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Kate Elliott
book cover

The Sword of Heaven book 1

Who recommends: JW, Lori, Julie, Lynn, Suzanne
Who discommends: Edith

aka Alis A. Rasmussen

The three following books in the series are AN EARTHLY CROWN, HIS CONQUERING SWORD, and THE LAW OF BECOMING.

This is a discommend from me. I enjoyed the plot , but the author should have cut 200 pages from this 500 page book. It got *really* tedious in the middle and I ended up skimming huge chunks. Started the second book of the quadrilogy and just couldn't face another long-winded read. Although I did want to know what happens to the brother and what the aliens are up to and will the heroine stay with the hero and... and..

I *think* my perception of this book might be a bit skewed because I read it in 15 minute chunks. --Edith (18 Oct 00)

DAW reissued JARAN with a special introduction by the author to celebrate its 10th anniversary. I read it 10 years ago, and enjoyed it well enough to put it on my keeper shelf, but this is my first re-read.

Tess Soerensen has finished school on earth, and wants to escape both an unhappy love affair and the pressures she feels as sister and heir to the hero of Earth's rebellion against alien invaders, called the Chapalii. Though her brother's rebellion was crushed and the Chapalii have taken over Earth and other human-settled worlds, they did not punish Charles Soerensen, but instead made him a noble in their hierarchy and gave him his own worlds to govern. The Chapalii's reasons for doing so remain a mystery, but Charles is secretly planning another rebellion.

Tess's destination is an interdicted world without technology called Rhui, and she uses her rank to get passage on a Chapalii spaceship. She plans to sneak onto the shuttle that will secretly visit Rhui near its largest city, Jeds. Instead, the shuttle lands in a barren area and a contingent of Chapalii, dressed as Rhui natives, depart the ship and leave on horseback. Tess decides to follow to see what they are up to, but can't keep up and becomes lost in this uninhabited wilderness.

She is rescued by Ilya Bakhtian, a charismatic member of the nomadic Jaran tribe, who takes her to shelter with the tribe. Here she uses her talent for languages and her need for family to endear herself to the Jaran, and she becomes an adopted member of the tribe.

In the meantime, Ilya, with his warriors, has contracted to lead the Chapalii to various sites on Rhui in exchange for their genetically modified and superior horses. Ilya's dream is to unite the Jaran and conquer the non-Jaran peoples on Rhui. Tess, in order to keep an eye on the suspicious doings of the Chapalii, and in order to get to Jeds where she can find a way to make contact with her brother, must travel with the warriors, even though she has never been on a horse. Because of her rank, she is able to force the Chapalii party to agree, much to the dismay of Bakhtian. Tess begins the trip determined to battle the strong attraction she feels for Ilya.

This is a wonderful coming of age story. Between the intrigue and mystery surrounding the Chapalii, her growing love and respect for the Jaran, and her fascination with Ilya Bakhtian, Tess's road to maturity is definitely worth following.

Kate Elliott builds a believable world. Even better, her characters and dialogue seem real. I can hear some carping over the fact that Tess certainly becomes adept in her new culture awfully quickly, but this never bothers me when reading science fiction or fantasy, as it might in other genres. I particularly enjoyed the way the romance between Tess and Ilya progressed. Their attraction to each other is obvious, and each tries to deny it. Their conversations sparkle.

Even though this book begins a four-book series, there is a sense of closure at the end that was very welcome. There are still mysteries and questions that we know will be addressed in future books, but the reader can certainly finish Jaran with a sense of satisfaction, and never go on to the rest of the series.--Suzanne (1 Nov 02)

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