Monday, August 31, 2009

Everyone is DOOMED

Catherine Asaro has a space opera series called Saga of the Skolian Empire. It's about an evil torturing empire (The Traders), an authoritarian telepathic empire (Skolians), and the Earthlings trapped between them. The main characters are the telepathic ruling family of the second empire, except that one of them has secretly infiltrated the evil empire as its Emperor. He is trying to bring peace to the galaxy, but it is hard work. Many of the books show him struggling mightily. But I know it is all useless, because an early book in the series is set about fifty years further along, and the war still rages. Evil is winning.

This makes reading all the books a little more interesting. I don't know if Asaro had an overarching plan or if she got many more chances to write in her universe than she expected and is frantically trying to have happy endings along the way. Either way, I recently wanted to reread the book that tells me it is all a wasted effort, Catch the Lightning. It was interesting reading, especially now that so much of the history has been filled in. Tina is a strong telepath from an alternate Earth, and Althor is a warrior from the telepathic empire, one of the super powerful royal family. But he is also deeply handicapped, with a warped family life caused by the manipulations of the general who fostered him. His vulnerabilities lead him to keep many secrets from Tina, which she accepts as the sort of thing men do. The story lurches along several different settings, with little transition between them. We start off on an alternate Earth, then jump to a space station, than an evil empire yacht, then an ancient planet from an extinct civilization. The plot weaknesses I remembered, but I like how Asaro's characters seem real even as her dialogue and internal thoughts are clumsy. It's also fun to see characters I know from other books in their early incarnations, since this book was written first even though it is chronologically last. It's more interesting as an alternate viewpoint and a future point for the histories than on it's own. C+

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