A military spacecraft captain tries to keep her crew safe while battling pirates, creatures, and an alien race that Holy Scriptures declared eradicated in this sci-fi adventure.
Capt. Shirakaya is ecstatic, having found a protostar that can replenish her sorcery with magical ions. Unfortunately, aliens launch a sudden assault that Shirakaya and the people aboard Celestial narrowly survive. Following the attack, the sorceress starts to feel her magic dwindling. What’s worse is that the aliens appeared to be koth’vurians, a race long ago vanquished, according to religious text. The Ruzurai, rulers of the Tal’manac Order, refuse to believe that Shirakaya witnessed the koth’vurians and send her on another mission. The captain and her crew, including oracle (and Shirakaya’s lover) Jedalia, search for a tourist cruise that’s gone offline, only to uncover a hijacking. Shirakaya’s subsequent shore leave to see her family turns out much the same: she and bodyguard Yarasuro have to rescue her brother Khal’jan from a murderous artificial intelligence. It isn’t long, though, before Shirakaya once again faces off against the koth’vurians, led by the formidable Ashkaratoth. Shirakaya’s predicament, meanwhile, turns dire as her magic continues to weaken. She’s not able to save everyone, and she fears she’s lost so many people that the Ruzurai will soon have her court-martialed. The story delves right into action and rarely lets up. The Celestial crew’s exploits are endless fun, braving monsters from the air and sea, with an emergency touchdown on planet MJ453 and a crash landing on another, unknown world. Shirakaya’s arcane abilities are familiar but chic; she casts icicles and fireballs and uses telekinesis to hurl enemies through the air. There are times when the novel feels like a series of short tales, the captain and others jumping from one misfortune to the next. Centeno (Blood Immortal, 2015, etc.) does, however, tie them together, especially with characters like Xorvaj, a pirate who threatens to kill children in one scene and returns later as a pseudo-ally. The concluding chapter takes the saga on a drastic turn, but it’s a welcome one that puts Shirakaya on the same side as seedy characters and sets the stage for Book 2.
Sci-fi and fantasy merge to form an entertaining romp in space.