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REVIEW: The Last Warrior by Susan Grant

REVIEW: The Last Warrior by Susan Grant

“As a decorated soldier, the young General Tao knows only one kind of honor—to his people. But when his own king betrays him, he discovers that his sacrifices, his successes, may not have been for the good of the country at all.

Fate—and his enemies—throw him together with Elsabeth, a red-haired beauty who has served as the royal tutor. Her loyalties, though, remain with her father’s people, the rebellious Kurel, who worship the old ways, even harboring the forbidden arks that brought the Kurel to this planet ages ago. When a threat greater than their peoples’ war looms, intent on destroying the world they both know, the fierce warrior and the sensitive scholar must unite. Together, they must fight for their planet, for their world and for their love.”

Dear Ms. Grant,

I sat, trying to write up a blurb for this one and stymied by all the world building so I copped out. I’m not sure if this is tied into or will eventually be tied into any of your other SF series but from the questions left open I would assume that it’s the start of a new series. Or maybe I missed the first one. Anyway, I don’t read SF all the time and perhaps would have a different opinion if I did but the world building was actually my favorite part of the book.

The Last Warrior by Susan GrantI enjoyed how it all starts to slowly shift then snap into sharp focus once the titles of the books Beth is carrying into the palace for the royal children is revealed. Well, that plus the name/title/deity Uhrth. Now I’m wondering about this Colony and why it had that number of colonists (3032) and how they got there. Seems like any group who would willingly head out into deep space exploration to settle a new world would believe in technology and science and medicine and not revert back to Luddites. But I guess after the Gorr arrive – and aren’t they awful? – and the “arks” are destroyed – deliberately? – so that the Gorr wouldn’t get back to Uhrth, some of the Colonists might have reasoned that if they didn’t turn their backs on all advanced knowledge, somehow the arks would be rebuilt or info about Uhrth would leak to the Gorr. With the rumored hidden arks in the Barrier Peaks, maybe this lost colony will eventually come home.

The Riders are interesting too. Kind of Plains Indians style people but ones who – from the background you’ve sprinkled in the story – are a mix of techno loving Kurel and back-to-basics Tassagon in their beliefs. And, just curious, where do those two names originate? I am trying to place them within the context of Earth but maybe they’re not. The Gorr are fascinatingly grotesque enemies and it seems from the info about the alphas’ speech trait now being passed on that more will be heard from about them as well as the sea raiders.

For people from two groups who have distrusted each other for -seemingly – generations, Tao and Beth quickly overcome their inherent, raised-from-the-cradle to believe, misunderstandings about each other. I guess for Tao that seeing, or rather experiencing, is believing as far as medicine goes. Still they reach detente rapidly. There’s a lot of info to be conveyed as well as setting up the conflict, romance and resolution of it all in a short word count so to keep it from turning into a tome, sacrifices are needed. Okay on second thought, Tao has fought the enemies of humans and sees them more as “in it together” or at least that they better not fight or the Gorr would overwhelm them. Meanwhile Beth has read the ancient Log of Uhrth and also knows that they can’t afford to take sides against each other or they’ll be lost to Uhrth forever.

You do come up with a plausible excuse for Tao to have to listen to Beth and try and fit into her Kurel world – namely that the Kurel elders might banish him and her if he doesn’t. Also the trade of information about the outside world for closer physical contact is inventive. Boo-yah that Beth loves to read books! Tao’s sister Aza and her husband King Xim show the Tassagon view of marriage as a business contract much like historical marriages here. Xim isn’t an uber strong villain but sometimes they’re the worst – those who allow themselves to be lead or who are manipulated by others.

Some aspects of the plot are more familiar to me – groups separated by distrust must somehow overcome their inherent differences and gather together or all is lost. Common cause must be found, misunderstandings dealt with and the disparate elements must unite! Tao leads the Kurel in a rag tag band together with appropriate Leader’s Inspiring Speech against the tracking Gorr. He, and the situation, rouse them from pacifist ways thereby leading to getting back together with the Tassagons. All this part of the plot seems more standard fantasy, SF, and historical stuff. It’s the world building that you’ve come up with that kept me interested and will bring me back to read the next book in the series – assuming that there is one.


