Desert Isle Keeper
The Quantum Rose
Catherine Asaro’s science fiction novels have all had romantic threads and larger than life heroes but her newest novel, which is being serialized in the May, June, July/August 1999 issues of Analog magazine, has its roots firmly imbedded in the romance genre.
Kamoj Quanta Argali is governor of the impoverished Argali, a Province on the planet Balumil. In order to attain the resources necessary for the survival of her land and people she has agreed to marry one of her neighboring governors, a cruel man called Jax Ironbridge. The marriage was arranged years before, and although she dreads it, she has accepted it as an immutable fact of life.
When Havryl Lionstar spots Kamoj swimming, her plans are forever changed. He’s taken by her beauty and feels an instant emotional connection. He does not realize she is betrothed to another and offers up a dowry that even Jax cannot beat. In a whirlwind series of events, Kamoj finds herself married to a complete stranger, a man who frightens her more than Jax – whose explosive temper and fists she knows all too well. She knows virtually nothing about her new husband except the frightening rumors she’s heard whispered among her people. If the gossip is to be believed, she has married a man with no face who arrived on their world in a flying metal bird with evil plans to take over the entire province.
All of this could not be further from the truth, of course. Vyrl does come from another world but he is kind, sweet and gorgeous and to Kamoj’s disbelief he appears to want nothing more from her than her love. Kamoj’s initial fear begins to fade as she comes to know her new husband. She soon finds herself experiencing an unexpected emotion – love.
A peaceful life does not come easy for the couple. Vyrl is a classic tortured hero. His past is darkened by heartache and pain and, miraculously, he’s retained his sanity along with his tenderness. He is not perfection personified and has a serious drinking problem. Rum is his only cure for his anguish – until he meets Kamoj. She is the first person capable of making him want to stop drinking. Unfortunately, before he can begin to heal, a terrible series of events will occur that tests their love and nearly breaks Kamoj.
This is an extremely brief outline of the story because I fear giving away too much information. This story is part of her Skolian Empire where all of her previous novels have taken place. It is not necessary to have read the other books to enjoy this love story but it will help you understand the background of the slavery and Trader society and the genetics that make the characters behave the way they do. My only complaint with Asaro’s other novels was her tendency to overwhelm me with huge sections of technobabble that my mind just could not comprehend. The Quantum Rose has virtually no mind numbing sections and almost reads like a fantasy. Although this is a serialized novel, her world is beautifully detailed. It blows away the majority of so-called futuristic romances that plunk you down on a planet that may as well be earth with a few ridiculously named plants and animals.
Asaro takes great care with the creation of her characters. You will find no cardboard cutouts here. Yes, her heroes are super hunks and her heroines are beautiful, but they have personality, flaws and incredible depth. They are people you come to care deeply for. She also injects her dialogue with humor and affection.
I unabashedly loved this story and barely took a breath while reading it. If you are a fan of excellently crafted plots, and can stomach a few dark moments to experience a touching love story you must read this one. If you fail to grab these three issues of Analog before they are snapped up, all is not lost. Tor plans to release The Quantum Rose and its sequel in a hardcover book sometime in the year 2000. However you choose to read it, just read it!
Catherine Asaro’s other Skolian Empire novels are Primary Inversion, Catch The Lightning, The Last Hawk and The Radiant Seas.