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The Ruby Dice by Catherine Asaro
Cover Artist: Alan Pollack
Review by Carolyn Frank
Baen Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781416591580
Date: 31 March 2009 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Article /

Kelric, the Skolian Imperator, has a secret past – he spent 18 years on a restricted planet, Coba. Coba's culture is grounded on the game of Quis, played with a set of variously colored dice. Having fought his way back from imprisonment to take the role of military commander in chief of the Skolian empire, he brought back a single token from Coba, a gift from his wife there, a pouch containing a set of Ruby Dice.

From official release/information:

Product Description: Two men, two empires. Jaibriol ruled the Eubian Concord: over two trillion people across more than a thousand worlds and habitats. Kelric ruled the Skolian Imperialate.  War had come before—and it might come again, devastating vast swathes of the galaxy. Neither Jaibriol nor Kelric wanted war, but neither was complete master of his realm. And each hid a secret that, if revealed, might be his downfall. Jaibriol was a secret psion, with telepathic abilities, and to be a psion in the Eubian Concord was to be a contemptible slave, eventually to be tortured for the pleasure of the slave's owner. Kelric, years ago, had disappeared for nearly two decades. He had been a prisoner and slave on the planet Coban, part of neither empire, until he had managed to escape. And if the Skolian Imperialate knew of his captivity, there would be demands for vengeance, ravaging Coban—and killing the wife and children Kelric had left behind when he escaped.

Neither man knew how much longer he could keep his secret—nor how much longer they could hold back the threat of a war that could incinerate hundreds of inhabited worlds.

(Source: Baen)

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