Publisher: Fiona Rawsontile (2013)
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Courage, love, and loyalty are counterpoised with intrigue, hatred, and betrayal—in settings ranging from intimate dinners to royal banquets, seaside walks to interplanetary voyages and galactic space battles in this highly entertaining and fast moving debut novel by Fiona Rawonstile: The Starlight Fortress.

After reluctantly turning the last page of this mesmerizing and unpredictable tale of love, life, and war, I looked out my window to see the solid shape of a bright quarter moon and the twinkle of the “Evening Star” that is Venus against a deep azure sky. I wished I could see further into the galaxy and find the Renaisun solar systems, with their widely differing planets, countries, and cities—but of course they don’t exist (yet?) except in the pages of The Starlight Fortress.

Spectacular battles in the Stony Band of asteroids, the interstellar pathways, and even on-the- ground maneuvers provide plenty of fast-paced military action, conducted with imaginative space-age techniques, weapons, and ships of all shapes and sizes—the most spectacular being the RA allied forces’ enormous five-armed Starlight Fortress, coveted by Emperor Pompey. Artfully interwoven with the military battles are the interpersonal relations among the royals, the military officers, and ordinary citizens.

Despite their future sci-fi existence in the universe, Rawsontile’s characters and their language, lifestyles (with a few tweaks), hopes, and desires—as well as their darker natures of envy, jealousy, hate, prejudice, and war—will resonate with readers. The young Queen Geneva of Sunphere, the primary country on the RA-4 planet of the Renaisun A system, is unlike any queen, past or present, on Earth. Elevated to her post after the untimely death of her father, she would rather go shopping on one of the moon malls with her friends than rule the country, but duty calls and the stakes are high.

Geneva may be queen, but her elders question her judgment when she selects as her military assistant not an experienced officer, but Commander Sterling Presley, on the basis of a speech he delivered at his graduation from Sunphere’s Space Force Academy just four years earlier.  However, they are betting that age isn’t everything when it comes to creating new battle strategies.

Sometimes singly, and sometimes together, Geneva, with her chubby cheeks, and Sterling, resembling a junior college professor, face some hard work if they are to earn the respect of Sunphere’s citizens and Space Force—not to mention that of their allies of Renaisun A, as well as their enemy Emperor Pompey with his colonial forces of Renaisun B.

Joining Geneva and Sterling is a full cast of colorful, multifaceted characters—Sir Lloyd, Geneva’s uncle and Secretary of Defense; the handsome, aristocratic, young officer Charlie Swinburne of Rainprus; Prince Edwards of the neutral Renaisun C, who could be a good ally; military diamond-in-the-rough; and more, all artfully crafted by Rawsontile.

Dangerous, sticky, and amorous situations intensify as hostilities mount and battle fleets are amassed. Be sure to strap in, hang on tightly, and enjoy Rawsontile’s exhilarating ride into the future. This reviewer really didn’t want the story to end. Please, Fiona, give us a sequel to The Starlight Fortress!