Ehsan has been Silas’ father, maker, lover, and companion for twenty years. Ehsan made Silas his life’s work and, now that his nephew had delivered the latest injection of code, Silas will be that much more. That all changes when a mysterious, green-eyed man boards Ehsan’s tiny space vessel. Silas is summarily shoved into an ejection pod, but immediately before he is shot into space to rot and die, he sees the green-eyed man kill the only person Silas has ever known, all because Ehsan played dumb about the new code Silas had already received.
Silas’ pod crashes into a dank, forsaken planet. The mean streets are cramped with hateful beings who cannot deign to help a lost, distraught human like Silas. After one rejection too many, Silas leaps at the one being who deigns to even acknowledge him: a huge, scaly, and black Calite named Loc. Humans and Calites have a tremendously fraught past filled with bitter power struggles, oppression, and war. Silas and Loc should be at one another’s throats. But Loc isn’t going to hold an accident of species against Silas and Silas isn’t going to let the only person who’s deigned to help him slip through his fingers. Stranger still, they not only tolerate one another, but gravitate towards each other. They may just have met, but when danger strikes, Silas and Loc refuse to leave the other behind.
The struggle kicks into high gear when a side trip to a supposedly safe planet turns into a nightmare. Just as things reach a fever pitch, a certain green-eyed man comes back to search for Silas, realizing there is something special about the one he threw away when he killed Ehsan. But there’s no guarantee that saving Silas will give him the answers from the code he seeks.
Violent Horizons is a sci-fi dystopian space opera from author Sam Clover. The action flows around our three main characters: Silas, Loc, and Tejas (the green-eyed man). In addition to a more mainstream get-together romance between Silas and Loc, the addition of Tejas makes for an enticing and altogether separate array of character dynamics. Silas is arguably a version of the archetypal good-guy; Loc is his often irate lover who goes along with the do-gooding because it keeps Silas happy; and Tejas is a marvelously deviant wild card.
The tone of the book really sets it apart from a lot of sci-fi I have read. Clover absolutely does not shy away from getting violent or gory, even with our main characters. Hell, Tejas has a hard on for torture and delights in the act.. As someone who avoids gratuitous violence and gore, I though Clover struck a great balance between describing just how awful the world is as Loc and Silas experience it (war-ravaged, rent by racial/species loathing, militant control by all-powerful aliens that eat you), and softening the despair with intense bouts of Loc and Silas blissfully loving on each other (against all odds).
Fans of the monster-fucking genre will be super pleased with Loc. He is described as being massive lizard with near impenetrable scales that cover his skin, a tail, and body ridges on his head. Bonus: he lost an eye somewhere in his dubious past. Bonus bonus: by the end of the book, so much as been revealed about Silas, the idea of who is the actual “monster” is up for some debate. Fans of the size-difference trope and dominant/submissive themes will enjoy having Loc paired with the delicate Silas. Silas, for one, absolutely loves getting wrecked by Loc. The fact that he can not only take a venomous mating with a Calite, but that he’ll immediately ask for round two is partly what kicks off the Silas/Loc relationship, I think. I love that Luc goes through an entire gamut of emotions, that he reveals this to Silas in a low-stakes setting, and that eventually, it all works out.
And finally, I think Tejas is a fantastic way to stir the pot. All of everything Loc and Silas endure and survive was exciting, but Tejas as a complete wild card just kept me on the edge of my seat. He’s described as a technophile, basically a human with extreme levels of technological knowledge and capabilities. The guy blew up a planet because he felt like it. He tortures people for fun and honestly doesn’t understand why his victims don’t think it’s just as great for them as it is for him. And he seems to want Silas. At first, I wondered if this would turn into some sort of romance (or lust) triangle, but it seems like Tejas wants Silas in his life just to be there (and probably torture a little). It is easy to write Tejas off as the bad guy; he does kill Ehsan without remorse. But he keeps following Silas and offers him (and by extension the people who make Silas happy) help. Overall, I think Tejas sort of embodies the spirit of chaotic (self-serving) neutral.
If you’re looking for a stunning, sweeping, space epic, I highly recommend this book. If you like it when stories raise the stakes by making it super clear that your main characters are vulnerable physically and emotionally, Clover delivers big on that score. Fans for niche things like monsterfucking and size difference should love the dynamic between Loc and Silas, too. The grittiness of the plot and extreme depictions of danger may not suit everyone, but readers who want a harder-hitting book are sure to enjoy.