Book: The Radiant Seas
Author: Catherine Asaro
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
SPOILER ALERT! This review discusses themes and arcs in the books that reveal key plot points.
I really enjoyed the first book in this series with the way Asaro mixed some hard science with softer romance and some very interesting bio-engineering and psychic abilities. It was new (to me at least) and different than a lot of other science fiction I’d read. I didn’t enjoy this one as much, however. It was still a good book and a decent ending, but I found myself not liking the main characters, which was a problem.
In the first book, Sauscony was a fully dimensional character who struggled with her title and role as a leader and fighter and her needs and wants as a woman and empath. The struggle was dynamic, and I felt there was a pivotal moment when she realized that she was born to lead and had a commitment to her people. With an ongoing war that has killed millions of people, she was even given the opportunity to meld two enemy nations together. Instead, she went into hiding to have her perfect family life.
That was forgivable, given her needs as a woman. However, in this book, after living her dream life for sixteen years or so, once again she’s thrust into power and the war, and once again she has the opportunity to take that mantle with her new husband the Emperor and her three children born of two races. What disappointed me was that once again, she runs and hides, faking her death and leaving two interstellar nations adrift, leaderless, and in chaos (where history tells us that typically the worst sort of dictators tend to seize control, taking advantage of people’s fears). I thought that was unforgiveable, especially given her epiphany in the first book.
Asaro tries to save the day with the son’s sacrifice, but to me, this was like second best, and he wasn’t developed enough as a character for this to satisfy me. I never understood why his identity as half Rhon had to be hidden. In order to fool the Eubians into letting him rule? Okay, maybe. But it just seemed like he missed a perfect opportunity to throw all their preconceived notions on their heads.
So to me this was a good book, but not entirely satisfying, and I won’t be reading the remaining books of the series.