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REVIEW: Sureblood by Susan Grant

REVIEW: Sureblood by Susan Grant

Dear Ms. Grant,

I admit, with a certain amount of chagrin, that there was a time when I would gobble up any romance or story with romantic elements that was set in space. I think I once told someone “A hero farts in space? I’m there and A+!” and I meant every word.

But that was a long, long time ago…

Sureblood by Susan GrantAnd from then to now, there has been an explosion in space-themed romance (thank you authors, and hallelujah) so I no longer feel the desparate need to read every outer space/other space/other planet romance that hits the shelves. I did read both The Star King and The Star Prince and remember liking them. However, with TSP, I also recall being frustrated by a scene where the H/H had 30 seconds to live and managed to have the boink of a lifetime in an escape pod during that time. Not that I think a quickie is a bad thing…but for some reason, I think that was their first actual boot knockin’ session. Which brings me to Sureblood: the key term here is frustration.

As the daughter of the head of one of the strongest pirate clans in the Channels, Val Blue is determined to prove her worth when she takes a command position during a raid on a mining vessel. But the pirates aren’t only looting for cargo; they’re trying to keep other pirate clans from getting the goods first, which means that the Blues must beat the Surebloods to the punch when they raid the ship. The raid goes wrong and the Blue raiding party is forced to work with the Surebloods to make sure they all get out alive and escape with the booty. Val is drawn to Dake Sureblood, the leader of the Sureblood clan, like a robot to a black hole.

The Surebloods travel to the Blue’s planet to try to make peace and Val and Dake get it on during the festivities, even after numerous obstacles are thrown in their path. However, there is so much mistrust and resentment going on between all of the clans that you know this party isn’t going to have a happy ending. Before the last orgasmic shudder fades, all hell breaks loose and Dake is accused of killing Val’s father and Val is forced to assume a precarious leadership position. Dake leaves the planet to investigate a suspicious accident involving Val’s brother and Dake (this is not a spoiler; it’s on the back cover) is abducted by the Drakken, an imperialistic group of slave drivers conscripting soldiers for their cause.

While all this sounds very exciting, the pacing of the book is unbelievably slow, the villains (along with their motives and their next moves) are totally transparent, the heroine has a massive lack of growth and the hero spends at least 1/3 of the book in miserable captivity. I was ready to toss in the towel. At the point where Dake is abducted, I almost fainted when I realized that I had more than 200 pages left to read.

As a hero, Dake is actually great. He puts his clan before everything else and truly believes he can not just initiate change, but begin a new and prosperous era for the pirate clans by uniting them. He realizes that everyone isn’t just going to capitulate to his charisma, and I think one of the issues I have with him as a “leader” is that he doesn’t seem to realize that the odds of any of this working ar really against him due to the ingrained distrust between the clans, and doesn’t seek to find a way to prove himself or his clan. On the positive side, his feelings for Val never waver (sure, you say, she wasn’t the one that was kidnapped…but we’ll get there in a moment) even after having his life shredded by the Drakken.

Val made me want to throw up. Like Dake, she has blinders on too, but her tunnel vision is so limited to raiding that her mother could have killed her father and she wouldn’t notice that things might be slightly awry. She blindly trusts people, allows questionable clan members into positions of power and never investigates things. When Dake disappears, she automatically assumes that he left her high and dry…but NONE of the Surebloods show up after that, and Val and the Blues take rumor as fact that they’re still fighting for the same turf. For someone who is supposed to be a clan pirate captain, Val’s massive self doubts and total lack of leadership outside of a combat capacity should have crippled her and quickly forced her out of the position. I’m actually shocked that she didn’t turn into the warrior I expected, but rather a wimpy shadow of what she was. Perhaps that was the one surprise in the book. D

~ Shuzluva

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