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Ascendant Sun (The Saga of the Skolian Empire) by Catherine Asaro
Review by Mel Jacob
Tor Books Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780812566659
Date: 15 February 2001 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Readers might be forgiven if they assume from the cover of Catherine Asaro's Ascendant Sun that inside lies a hot romance. The blond Fabio figure must send female hearts pounding. While the novel is hot in spots with sex orgies, it is a classic romance: the tale of a hero facing overwhelming odds to survive and free his disintegrating empire. Kelric, the hero, encounters a number of interesting females, but he never forsakes his goals.

Ascendant Sun follows Kelric as he escapes servitude on Coba to become a common laborer on a fringe planet, Edgewhirl. He finds that during his eighteen-year absence, everything has changed. The Allied Worlds hold his parents in protective custody on Earth and his brothers and sisters are dead. According to the local medical officer he is dying and needs the services of ISC technicians. Part of the military of the Skolian Empire, they are still well protected and far from his present location.

The Allied Worlds now run Edgewhirl. Kelric, in an effort to amass funds to seek the assistance he needs, takes service on a cargo ship bound for Trader space. Aristos, cruel antiempaths, are the Traders and control the Eubian Empire. They gain pleasure by creating pain in those with empathic or telepathic abilities. Kelric with his high empathic abilities would be a prize even without his links to the Ruby Dynasty and the rulers of the Skolian Empire.

The war with Eubia destroyed all major interstellar communications system. They have control of a Lock, a key in that network, and hope to activate it, but need a member of the Ruby Dynasty to do so. Skolian control of the network had enabled them to keep the Eubians in check. Kelric knows how to deactivate the Lock and prevent its use, but he is now a slave to the Eubian Minster of Finance.

Winner in 2002 of the best Nebula novel for Quantum Rose, Asaro has some 22 novels and assorted short stories. A physicist, ballet teacher, and CEO of her own company, she brings her assorted talents to her writing. The Skolian Empire series now numbers ten novels, the most recent of which, The Ruby Dice, features Kelric and the Eubian Emperor as they struggle to bring peace between their empires.

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