4 out of 5 stars
Share This Review
A hot, sweet romance that crosses much more than galaxies
Amaya's Legacy by Fiona Forbes is the most stunning story I've read this year - for at least five reasons.
First, its opening scene teleports you right into the action. You're beamed down into a Baqnian ship on course to colonize Earth. Although the Honorable Rameda Wenz (age: 267 Baqnian years) is convinced that the planet's warring, destructive human inhabitants need to be brought in line with Federation regulations for their own good, inter-species negotiator Zhan questions the ethics of subduing an intelligent species.
Despite the sense of superiority to Earth, there's more to Planet Baqnia than its by-the-book "Mainstream" would admit. Tall and humanoid, Baqnians also have feline DNA whose origins are the stuff of the legends told by the Teneri tribe Zhan descends from on one side. While Mainstream Baqnians take pains to suppress their naheem - symbionts with properties mostly beyond human(oid) understanding - the Teneri know naheem are much more than a force balancing two types of DNA. Mixed-origin Zhan can sense others' energy to the point of synaesthesia. When he tastes "hot-and-sweet shari spice" (p.12) even from a hologram of earthling Leana (Lee) Barry, he can't get her out of his mind.
This brings me to this book's second great strength, its complex and intriguing characters. As athletic as she is academically gifted, Lee is a headstrong and independent female protagonist. Even as she and Zhan feel irresistibly drawn to one another, she remains wary of his true intentions and nature. Thanks to some deft plotting (a third major plus), so does the reader. While "irresistible attraction" may seem a romantic cliche, our heroes' affinity is the product of a history so complex that the shocks keep coming right up to the end of the novel. Sometimes Zhan and Lee's love play got a little cringeworthy, yet that's forgivable in that it provided some comic relief from the tension building in another plotline involving the resistance to the Baqnian invasion. This brings me to a fourth strength of this story, namely, its pacing and variety. While everything fitted logically into the fictional world, the action was never predictable.
In that connection, this book includes some violence and gore as well as sex scenes, making it suitable for a mature audience. Indeed, those who have grown up with the classics like Star Trek, Star Wars or The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy will love the nods to those sources of inspiration. To give just a couple of examples, Star Wars mavens may have already noted the "Federation" and "the resistance", while the "slobbering spiked rindero" references popping up throughout are delightfully reminiscent of Hitchhiker's. Strong point number five would be the book's language.
"Rindero" is just one of the colourful words included: Zhan is forever cursing in Baqnian. On another note, he laments the paucity of Earth words for "love", and only Baqnian words can do justice to the full love spectrum. Forbes has a knack for creating original, vivid images, such as, "Courage was failing fast, like the last glimmer of sunlight before a moonless night." (p.146). In this way she depicts her characters' emotions as the story explores moral and spiritual themes. Mostly she uses clever devices to convey information about the book's world. For example, a young, enthusiastic computer technician is only too keen to walk Lee through Baqnian culture. However, Forbes occasionally errs on the side of info-dumping, with explanations for the reader's benefit bloating characters' conversations. This was only a slight and occasional downside that would not have led me to reduce the star rating. Based on its many strengths, I would have liked to give this book a perfect score, but unfortunately site policy obliges me to go down to four out of five stars because I found more than ten typos. However, these were not overly distracting.
Science fantasy fans, I urge you to take the trip to this world of humanoids with feline attributes, of invasion and resistance, of energies of attraction and repulsion, the life-affirming battling the life-destroying as science snarls at legend and reason struggles with passion. I hope you return from the voyage as deeply impressed as I was. This is the first book in a series, and I eagerly await the adventures to come.
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon