cover image Ascendant Sun

Ascendant Sun

Catherine Asaro. Tor Books, $24.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86824-6

The follow-up to The Last Hawk, which was a Nebula nominee, picks up with Kelric, a cybernetically enhanced Jagernaut warrior and member of the Skolian Empire's ruling family, on his way home after 18 years on the Restricted world of matriarchal Coba. Kelric arrives only to learn that Earth's Allied Forces have assumed the job of local peacekeeper in space after the devastating Radiance War caused the Collapse, the destruction of the telepathic communication web through ""psiberspace"" that once linked the three vast empires of Skolian, Euben and Aristo space. With most of Kelric's family dead, he is now the only heir to a throne that may not exist much longer. Kelric isn't in great shape, though, with his Jagernaut cybernetics failing from damage incurred during his Coba getaway. Hoping to avoid detection by his enemies, he assumes a false identity and takes a job aboard a merchant spaceship--only to be taken prisoner by the Aristos, an advanced race that obtains its greatest pleasures from the pain and discomfort of its ""provider"" sex slaves. Even worse, the Aristos have captured Kelric's brother Eldrin in hopes of not only using his psibernetic abilities to restore and control interstellar communications, but also to open the Lock, a space-time portal that will give them incalculable power. Kelric must risk everything to foil the Aristo plot. While readers new to Asaro's world may be confused at times by how every element in the novel fits together, series veterans will find this to be yet another fast-paced and pleasing entry in the Saga of the Skolian Empire. (Feb.)