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Kronos Deucarrion is dead. The Director of the League of One, Supreme Commander of the Alliance of Stars, Supreme Pontiff of the Galactic Sanctuary (and a few other titles) lies dead in a pool of blood, his throat sliced from ear to ear. His ward and mistress, General Kelahya Devona, herself, one of the most powerful people in the galaxy, runs from the Alliance. In her mind, she sees Kronos lying dead at her feet, his eyes fixed on her. Her mind screams at her, “Murderer!”
So begins Ascension-Kelahya Unbound, a space opera in the grand style of the ’30s and ’40s where one skilled enough can rule the galaxy, fleets of space ships roam the universe, whole planets can be destroyed in an instant on a whim, and palace intrigue runs deep. This novel gives the familiar trope a fresh look by embedding a murder mystery at its heart and using it to delve deeply into its central character’s mind. Kelahya must ask herself whether she did, in fact, commit the murder of the most powerful man in the universe or whether her mind is playing tricks on her.
In the era of this novel, minds are critical to the life of the empire. Evolution has developed to the point where a few people can read the minds of various species on many planets. Kronos, the supreme commander, has this ability, and so does Kelahya, the daughter of a key Kronos ally who was murdered when she was a child. Her mother and father’s death, places Kelahya in the hands of Kronos, who sees in her the potential to join him at the top of the planetary pyramid.
From the time she is a child until she becomes a full-grown woman, she is trained to be a Minder, the highest class of the mind’s abilities, master of military maneuvers and leadership techniques, and to be the consort of Kronos. Even as he seats her next to him at the empire’s most important occasions, he keeps her somewhat at arm’s distance until she is an adult. The sexual tension between the two takes its time to develop.
But all is not what it seems. There are deep secrets held by virtually every major character that is slowly and most carefully unlocked. The credibility of everyone and every deeply held belief is called into question. Past and present collide in the life of Kelahya as she finds herself on the run from a murder she may or may not have committed and finds herself captured by the empire’s most insidious enemies.
The level of detail in the novel is remarkable, very much in the spirit of Isaac Asimov’s famed Foundation trilogy, even to the invention of an extraordinary chronicle that precedes every chapter and acts as a Greek chorus to introduce the empire’s history, culture, and mores. In other words, a space opera that sci-fi fans will devour. Readers will undoubtedly fall for Kelahya, and her struggle to find out the truth of what happened to her: some of which may change her life. It’s science fiction with heart, and one we highly recommend!