When we first meet Liora, she’s locked in a cage, slave to a reptilian alien who uses her as star of his intergalactic circus. She’s “a trained killer with the beauty of a goddess.” She’s part human, part Damaclan which gives her superpowers like telepathy and super speed. She can share memories with others and even feel their pain for them. With all these awesome powers, I have to wonder how anyone would be able to make her a slave in the first place, let alone keep her locked up.
She ends up escaping and joining a starship crew which reminded me of Star Trek. They have shields, warp drive, humanoid aliens who are part of the crew, and even the iconic captain’s chair. They also have a very Star Trek mission which includes “equality of race, exploration of the Macrocosm, and advancement of knowledge for the growth and understanding of mortalkind.”
There’s a scene with aliens who have the ability to detect lies. Liora avoids their direct question, telling them things that are true, but changing the subject. Her former owner is also telling the truth, but the lie-detecting aliens believe her instead of him, which didn’t make sense to me.
Despite being set in the future, the world seemed a bit primitive at times. The doctor presses a bag of frozen berries to a bruise instead of using a cold pack. Misbehaving crew members have to clean the latrines, which you’d think would be self-cleaning this far into the future. There’s a scene in an alien market in which items such as beads, cloth, and dry goods are being sold. Another minor complain I had was the word “rant” was used when “rave” would have fit the context better.
It’s generally good writing practice to “show not tell.” Don’t simply tell us a character is angry, show us the anger through their facial expression, their actions, or what they say. It’s not major, but there are a couple “tell not show” moments.
There’s one character who is racist against Damaclans and it’s later revealed that the reason is a Damaclan killed his family. I found this a bit predictable, however it is a better reason for being racist than most racists today have.
I liked that a planet they visited had its own creatures, not just animals transplanted from earth. I also liked that a crew member got motion sickness during a shuttle landing. No matter how common space travel is in the future, not everybody will be able to get used to it. This is a very violent, action-packed story. I would have preferred the story to stand on its own rather than have a cliff-hanger ending, but that’s what you get for reading the first book in a series.