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S.L. Viehl
book cover

Book 6 of Stardoc
2003, August, Roc
Buy from Amazon.com (hardcover)

Who recommends: Shelley, Preeti, Linda
Who discommends:

I finished S.L. Viehl's BLADE DANCER earlier this week and really enjoyed it. It has a couple of things that make it appealing to SFR readers. First, there is a romance. It does not take up a lot of the action, but is definitely integral to the plot. Second, this is a very relationship driven novel on all levels, as well as fast-moving sci/fi adventure.

BLADE DANCER is about Jory Rask, a famous athlete on earth, who is deported when the authorities discover that she is half human and half Jorenian. She has a mission of sorts, from her mother, and travels to Joren to find the other half-breed children -- the group her mother calls the children of honor. The first part of the adventure is just getting to Joren. Then she ends up with the job of gathering together some very different individuals, telling them some home truths and letting them join her in the second part of her mission.

The book revolves around both the action scenes, which take place in a very rugged "training" environment, and around the relationships Jory develops with the six other children of honor. For me this was a definite recommend.

P.S.--While the story takes place in the same universe as the Stardoc novels and at roughly the same time, it is not a tie-in; this book was written to be a stand-alone novel.--Shelley (14 Aug 03)

Like Shelley, I thought BLADE DANCER was pretty good. I didn't expect much from the book, perhaps because of the cover. (Is it meant to draw in more male readers?) The story inside was immediately engaging, though. A one-sitting read. S.L. Viehl, as usual, keeps you on your toes by peppering the story with surprise revelations. "You think you know? You don't know."

Jory is a professional athlete summarily exiled from xenophobic Terra when she's discovered to be only half-human. She and her sh*t-eating attitude hit outer space. Her immediate goal is to track down the other half-breeds--like her--born to a group of Jorenian women who'd been kidnapped and sold as slaves a couple of dozen years ago.

She finds all of them still living on the planet Joren, but only one is half-human/half-Jorenian like her. (And how neat, he's a gorgeous male! But...do they share the same father? Oh, the delicious angst.) The rest are almost like a group of comic book superheroes--one is winged, one is a crystalline telepath/telekinetic, one gives off electrical shocks, etc. These so-called Children of Honor have had enough of being second-class citizens on Joren. They throw their lot in with Jory in order to avenge their mothers and improve their social status. She takes the disparate bunch to a world where they enter blade dancer--i.e. deadly assassin--training.

Most of the book is then in the tradition of boarding school stories (bullies, rivalries, schemes, tournaments, etc.) Jory is the key to her adopted siblings overcoming past wounds and growing closer together as a family. Well, except for Kol. There's more than brotherly love developing in that direction.

The plot perhaps couldn't bear too much scrutiny, and things are resolved perhaps too tidily, but the story was fun and sufficiently emotionally satisfying to recommend.

P.S.-Apropos of nothing, I kept thinking of the C.L. Moore book title JIREL OF JORY as I read about Jory of Joren. --Preeti (25 Aug 03)

I recommend this book also. Lots of aliens, a tough heroine, a good plot, and action!! I actually liked BLADE DANCER better than Viehl's last Stardoc book. One reason for this was that I liked the romance better, another reason was the prominence of the Jorenians in this book.--Linda (3 Nov 03)

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