by Catherine Asaro
Cover Artist: David Mattingly
Review by Carolyn Frank
Baen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781416591603
Date: 05 May 2009 List Price $23.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Your basic fervently musical, highly charismatic, wildly poetical, black sheep, rock star remains true to form even when he is from a different planet but making his music on an Earth several centuries from now. Having been stranded on Earth when the remainder of his Skolian Empire ruling family abruptly departed, Del stumbles into his most treasured dream career as the composer and lead singer in a rock band. His first single hit tune, Diamond Star, strikes chords with the people of Earth, although he had written it about his twin sister.
Del is the third oldest of the Valdoria family, but after a shattering experience with mind-blowing drugs on his first major trip off his home planet of Lyshriol, he ended up spending nearly 45 years in cryogenic stasis. So although he was born 71 years prior, he looks and acts like the only-partially-mature twenty-something he mentally is. But he is the son and musically trained heir of a gifted bard, and although he dislikes the music of his home world, he loves music. Here on a future Earth, he finds the form and format of music that works for him, rock.
In this music-centric tale, Del turns his manager/military protector, Mac, into a replacement father figure, turns his keyboarder roommate, Jud, into his closest friend, and falls into a love affair with his music producer, Ricki. Despite his occasional lapses into immaturity which land him in situations from which others need to bail him out, Del grows into a deeper and stronger musician, which comes through in his songs. His songs are both listed as complete lyrics in the back of the book and are available on a CD performed by Point Valid, an alternative rock band from Baltimore.
Despite his family's abhorrence of the form of his new musical career and major misgivings about his safety on this foreign world, Del forges ahead. He takes his major drawback, being a supreme empath with limited ability to deal with people in groups of more than three or four, and manages to turn it around into a positive feedback for the audience and mind-blowing drug for himself. But the issue of his royal blood which he manages to hide is never far away. He is a pawn in the three-way political maneuverings in this universe: the Allied Worlds headed by Earth, his own Skolian Empire, and their sworn enemies, the Eubian Traders.
Even if you are not familiar with Catherine Asaro's prior books about the Skolian Empire that describe the lives of many of the other members of the Valdoria family, this story stands sufficiently on its own to be quite enjoyable. And if you like rock music, Point Valid does a rocking version of "his" songs.