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Tethyn, who lives on the sentient planet, is given the task of introducing Lewis, an envoy from First Home, to Circe, taking him to her secret home where Circe resides. Lewis desires Tethyn, but she is reluctant to surrender herself to him, wishing to retain her independence.
As Lewis meets and talks to Circe through Tethyn, he realizes the importance of this encounter to him as well as his planet. He leaves profoundly affected, realizing there is more to Circe than she is willing to share.
Danger appears, as others known to Lewis from First Home make several attempts to control the situation, wishing to gain power and prestige for themselves.
Written with intelligence, grace, and empathy, I found this book to be a fascinating journey, one remembered long after the book was finished. Well done, Ms. Rook. 5 stars.
The beginning had me less interested as I had difficulting following the large chunks of dialog and who was speaking to whom and why. It wasn't until the Envoy arrives that I started to become involved enough to continue reading. At this point, the dialog seemed to level out and I could follow along much better. The conflict ultimately had less bit than I would have expected, but I still enjoyed the book if not being one that I would be pulled into reading in one or two sittings.
Overall, a good story with original content, if not a bit bloated and dialogue could have flowed better.
It's like "Jupiter Ascending meets Fifth Element"
When an envoy comes from the planet of First Home, Tethyn is assigned to be his guide on an excursion to a special place on her planet, the planet of Circe. Like most Circeans, Tethyn has a bond to the planet of Circe and the planet itself is a sentient being trying to understand and nurture its human inhabitants.
The social mores of Circe and First Home are different and this leads to confusion and hurt feelings on both sides from time to time but ultimately, the true danger comes from a rival family from First Home that wants to abduct the envoy and members of his family.
The book has a lot of great things going for it, mixing elements from classic science fiction books like Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness, Friedman’s In Conquest Born/The Wilding, Herbert’s Whipping Star/Dosadi Experiment, with the novels of manners romances in the line of Austen.
I have a couple of problems with this book. This story seemed to have a tough time deciding whether it was a science fiction story or a romance.
The cultures themselves didn’t feel sufficiently distinct and for a science fiction story, this should have been the crux of everything. Everybody seemed to understand everyone else’s point of view when it came to social matters and far to willing to forgive and forget when their mores were at loggerheads. The Circeans were supposed to be much more feministic and civilized, with their women being equal to the men, and yet the culture seemed to have just as many rules and regulations for what was proper and what was improper as the “sexist” First Home culture, and most of those rules and regulations seemed to be the same.
And these proprieties and social mores were enough to get people to put down their weapons and walk away during armed conflict just because they didn’t want to break some delicate social convention; that struck me as improbable.
The main character, Tethyn, seemed to get angry at all manner of imagined slights, and then just as quickly forget about them. She seemed very fickle and not at all the product of some sort of progressive society. She seemed more like a young, inexperienced girl from the 1700’s whimsically dreaming of being swept off her feet by her knight in shining armor than a strong-minded working woman who had the ability connect psychically with a planet.
Which brings me to another issue I had which was that I expected Tethyn’s connection to the planet to do more for her and to make her somehow more powerful. But it seemed more like an afterthought and when push came to shove, the planet seemed to rely on people other than Tethyn.
The romantic side of the story felt forced to me. I never got the romantic connections and expectations; I never believed them. They never felt organic to these people in this place.
The villains and related conflicts seemed like afterthoughts.
If you like science fiction with highly stratified cultures with strict rules for who can be seen where and how people are supposed to act and more than a little romance, then you should give this book a shot.
The author's exploration of role reversals includes an inversion of the formula of creation as a ward of humanity and makes humanity a ward of creation. Or, specifically, a planet named Circe which I presume is a reflection on the Greek and Roman goddess of agriculture and witchcraft.
I'm reminded of other good reads with brave female characters such as Morgan Smith's A Spell in the Country, D.L. Gardner's Thread of a Spider, and Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God.