Reasons for Inclusion: F/F relationship. Alseans have a different view on gender/sex than Gaians. Racially diverse secondary cast.
F/F space opera is already one of the fastest ways to get my attention, but F/F space opera with First Contact, empaths, and altruistic, heroic leads? That had me sold from the first few chapters.
Lancer Andira Tal, chief of the warrior caste on Alsea, is woken in the middle of the night to the news that an alien spacecraft is about to crash near their biggest city.
And it turns out the aliens are not invaders but heroes. The crew of the Caphenon sacrificed their ship to save Alsea from the Vorloth, a species of slavers and destroyers who have chosen Alsea as their next target.
Captain Ekatya Serrado and her lover, anthropologist Lhyn Rivers are no sooner introduced to the Alsean leadership than they’re once again helping them fight off Vorloth weapons.
The two races are going to need to trust each other if Alsea is to be saved, but so many things can get in the way.
I liked this story a lot. Lhyn was probably my favorite character. She’s thrilled to meet a new species, and spends most of her time learning as much as she can about Alsea.
Much of the book is spent discussing cultural differences between Alseans and Gaians- and that’s not a bad thing. A lot of worldbuilding thought went into how the Alseans’ empathy, ethics, and caste system shapes their culture and their responses to both the Gaians and the Vorloth invaders.
I’m not a big fan of battle scenes, so those seemed to drag, but that’s mostly a personal opinion. The ethics involved in planning battle tactics, on the other hand, were very interesting: sometimes uncomfortable, never simple, leaving questions for a reader to think on.
The characters really shine, especially the main three. Their motivations, cultural backgrounds, ethical codes, relationships old and new, all come together in believable interactions that never get boring.
Anyone who wants thoughtful lesbian scifi should check this out!
(Review copy received through Netgalley)