Rating: 5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

I believe my review of the first book in this Satura series was an oh-so eloquent declaration: “I love this book.” Well, forgive me for repeating myself but … I love this book. The characters, the plot, the world building, just all of it. It’s been three years since the I first reviewed That Distant Dream, but the wait was worth it. Picking up almost immediately where book one ended, this second entry in the Satura series has everything that made the first book so good, and then just gets better.

The first book ended with Melin and a handful of IASS soldiers in a small craft, crashing into one of the Dragonback Mountains. Once again, Melin is the sole survivor and, once again, she is forced to push aside and ignore the guilt and shame. Even if there were time, she is unable to give her companions a burial; instead, she leaves them to the elements and the giant cats already feasting on their bodies. It’s the slow resignation of putting one foot in front of the other and trying to make her way through snow covered mountains.

She was afraid to stop, period. Stopping would allow the pain to take over. Stopping meant the pain won and this struggle was for nothing.

Melin is still recovering from the trauma of her torture at the hands of the Mordevians, of having lost her ship, her crew, 13 years of her life, and there are moments where she simply … lets go. Moments where she lets her body do what it must without her guidance, because she can’t bear the crushing weight of what she’s living through. And there are times when she wishes she hadn’t survived. But something in Satura wants her to live. And, something in Melin wants to keep living, too.

Melin can seem passive, as if she’s just letting the currents carry her along, but she’s lost in the shadows of survival and capture. Even though she’s been captured by nicer people this time, even though she’s survived a smaller loss — while the soldiers that died were known to her, they weren’t her crew, her friends, not really — it’s still a blow on a slowly healing break. The dreams that haunted her when she came to Satura, of a queen, of centaurs and swords and a world of magic, may not be simply dreams. The red-headed queen, Mari Dell’Savrenet, lived and loved and died on this world.

She hasn’t been going mad. She’s been touched by Satura’s magic. And Satura wants something from her.

Khelek and Secara are the two bright lights for Melin in the darkness she’s drowning in. For all that they’re her captors, they treat her like a person. Secara, while keeping her prisoner, keeps her comfortable and informed. She asks for permission before laying hands on her, takes her for walks to show her how foolish attempts to escape are, and treats Khelek with the same regard she gives to Melin; she treats her like a person, not a thing.

Khelek is not the child his family wanted him to be. He’s lost in magic and his own ideas, in wanting to help break his people free of the occupation forced on them by the IASS for hundreds of years, but he has so little to offer. Exiled to the mountains, he was free of their constant judgement, and now he has some proof that the ancient magics might still exist, that Melin’s dreams might have an answer to a question he doesn’t know how to ask. Khelek is young, untested, but he wants so badly to help. To be useful. His friendship with Secara gives him confidence his family would strip away from him.

Khelek and Melin, the two primary points of view, are both broken people who will never be given the time they need to heal, because both of them — their goodness, their kindness, their belief and hope — will be needed and used. Used against them as much as used by them. And it’s heartbreaking.

The Satura series is about a world occupied by a colonizing force trying to break free. One side has space ships and powered armor, the other has magic, swords, and flying horses. But for all that Satura is the world to those who live on it, the universe is far bigger than one planet. Book one set the stage beautifully and this second book continues at full power, expanding the world, expanding upon the people, and expanding the plot. Things are getting more complex, more dangerous, and even more delightful. The author never gives us exposition, never explains anything, but gives just enough room for the reader to discover the answers along with the characters.

It’s a slow, languid book and yet every chapter is full of plot, world building, and character development. The writing is emotional, focused tightly on Melin and Khelek, which helps keep me invested in every part of the story. And the story itself is a wonderful merging of sword and sorcery — complete with a chosen one and flying horses — and a complex space opera with politics and intrigue. It’s as if this book took everything I liked and put it in one wonderfully written story. I am so very looking forward to the next book in the series!

Again, I loved this book.