A member of a political an intellectual elite, she has already spent time on this planet (whose people are human but at a level roughly equivalent to the Middle Ages and are not aware of the interstellar empire) and speaks the most common language. This other narrative, concerning the alien empire and Charles' (Yes, Tess and Charles. I thought the man in question was an overbearing arrogant jerk, not just to Tess but also to his own people and even family, and I did not find the way they ended up together forgivable.
If you are a fan of books with lovely descriptions and long journeys of self-discovery? Do you love books filled with details that show what an alien culture might be like? Tess' brother fought back against them, and instead of punishing him, they gave him a bunch of planets to rule over. Her brother decided to make Tess his heir, which elevated her status among the aliens. There are lots of other odd and interesting tidbits of their society that Tess learns to navigate during her time with the Jaran. There's a romance that brews between Tess and one of the Jaran, but it slowly builds over the course of the story.
The first time I read this book, I was floored by how captivating, engaging, entertaining, and engrossing it was for a sci-fi (technically) novel. A nitpicky thing I really liked on my first reading, was her skill with rendering scenes and situations realistically without giving us too much information.
Im simply not in the mood for this and honestly I couldnt care less about the plot, its characters or the intrigue. Tess attempts to get to the bottom of a supposed conspiracy against her brother by the Chapalii, an alien race that rules all territories. All science fiction in this books stems from this background but isnt an integral part to the story, as Rhui is a planet populated by nomadic people quite similar to Arabs 2000 years or more ago on Earth. I mean if something is taking place in the future, and space travel, alien races and intergalactic politics and intrigues are mentioned you want to see them played out. I mean Tess is learning the language of the tribe of this planet and learning to ride and trying to understand the very different culture and them she learns songs and native legends and myths. That's all well and good, but 35% into the story the romance didn't even start, not even romantic interest is really shown.
Tess is immediately adopted into his clan, and then finds that Ilya is playing tour-guide to the Chapalii because theyre paying him in the horses hell need for his up-coming campaign. The world building is complex and nuanced both the Jaran and the Chapalii have their own separate history and traditions.
I wanted to like this book. But Tess follows some of these aliens, ends up on a low tech planet following them around and living with the nomadic, low tech (they don't know that high tech exists) indigenous people. The first half of the book is pretty good, even if Tess veers into Mary Sue territory (she is brilliant at riding a horse, even though she hasn't really before, she is brilliant at learning the languages, and she gets to break all the societal boundaries because she isn't from around there). Yet somehow by the end of the book Tess is in love with him, forgives him, and gives in to him. But she spent the first half of the book knowing that she didn't want him in spite of his hotness.
She shakes up the gender politics in a way that's familiar to modern readers, even though the gender dynamics are different in the world of Jaran - an interesting inconsistency. Jaran is - well, a good starting point would be Elizabeth Bear's non-European high fantasy.
When he gave up police work to study archaeology, they and their three children fell into an entirely new set of adventures in dusty Mexican ruins and mouthwatering European pastry shops.