Monday, December 16, 2013

Rose Point (e-book) by M.C.A. Hogarth

Rose Point is a self-published science fiction novel. It's approximately 102,420 words long.


Yes, I'm still on a Hogarth glom. Rose Point is the second book in Hogarth's Her Instruments trilogy. Although it has its problems, I think it's even better than the first, and I will snatch up the third book when it comes out.

While visiting a horse-crazy colony on Kerayle, Hirianthial learns that he has a terrifying new power: he can kill people with his mind. He heads back to his homeworld for what help his people can give him, and Reese and the rest of the crew of the Earthrise accompany him, determined to support him in any way possible. However, the Eldritch homeworld has problems of its own. Liolesa, the Eldritch queen, has been scheming for centuries in an effort to keep her people's own xenophobia from killing them, and she had decided that the crew of the Earthrise will be perfect for her next move.

For much of the Kerayle portion of the book, Reese was, disappointingly, the same distrustful woman she was at the end of Earthrise. Her transformation into a more accepting character seemed very sudden and was so complete that even her own crew members were shocked. I'd have preferred it if the shift had been more gradual and had featured more attempts on Reese's part to recognize she was being an idiot and to talk to Hirianthial about what it was that was bothering her.

That said, I was glad for the shift in her behavior. Hirianthial was already damaged enough from the treatment he received while he was a captive on Kerayle. Had Reese further abused him, I might never have been able to forgive her. Her behavior was perfect. Instead of freaking out that his condition was probably making it impossible for him not to read her mind, she focused on making sure that the thoughts he received were happy ones. For the first time, she did good things for him without having to be told to do them. She was the one who asked the twins to talk to him, and she spearheaded the plans to keep him from leaving for his homeworld without them.

And can I just say this? I'm so very glad that, when Reese found Hirianthial naked and nearly in shock (one of his captors had been about to rape him), there was not one moment when she had to struggle with thoughts of how hot he was. I have read way too many books and stories in which some male character sees an unconscious and naked woman and notices her lovely face, beautiful breasts, or some other such nonsense (the best example I can think of right now: Allie Ritch's Mating Season). Reese's biggest concerns were getting him to safety and making sure she didn't hurt him any more than he'd already been hurt. Yay for not being creepy.

It was nice to revisit the Eldritch homeworld, after getting to see it once in Hogarth's Family. On the one hand, the Eldritch were these beautiful, courtly beings (with dialogue to match, so expect to see things like “prithee,” “for sooth,” and “verily”). On the other hand, all that beauty was a gloss over the truth: the Eldritch are dying out. The horses they depend upon are badly inbred, they have no medical technology to speak of, and many of the Houses are unable to feed their tenants. The Alliance and other colonies have everything necessary to save them, but first they have to overcome their own xenophobia.

It's not necessary to have read Family in order to understand the problems the Eldritch are facing – in fact, I think Rose Point did a better job of explaining what was going on and how the Eldritch had managed to survive so far. Reese and her crew knew even less about how the Eldritch lived than Vasiht'h did, but, working together, they figured out an awful lot in a short amount of time. Their theories, along with Liolesa's talks with Hirianthial, laid everything out pretty nicely and did a good job of communicating just how dire the situation was for the Eldritch.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of talking and not a lot of showing. I still don't entirely understand how commoner Eldritch live, and I'm still left with the feeling that the Eldritch are composed mostly of nobles and their servants. Even so, the stuff about Eldritch noble life was interesting. Reese had to learn a little about how to behave in order to be officially presented in court, and the rules about who could touch each other and how were fascinating. Plus, those details provided an opening for Moments between Reese and Hirianthial.

I got the feeling, in the previous book, that Hogarth was working towards romance between the two of them. I was not entirely on board with this. One, Hirianthial got along with just about every other Earthrise crew member better than he did with Reese. Two, Reese seemed determined to insult Hirianthial at every opportunity. She complained about the number of times he had to be saved (even during a scene in which she was being saved by him), and she accused him of reading her thoughts, on purpose, without her permission.

This was still the state of their relationship at the beginning of Rose Point. It changed, like flipping a light switch, to something lighter and more friendly, after Hirianthial's kidnapping. Hirianthial and this new Reese fit together much better, and I enjoyed the little signs that romance was developing between them (I loved the “Hirianthial is a single-dagger man” scene and the part where Hirianthial meets Reese after she's been dressed for court). However, this brings me back to my wish that Reese's...growth? maturation? mellowing?...had happened more gradually. I kept expecting the old Reese to reappear and flinch away from Hirianthial on the assumption that he was reading her private thoughts.

Reese's thoughts and behavior didn't always seem consistent, and I groaned when she made a few incredibly reckless promises near the end. As much as she likes the Eldritch homeworld, she knows absolutely nothing about horses. Also, for all she knew, Kerayle had been overrun by pirates and all its horses had been killed. It didn't very smart for her to be promising to breed horses for the Eldritch. Unless one assumes she's going to end up with Hirianthial, who has hundreds of years of horse-breeding experience...

You know, I feel like every time I review something that I enjoyed but still had problems with, I end up sounding like I hated it. I'm not sure how to fix that without still noting the things that didn't work for me quite as well, so I'm just going to say this: I did enjoy this, and I think it's probably one of the best books by Hogarth I've read so far (although I'm still more of a Jahir/Vasiht'h fangirl!). I'm crossing my fingers that the conclusion to the trilogy will be satisfying.

  • Elfquest (graphic novel series) by Wendy and Richard Pini - You can read the series here for free. If you choose to buy print volumes, I highly recommend shelling out for full-color editions - I've seen the black-and-white releases, and the original color versions are way better. I think this may have been the very first non-superhero comic book series I ever read. I was entranced. Gorgeous elves with psychic powers, who bonded with wolves - my teenage self was thrilled. The Eldritch reminded me a little of the proud and stagnating group of elves that Cutter and his people come across later in the series.
  • Cordelia's Honor (book) by Lois McMaster Bujold - I haven't read this omnibus yet, although I've read several of Bujold's other Vorkosigan Saga books. I think Bujold would work for Hogarth fans in general, because she peoples her science fiction with wonderful, well-drawn characters. For those interested in reading the series chronologically, I think this might be the beginning.
  • The Sixth Discipline (e-book) by Carmen Webster Buxton - If you'd like to try another self-published science fiction author, you may want to download this (it's free!). It features a couple different sci-fi human cultures, political maneuvering, and even a bit of romance. Although Ran-Del's people aren't courtly Eldritch, they do have telepathic and empathic abilities. If you'd like to learn more, I've written about this book.

No comments:

Post a Comment