted by many loyalties and also by her own drives, desires and ambitions. Ultimately events work around her until she feels she has no choice but to act, although the cost is high. By the end of the book, she has lost as much as she has gained.
A strong, complex, character driven novel with much in it as a vision of the future. The scientific elements are well thought out and well drawn, although I did get a little lost in the science of it from time to time. Nevertheless, a must for any Psi-Fi (ha!) reader