4 out of 4 stars
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Change by N G Nelson is the first novel of a science fiction saga. The murder of the Heir Royal Ral Dannan triggers a series of events that include intrigue around and even within the Imperial Court. Major Patricea Markis gets involved to assist Marshal Varian in the protection of Prince Kal Jerran and Princess Vel Nadia. The Emperor knows that his other grandson, Prince Ral Karjeck, intends to proclaim himself Emperor. Understanding who is loyal to the Emperor, who is old and sick, and who is loyal to his grandson Ral Karjeck is difficult.
On Earth, Paul and Bernadette are shocked when a bang in the sky is followed by a group of armed people who kidnap them and other locals to bring them to planet Es-ra to use them as forced labor. Ruthless guards beat and even kill their prisoners whenever they want.
This saga is set in a universe full of civilizations of humanoid species in various stages of advancement. Such a common presence of humanoids is a mystery to them. The Earth is a backward planet, as there are interstellar civilizations such as the Imperium, ruled by the Sarajevias Dynasty, where most of the novel is set. Its inhabitants are a species different from humans but, in this fictional universe, humanoids share similarities in their emotions and feelings as much as in their physical appearance. That makes it easy to understand the characters' motives and reactions to the events, which are all important elements in their development.
An interstellar empire facing a crisis is a theme used that has been used in science fiction for decades. N G Nelson found a new angle to use that theme creating a complex cosmic landscape in which advanced technologies are used for intrigue and deception. Since the beginning of the novel, it's clear that there are various layers of secrets around the Sarajevias Dynasty and only the first ones are accessed in this novel. The mix of elements is skillfully used to create several twists that can change the readers' impression of one or more characters. This was the element I appreciated the most in this novel.
The only part of the novel I found not completely satisfying was the subplot that started on Earth with Paul and Bernadette as its protagonists. There's great tension because, after they're captured and used as forced labor, they're always in danger. Some bits are disturbing for the guards' brutality. My problem is that this subplot seems to go nowhere until the end of the novel.
My complaint pales in comparison to the merits of a novel full of wonders and revelations that keep the readers' attention until the end. Note that the end is actually made of more twists that will be developed in the sequels, as this is only the first book of a saga that tells a bigger story. Some bits are quite graphic, so they make the novel unsuitable for readers who are young or triggered by brutality. In comparison, some mild sex acts and the common use of profanity are secondary.
Change was exceptionally well edited, as I found just one error. This is a very promising start of a saga, so I'm happy to rate it 4 out of 4 stars. If you want to read a science fiction saga full of surprises and don't mind some brutality, I recommend this one.
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