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Catherine Asaro
book cover

Skolian Empire Book 6
2000, December, Tor hardcover
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Who recommends: Linda, Margaret, Robin, JW, Barbara, Danielle
Who discommends:

I recommend this one. It did take me longer than usual to get into it but I think this had to do with trying so hard to figure out the connection between THE QUANTUM ROSE and her other Skolian books. At first I couldn't see the connection at all. I can definitely see where the story probably stopped in Analog. It also took me awhile to get used to Catherine Asaro's technical talk again. So this is one of those novels that improved steadily as I went along. I enjoyed the main characters' off-planet adventures in the second half of the book more since that felt more like her previous Skolian novel. Also, we got to continue more with the ongoing saga in the latter half of the book. The origin of Kamoj and her people was very interesting too.--Linda (08 Mar 01)

While collecting my copy of TAS from the library I came across Asaro's THE QUANTUM ROSE. It was definitely better than the earlier version I read but two things annoyed me. I couldn't understand how a star-travelling group who have dealt with other lost colonies could have mucked up the political situation so badly. It seems that all their knowledge of the world was a scientific analysis of the atmosphere and a basic dictionary. There was no understanding of the local customs and no indication that they thought an understanding necessary. The other problem was the hearing when Jax had Kamoj captive. Here we have experienced negotiators and it doesn't seriously occur to anyone, except Vyr, that Kamoj is being forced. They know he kidnapped her and that he won't let her leave his side but they still beleive that she is there willingly and is speaking honestly. Bah! I was also rather disturbed at the idea of a romance between a 69 year-old man and an 18 year-old girl. In spite of these complaints I enjoyed most of the book and would recommend it.--Margaret (19 Mar 01)

Another book by Asaro that I definitely recommend. You may recall that the first half or so of the book appeared in Analog, but I re-read it in the book and then carried on.

That first half is vaguely reminiscent of a regency romance. The characters are a young sheltered girl and a dissolute and perhaps frightful, but dashing, peer. He marries the girl without realizing it. But, since he has a kind heart, he tries to make amends only to realize he only knows how to deal with old relatives and lady birds.

This is the sort of culture clash that is well done to start our tale. Kamoj is the ruler of a small principality - the planet has a long cycle and winters are brutal and agriculture marginal. It has been understood for several years that she will marry a neighboring ruler, Jax, who BTW happens to be a bit too fond of his belt as a weapon.

Into this stumbles one of the Ruby Rhons, Havyrl, who is in custody as a pawn in the continuing Trader/Skolian war game. Vyrl was a happy farmer on his home planet. Then the web collapsed, Soz was killed (apparently), and Kelric was lost in battle (but has shown up again). Since we left our family after THE ASCENDANT SUN, Kelric and Vyrl's father has died. As a final request, he was taken to his home planet to be buried, and Vyrl and the family used the confusion as an attempt to smuggle Vyrl offworld to escape custody.

He traded one jailer for another and things have not turned out very well for this telepath. Vyrl uses liquor to dull his senses and make living tolerable. And then he stumbles across Kamoj, an empath with whom he can "resonate, making things brighter.

In the first part of the book we have the two beginning to understand each other, a process complicated by Jax, who kidnaps Kamoj and leaves Vyrl injured. In some ways, we have a tale of an alcoholic man (Vyrl) and a man in need of anger management classes (Jax) both needing the same calming influence in their life (Kamoj). Told against the political backdrop of the Skolian Universe, the story becomes much greater.

The second half of the book sees travel for Vyrl and Kamoj, a grand attempt at freeing a planet, and some scenes of great pathos and caring between the couple (made all the more interesting because of the change in their basic character as a result of their closeness.)

In the afterward, there's an interesting story about quantum mechanics and how particles interact, and how this is all laid out in the story plot of the book and the interaction of our three characters. Well, okay, it was interesting and a bit amazing that Catherine could actually weave a story based on quantum mechanics, but there's no need to read the afterward to appreciate the story ...There is lots of romance in the novel-length THE QUANTUM ROSE, and a bit more action. And we end up understanding Jax just a bit more, like we ended up learning a bit more about the Ariosta in THE ASCENDANT SUN.

My copy says that THE QUANTUM ROSE was published in December 2000. So isn't it about time for the pb edition? Pick it up and enjoy yourself.--Barbara (12 Jan 02)

THE QUANTUM ROSE is a decent book and fairly entertaining - I remember reading it quickly - but not one of Asaro's most memorable. The two halves of the book seemed disconnected (one half planetary romance, one half galactic politics); it was easy to see where the original novella had been expanded.

I find that I prefer Asaro's books that stand alone, or nearly so, like THE LAST HAWK. Her Skolian Empire stories make me feel like I need a program and/or a family tree in each book to keep track of all the players.--Danielle (10 Jun 03)

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