cover image Acorna's Quest

Acorna's Quest

Anne McCaffrey. Eos, $23 (292pp) ISBN 978-0-06-105297-2

Introduced in McCaffrey and Ball's Acorna: The Unicorn Girl (1997), the eponymous unicorn-horned girl of mysterious origins was found in a jettisoned spaceship's escape pod by kindly asteroid miners, and raised to young adulthood in secret in order to keep unsavory space businessmen from exploiting her superior intelligence and psychic abilities. This second book in the series finds Acorna determined to escape the protective bubble her friends have built around her and to set off across space in search of her people. Her trip stalls early on, however, when trouble with her ship forces her and her space-pilot partner, Calum, to land on Rushima. There they find starving colonists, victims of a nefarious band of Starfarers who used stolen meteorological technology to wreck Rushima's weather when the colonists wouldn't submit to their extortion plot. Acorna and Calum are captured by these Starfarers, then rescued by rebel Starfarers and caught up in a small-scale civil war. Meanwhile, Acorna's people, the Linyaari, are seeking allies in their war against the evil, insectiod Khlevii--who just happen to be headed toward Rushima. Despite brief moments of mild humor, the novel struggles under the weight of stereotypical characters, a predictable plot and an excess of backstory. Only faithful McCaffrey (the Dragonriders of Pern series) fans are likely to enjoy this weak series entry. (July)