This excellent debut science fiction thriller, the first of a trilogy set in the far future, quickly plunges you into elaborate world-building with a complex, compelling set of three women all out for revenge. There’s Esek, from one of the ruling famiiles, who is talented, powerful, gorgeous but also completely vicious and cruel, if not psychopathic. The novel open with Esek visiting a training facility for teens, where she meets an incredibly talented noviate, named Six (only upon graduation can one choose one’s name and gender) who Esek prohibits from working for anyone but her, but will only take her on as a mentee is she does something extraordinarily dangerous to get Esek’s attention. Lastly there’s Chono, close friends with Six during training then a trainee cleric under Esek, who’s torn in loyalties between the two. Six dropped out of school before graduation, has disappeared, and Esek’s on a quest to find her for unknown reasons. Meanwhile pirates are violently attacking Esek’s family, and Six may be orchestrating things behind the scenes exacting her revenge.
The novel’s set among a grouping of planets, the Treble, known as the Kindom (a clever play on Kingdom). The Kindom is ruled by a religious order, but there’s power hungry, wealthy, and back-stabbing elite families in the mix and the conflicting worship of all sorts of specific gods based on individual planets.
The ruling power structure involves three counterbalancing branches of governance: with factional infighting within the branches and power grabs between all three. There’s the clerics who oversee religion, the secretaries who oversee the law, and the Cloaksaan who serve as both the military force and police. There’s also an oppressed sect of people, whose planet’s destruction has turned them into migrants and one step above slaves to the Kindom’s mining complex.
All this rachets up to unbelievable twists and unexpected plot reveals. Cannot wait for the next book in the series. So impressed at the finesse of this exciting debut!
Thanks to Orbit Books and NetGalley for an advanced reader’s copy.