An alien woman tries to track down her former lover in the first installment of Meierz’s (The Fall, 2015, etc.) new Exiles of the Drift series, set in the same universe as the Tales of Tolari Space.
Farryn, who belongs to an empathic race known as the Tolari, once ruthlessly ruled over the province of Monralar. Before this chapter in the ongoing saga, however, he fled and was exiled from his people for what he considered a just cause that manifested in his killing a “child for political advantage.” Now, as the head of a new crime family, he lives among humans in one of their planetary colonies of Far India. Meanwhile, Farryn’s former “pair-bonded” lover, Sharana, who had tried to put their past behind her, finds herself drawn to discovering what happened to him, leading her to track him down. Not long after her quest begins, however, she is captured by Adeline Russell, a Central Security officer trying to trap Farryn. Adeline has Sharana tortured in order to get information on Farryn, using her as a pawn to go after the actual target. There is a great deal to praise about Meierz’s novel, which, in addition to remarkable prose, centers on richly drawn characters in a beautifully detailed world. The conceit of Earth’s future based around Indian and Hindi culture is a refreshing one, given the American/Eurocentric bent to most sci-fi. Additionally, Farryn makes for a fascinating antihero. Readers might be surprised to find themselves equally drawn to and repelled by his and Sharana’s love story. At the same time, the novel is not particularly welcoming to new readers. They’ll be able to follow the basic gist, but intricacies of the political situation will likely be lost on those who haven’t read the preceding series. Furthermore, after a thrilling opening, Sharana spends the majority of the novel imprisoned and victimized—a disappointing fate for a female character with such potential.
Not without its flaws but a solid entry for readers craving new, original space operas.