Amber Bierce had nothing left except her sister and two tickets on Earth’s first colony-ship. She entered her Sleeper with a five-year contract and the promise of a better life, but awakened in wreckage on an unknown world. For the survivors, there is no rescue, no way home and no hope until they are found by Meoraq—a holy warrior more deadly than any hungering beast on this hostile new world…but whose eyes show a different sort of hunger when he looks at her.
It was his last year of freedom:
Uyane Meoraq is a Sword of Sheul, God’s own instrument of judgment, victor of hundreds of trials, with a conqueror’s rights over all men. Or at least he was until his father’s death. Now, without divine intervention, he will be forced to assume stewardship over House Uyane and lose the life he has always known. At the legendary temple of Xi’Matezh, Meoraq hopes to find the deliverance he seeks, but the humans he encounters on his pilgrimage may prove too great a test even for him…especially the one called Amber, behind whose monstrous appearance burns a woman’s heart unlike any he has ever known.
Comment: I came across many reviews and conversations on line about this book. I was curious, I admit it, but I knew there would be less than appealing themes in it, so I've kept it away from my sight for quite some time until I read this review at Dear Author, which made me renew my curiosity and will to read it. I purchased it in the end of the year and it was my last read of January. I was really, really curious despite my fear of not liking some worst part it might have.
This is Amber's story. She is poor, her mother just died and her sister isn't much help. The wold set is based on the fact society evolved, as did scientific discoveries. Amber wants to run away from poverty so she agrees to fill a contract as a colonizer in a unknown planet and she takes her reluctant sister with her. However, the ship where they are on route to the other planet suffers an accident and crashes in a place which we find out has some resemblance to Earth.
But the survivors of the crash now have a huge problem and probably won' return home ever. But the planet isn't unpopulated, in fact, they are found out by a holy warrior who sees taking care of them as part of his personal pilgrimage. But after a while Amber and Meoraq, this warrior, start to become a sort of friends and even more...
I confess I wasn't expecting to be so overwhelmed and marveled by this book as I was. It took me five days to go through its more than 900 pages but apart from some issues, I was so entertained and captivated, time seemed to envelop me in a cocoon or something.
I think the world created here was quite interesting and we see it especially on the second part of the book (there are 8, all focused on some aspect or development of the story), where we meet Meoraq and see who he is, how the planet's culture was set and is depicted and how society works.
At this point we knew the humans' ship had crashed so, from the 3rd part on it was all about the story's development, whereas parts 1 and 2 were more like setting ups.
The story isn't easy to fallow all the time, not that it has conceptual or styled issues in the prose, but because it's long and I admit, some parts are extensive without being pertinent all the time. Probably with around close to 100 pages less, the book would have been better edited, I think. Still, everything we read has a meaning and a purpose and the atmosphere created is awesome and detailed and we can't help but reacting to what happens to everyone there.
I could say I loved it all, but no. As most people coming to this book probably know, there is rape and abuse and situations that are hard to read, to understand, to process. Sometimes, the bad parts, it wasn't as much about what happens, but how it happens. I won't share details because it would spoiler the story, but let me just say that I was glad when the bad parts were over.
These so called bad parts - my words - had a point yes, but of course I'd preferred to have them differently. This affected my perspective of the story, thus a lesser grade than the book probably deserves, considering the amount of time and effort put into it.
The best part was, obviously, the scenes between Amber and Meoraq. To our human eyes, both of them aren't what we'd call good looking or appealing people. Amber is described as fat and a bitch and Meoraq has scales and a snout.
But their connection starts as soon as they meet and the evolution from reluctant incomprehensible conversations and attempts of dialog soon become feelings. I liked, no, I loved! how they grew on each other, how they both started to respect the other, welcome the other's presence and looks, everything that put them together, that made them feel good with the other.
Throughout the book we keep seeing how their relationship develops, becomes better and stronger and how it stops mattering how they look to be more important what they mean to each other! Their relationship isn't repulsive, it's amazing and perfect! I really loved seeing them together, their amazing conversations, dealings, caring for each other... the romance was the best thing here!
I was really glad to have read this book. The end is also a surprise because we learn how some things became real in that world and what a surprise indeed. I think it was clever to build up such a world while providing such dramatic and challenging situations at the same time. The author has talent, for sure.
I think this is a great read, even my issues apart. While reading the story stayed with me even when I had to stop. Now, almost a week after starting it, I still think about them, about the amazing HEA we get and how their lives would have evolved, been...how cool is that? I even changed my GR grade because after so long I still think about this story...
Go read this book!!