Since she was born, Kyr has trained for the day she can avenge the murder of planet Earth. Raised in the bowels of Gaea Station alongside the last scraps of humanity, she readies herself to face the Wisdom, the powerful, reality-shaping weapon that gave the majoda their victory over humanity.
They are what’s left. They are what must survive. Kyr is one of the best warriors of her generation, the sword of a dead planet. When Command assigns her brother to certain death and relegates her to Nursery to bear sons until she dies trying, she knows she must take humanity’s revenge into her own hands.
Alongside her brother’s brilliant but seditious friend and a lonely, captive alien, Kyr escapes from everything she’s known into a universe far more complicated than she was taught and far more wondrous than she could have imagined.
This was one of the books on my list of anticipated books of 2023. I read an advanced copy after reading the first chapter posted by the publisher earlier this year. One of the blurbs on the cover describes the experience of reading this book as “palm-sweating,” and I have to agree. This is not a romance, not even as a science fiction novel with romantic elements, even though sexual orientation is an important element to the society that Kyr is a member of. This is very much a character-driven novel, but that doesn’t mean that plot and setting aren’t important–the main conflict is how making different choices effects the final outcome and the lives of people that the main character doesn’t even know. Emily Tesh provides important content warnings at the beginning of the book, and she was not exaggerating them at all, so if you are the least bit triggered by any or all of the things on that list, then please take care of yourself when choosing to read this book. The book is broken up into five parts or acts, with the last two parts retelling the story so that there are different choices available to Kyr. The parts are prefaced by in-universe excerpts of books, which serve to provide a bigger picture and context to what Kyr knows and believes, but not too much. This isn’t a choose-your-own-adventure type of book, because the reader doesn’t get to make the different choices; it’s all up to Kyr and her fellow characters. The book is told from Kyr’s point of view, but not in the first-person. It is important for you to be very clear on this point—Kyr is not a likeable character. She isn’t misunderstood, or prickly on the outside and soft on the inside. The most flattering description of her I can give is that she is a self-righteous, perfectionist, rule-abiding bitch. She’s smart and very good at being a soldier, but those are her main redeeming qualities for most of the book. Continue reading