4 out of 4 stars
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Rulers of the Galaxy by Tayma Tameem takes place in a setting mixed with elements of science fiction and fantasy. There's a variety of humanoid races who are mostly in a state of warfare with each other, which ranges from sword-fighting to spaceship battles in outer space.
In this galaxy, the Elementals and Imperials have been at bitter terms with each other. The Imperial High-Minister has decided to initiate a hostile takeover of the Elemental planet, with the final intent of destroying any defenses the planet may have and the royal family ruling over it. More than anything, however, the High-Minister hopes to get rid of the King and Queen's newly-born baby, who seems to have powers that could be a menace to the future of the Empire as the ruling power in the galaxy.
The story follows the events that lead up to the deciding attack on the planet, and the fallout of it afterwards. The perspective shifts between multiple points before and after the attack, and between the Empire's most efficient military man, General Daaken, and a woman with elvish features who has woken up in the middle of the battlefield with no recollection of anything beyond her name and her combat skills: Salarin. Other characters' points of view appear throughout the plot, but the central story revolves around Salarin's adoption of the baby, and her quest to determine her past, along with the baby's, in the middle of a galaxy-wide conflict that threatens not only her life and her companions', but also the future of the entire galaxy.
The storytelling of Tameem in this book is quite engaging. As mentioned before, the story is presented in a fractured chronology, but not in a way that leaves the reader lost. The pieces of the puzzle reveal themselves slowly but surely with each chapter. Jumping back in time from the present really feels like seeing the memories come back to the amnesiac Salarin; they're not coming back in order, but they're still painting the picture clearly.
Tameem has a talent for giving you plot twists when you least expect them in the middle of a scene. There's a scene in which General Daaken is speaking to someone that sneaks in a plot twist, which leaves you looking at all you've read so far in a different light; similarly, the King of the Elemental planet has a conversation that casually mentions a shocking revelation. I have mixed feelings about some of the twists, as some of them felt like they went too far or too deep, but one thing that is praiseworthy about them is the way they were presented.
The war-faring politics were credible, easy to follow and were written well, which I would say is very important for a book of this scale. The book lives up to its name, Rulers of the Galaxy. In particular, the High-Minister had some scenes where he deals with the leaders of other factions while in the middle of all the other planning he's doing for the war he has started. He's a short-tempered man, but he makes up for that flaw with his diabolically clever mind, able to make excellent decisions that give immediate results and cover all bases in the long term for his Empire.
There is a particular character that is quite bothersome to see at first. This person comes in a late part of the book and leaves a path of destruction that undoes a lot of things that Salarin and her companions had done. It all happens very fast and with an efficiency that is too perfect. This part of the story could have been done better. Perhaps by introducing the character, and what they did, earlier in the story, at a more steady pace.
By the end of the book, several questions that had been raised at the beginning have been fully answered, which leaves the reader with some resolution while also clearly setting up a sequel. There are several plot points left hanging and a clear path set for the protagonists and antagonists to follow for a future installment. With all of that taken into account and the small emount of errors present, Rulers of the Galaxy deserves a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. This novel is highly recommended for fans of both science fiction and fantasy, especially if they also enjoy epic scales and stories with shocking twists.
Rulers of the Galaxy
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