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Primary Inversion

by Catherine Asaro

hardcover edition

Primary Inversion, Catherine Asaro's debut novel, is a difficult book to pigeonhole with a few pithy sentences. This is not because it's particularly original, but because the author has thrown together elements from many other science fiction books and stirred vigorously. I enjoyed the resulting story tremendously.

Sauscony Valdoria is a bio-mechanically enhanced supersoldier, an elite space fighter pilot, one of the most powerful telepaths in the galaxy, and the potential heir to the vast interstellar Skolian Empire. The Skolian Empire is at war with the evil sadistic slave-trading Trader Aristos, so it's a bit of a shock to Sauscony when she falls in love with the heir to the Trader Empire. The bad guys all seem to be graduates of the Mercedes Lackey School of Ruthless Villainy, but the good guys display a wider range of moral shades. Sympathetic characters, decent writing, and reasonably plausible science save this book from its own cliches.

I wasn't entirely satisfied with the conclusion, which leaves numerous loose ends. I expect that there will be a sequel, and I look forward to it, but I wish Asaro had tied up this book a little more cleanly.

If the idea of a cross between Anne McCaffrey's "Lady in the Tower" and C.S. Friedman's In Conquest Born with touches of "Gordon Kendall's" White Wing appeals to you, you'll enjoy this book. With its nondescript cover and title, Primary Inversion is easy to overlook in the bookstore, but keep an eye out for it. If you're in the mood for a power fantasy with a romantic undercurrent, I recommend it very highly.

-- Christina Schulman.
Reviewed in
March 1995

hardcover edition
Publisher: Tor
Date: March 1995
ISBN: 0-312-85764-0
Binding: hardcover
Pages: 317
Price: US $21.95, Canada $31.95

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Sep 2001 / CMS