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Crescent Blues Book ViewsImage:three and a half moon gifTor Books (Hardcover), ISBN 0-31-289062-1
I hate it when I get behind in my reading list. Not because of guilt -- the piles of books glaring at me from every corner of my tiny apartment don't bother me that much, although my darling spouse may feel otherwise. I hate it because I don't get to the good books soon enough.

Book: Catherine Asaro, The Quantum Rose OK, I admit it, I'm an Asaro fan. But watching how Asaro builds the relationship between Kamoj Quanta Argali, the beautiful provincial governor of Argali, and Havryl Lionstag, the strange yet handsome renter at the Quartz Palace, again reminded me of just how good Asaro can be. An offworlder, Havryl misunderstands local customs and, after accidentally spying Kamoj bathing naked in a local pond, falls in love with her. Seeking Kamoj's hand in marriage, Havryl sends an incomparable dowry to her estate.

Unfortunately, due to the merchant-like politics of her people (a race bred long ago to be genetically perfect slaves), the dowry qualifies as an offer Kamoj cannot refuse. As a result, she must reject a twenty year-long proposed "merger" with the cruel and devious Jax Ironbridge.

Once married, Kamoj finds herself falling quickly in love with Havryl, in spite of his addiction to alcohol and the awkwardness that her culture's marriage bonds place on her. Yet her happiness remains short-lived. Jax, unused to being spurned and full of resentment, kidnaps Kamoj, raping and blackmailing her to reject the marriage. Jax reinforces Kamoj's fears with sly threats against the people she cares for.

Book: Catherine Asaro, Ascendant SunAs Havryl tries to rescue Kamoj, we learn that Havryl is really Prince Havryl Torcelli Valdor kya Skolia, sixth heir to the Ruby Throne, (etc., etc.) and that he plays for much bigger stakes than the survival of Kamoj's people.

Kamoi struggles with the knowledge that she must choose between her people or the fate of her lover's race. Should she leave the planet and return to Havryl's home world, or stay on her own? Can she even bear being apart from Hayrl for that long? These struggles, and the struggles to release Havryl's world from a prison more restraining and dangerous than any dungeon come to a wild, hearty climax well worth the cover price.

Stephen Smith

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