Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
This is the fourth book in the Claimings series with an overarching plot, so these should be read in order. There are also alien words used without context, which you would need to be aware of beforehand. This is the continuation of Liam and Ondry’s journey aboard the Rownt ship Calti, to seek trade with the Imshee.
One of the things I like about this series, like all good science fiction, is viewing the absurdities of humanity, when trying to explain them to an alien race. I always enjoy the discussions of linguistics and psychology. The fact that this happens after a rousing bout of alien sex, made me laugh. Quite a lot of this book made me laugh and appeals to my dry sense of humor, although be warned the depictions of sex and biological functions are a bit graphic and crude. Anyway, if you have been following this series and like those linguistics discussions, those are increased in this book due to Zach and Liam both being in the linguist field, them both learning from each other aboard ship, and meeting a new alien species.
In the last book, Zach came aboard as a palteia to a Grandmother who is now his chilta. The nearest translation in English to palteia seems to be submissive (although these relationships are not sexual in Rownt culture.) A chilta would have the “dom” role of protecting and helping a palteia, who are a highly regarded in Rownt culture. This opportunity gives the Rownt a way to learn about humanity without all of that burden remaining on Liam. It’s also intriguing to see a higher ranked human than Liam, but someone with less experience with the Rownt, navigate the complexities of the society, culture, and language. The change in dynamics is a way to show us Liam’s place in the world, in both cultures.
The author shows Liam and Ondry established in their relationship of mutual trust and love. Liam’s confidence has grown and as Liam has become more Rownt in his thinking, Ondry has also become more human in his. Ondry has also gotten even more overprotective the more he reads human medical texts. If fact, the whole reason for this book is fear of human physiology and aging–Ondry wanting Liam’s lifespan to be more compatible with his and for Liam to be less breakable. I love how Liam asserts himself to be an equal partner in decisions that affect their lives and status in a way he never would have earlier in the series. But while Liam seems more confident, in some ways Ondry seems less so.
There is a bit of repetition in Ondry’s thoughts and on the obsession with palteia throughout the book, but that is a minor niggle. Overall, this is a good contribution to the series, although not my favorite. The Cy, a race that traded with the Rownt thousands of years ago, are mentioned as how they learned folded space technology. I do hope this goes somewhere in a story, whether set in the past or the present. Of course, the Imshee contact with humans is a frightening prospect. I understand why Liam would want what the Imshee offer as he will live out the rest of his life with Ondry; I am unsure of why Zach would consent when he has a five year contract, especially since if he were to go back to Earth, I would expect the military to experiment on him. I would be happy for the author to pick any of these plot bunnies that she seeded in this story.
The cover artist is Anna Sikorska. It’s in keeping with the series in style and color palette and I think represents the story well.
Expected publication: October 23rd 2018
Edition Language English
Series Claimings #4