Rating: 5 stars out of 5 ★★★★★
Worst Possible Birthday: Being sold into slavery by none other than your lover.
Tover Duke’s rare ability to move anything instantly across light-years of space makes him a powerful, valuable asset to the Harmony Corporation, and a rock star among the people of the colonies. His life is luxurious. Safe. Routine.
He has his pick of casual hookups passing through Dadelus-Kaku Station. His one brush with danger of any kind—the only bright spot in his otherwise boring life—is Cruz Arcadio, a dark-haired, hard-bodied engineer whose physical prowess hints he’s something much more.
When a terrorist abducts Tover, hurling him into a world of torture, exploitation and betrayal, it’s with shattering disbelief that he realizes his kidnapper is none other than Cruz. As Tover struggles to find the courage to escape his bondage, he begins to understand the only way to free his body, his mind—and his heart—is to trust the one man who showed him that everything about his once-perfect life was a lie.
Warning: This story contains descriptions of extreme violence and assault. It also contains graphic sexual depictions. It also has a lot of birds. And pirate movies from the future. And romance.
I didn’t read the blurb all that carefully and thus went into this expecting something much lighter. Song of the Navigator is definitely not light. At times, it’s very dark and violent. The slavery here is real. Tover really does get tortured and there’s no redeeming the slavers. I was positively surprised, to be honest.
Cruz sells Tover into slavery. To me, that seemed like something you can’t possibly forgive anybody and thus a credible romance between Cruz and Tover seemed completely impossible to me. The author works with that expectation. Tover is furious with Cruz, hates him, even, and spends a lot of time thinking about how he’ll kill the man he once loved. I was right there with Tover, absolutely hating Cruz. There is no excuse for betraying anybody like this, even a casual hook-up. But Astrid Amara managed to convince me, and Tover, to slowly forgive and understand Cruz. It took time and there was a lot of hurt for a very long time, but it worked out eventually. That was incredibly well done. Somehow, I went from hating Cruz to really liking and understanding him.
Tover was instantly likeable and I found it very easy to relate to him throughout the many things he experiences. At first, he’s carefree, a bit superficial and also quite vain. He’s cocky and self-assured, which is to be expected. Improvisational navigators are revered. There’s even a bunch of people who think he’s a god. That’s the world he’s lived in since he was a little child. But then he gets kidnapped and sold into slavery. He’s tortured and treated like a tool. Suddenly his world comes crashing down and Tover changes. What follows is some really excellent character building.
The world the author created in this book was intriguing, with lots of creative ideas and enough world building to satisfy even me. The world building was cleverly woven into the plot, without any info dumping whatsoever.
The plot was addicting and full of surprising twists and turns. The end was unexpected and very satisfying. Overall I just absolutely loved Song of the Navigator. If you’re looking for some good sci-fi with real world building and don’t mind a bit (or a lot) of violence, then I’m sure you’ll love this. If you’re looking for a fluffy romance with a dash of sci-fi, however, keep looking. This is not the book for you.
Personally, I’ll definitely check out the author’s other works. Astrid Amara has some serious world building skills.
Cover: The cover by Kanaxa is great. The dark brownish red somehow really fits the tone of the story.