"Jade Darcy And The Zen Pirates is a sequel to the first Jade Darcy novel by Stephen Goldin and his wife Mary Mason. But it is far more than a follow-on story. It is a wonderful, amazing and gripping story of a young woman mercenary with cyborg improvements who has refused to feel most human emotions out of fear that the Earth military, from whom she deserted after being raped, will find her on a remote planet.
Darcy's adventures could fill a year's worth of TV shows, and her reality is far more convincing than any reality TV show. This female mercenary can kick the stuffings out of almost any opponent . . . except for herself. In this sequel Jade and her elder employer Megan, a corporate mogul with white hair and a delightful sense of humor, travel to the alien world of Restaapa to attend the selection ceremonies for a new emperor. This world is ancient, subject to years-long freezing episodes and the alien culture would make the tight strictures of pre-modern Japan seem moderate. On this world your status is shown mostly by your clothing and by the clan you live with. Jade and Megan are two of the very few off-worlders allowed to visit Restaapa, supposedly for business purposes. Almost as soon as they arrive they are attacked. Other attacks cause deaths and injuries in the alien monastery where most of the story occurs.
There follows a fascinating "who is doing this?" mystery that wraps around the struggle by many Restaapan groups to have their candidate named as the new emperor. The world building is wonderful. The alien species and their culture is outstanding. The storyline is complex. And the action is non-stop. You would expect professional authors like Goldin and Mason to weave a decent tale, but this story kept drawing me back from food and sleep breaks out of an intense desire to know "what happens next!" This is science fiction storytelling at its timeless best, featuring a character you root for because she, like all of us, needs to be loved. And perhaps by the end of this tale she will understand the value of being loved as humans love one another."