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Rift in the Sky: Stratification #3 by Julie E. Czerneda
Review by Lucy Schmeidler
DAW Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780756405601
Date: 07 July 2009 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

For countless years the planet Cersi had been the home of three intelligent species, keeping a careful Balance: the powerful Tikitik and Oud, and the weaker Om'ray, living in scattered settlements at the mercy of their neighbors. However, the new power of teleportation developing among the Om'ray has triggered a disruption of the Balance, as related in the previous books of this trilogy, Reap the Wild Wind and Riders of the Storm. Now the more powerful of the Om'ray flee the disintegrating situation on Cersi for the wider world, of which they have only recently become aware, and are about to launch themselves on the universe as the Clan featured in Czerneda's earlier books of the Trade Pact Universe.

Both the Tikitik and the Oud are presented as convincingly alien, but with the details of each species left vague enough to give the reader's imagination room for play. The humanoid Om'ray are also portrayed as different from us, that difference being the mental connections between them, particularly between parent and child and between those Joined as a mated couple.

Aryl Sarc, the first of the Om'ray to discover how to teleport, is given the extra burden of being designated the official speaker of her Clan to the other species, which now seem to be going into conflict with each other, grabbing and transforming areas of land between the swampy terrain favored by the Tikitik and dry plains preferred by the Oud, without regard for the needs of the Om'ray Clans within their borders.

The Om'ray, or M'hiray, as those with the new ability now call themselves, become worried when teleportation, originally seen as a means of emergency escape, becomes a game for children, and a lazy mode of travel for adults. Even so, they only leave Cersi when it becomes clear that the end of the Balance on Cersi could mean the end of the Om'ray there as well.

This book ends rather abruptly, with the M'hiray hiding out in Human space, on a planet whose location they obtained from the mind of their one Human friend. The reader is thus invited to go enjoy the books of the Clan that take place later, if s/he hasn't already done so.

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