The Star Prince
Susan Grant’s latest novel The Star Prince, sequel to last year’s The Star King, places likable and sympathetic characters in interesting intergalactic societies, with intriguing political plots. Despite a too-easy ending, this book kept me turning pages throughout.
Tee’ah Dar is a daughter of one of the founding Vash Nadah families, and as such, is nobility in a universe that has only just discovered earth. Because of ancient and outdated customs, Vash Nadah women are kept cloistered and hidden away, both before and after their arranged marriages. But Tee’ah has other plans. When her parents catch her learning to pilot aircraft, and forbid her to ever do so again, she follows her love of flying – straight toward foreign worlds and freedom, and straight away from the life her family has planned for her.
Ian Hamilton is the son of the reigning queen of the Vash Nadah, and step-son to its king. Because of King Rom’s sterility – as well as his plans for the future – he has named Earth-born Ian as his successor. Since many of the Vash Nadah oppose this decision, Ian’s life is in danger. As he embarks on a mission to keep earth in the Federation of planets, he travels as Ian Stone, starship captain. When his third pilot in a row drinks himself to death, Ian finds himself and his crew stranded and desperate, on a frontier planet in the middle of nowhere. Desperate enough to take on a young pilot named Tee, who has plenty of secrets of her own.
Tee and Ian are strong, likable characters, and their romance was enjoyable, although I think that the relationship between secondary characters Gann and Lara may have been more interesting. In fact, the secondary characters in general were all intriguing, and of the sort that the reader will look forward to seeing in later novels, as it is pretty obvious that there will be more to this series. And I would be remiss not to mention that one of those characters is AAR’s own Linda Hurst, who makes an appearance, and delivers a deliciously cheesy line toward the end of the book.
The politics of the plot kept it moving along swiftly, although certain things never became clear. Why didn’t Tee’ah and Ian recognize each other on sight, given that they are cousins by marriage and that Ian’s family all knew her well enough? Also, it was apparent that a match between the two of them would not be smiled upon, yet it was never made clear why, which led to part of the “too-easy” ending I mentioned. The other part of that problem centered on unlikely, sudden changes in political attitudes. Then there’s that niggle all too often seen in SF in general; everyone on every world is apparently human, with only differences in coloring to set them apart. While this is convenient, it’s not all that likely.
While this may seem like a considerable number of problems, they tend to get lost in the grand scheme of things because The Star Prince has so many strong points. It has a fun and exotically romantic flow, and if it’s a little fluffy on the SF aspect at times, the proliferation of strong female characters around whom future books might center balances things nicely. The author treats the hero’s political opponents with dignity and there’s no completely evil villain, which is also a nice change. Yes, the opinion of the masses was treated a little too lightly toward the end, but the political aspects of the plot were handled well and kept my interest throughout.
All in all, I recommend this book to anyone looking for books about strong female characters who find both independence and love among the stars. Susan Grant is one LoveSpell author to continue to watch.