Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Empress of a Thousand Skies

Rhee is the only surviving heir to the Kalusian dynasty.  Her parents and older sister died in an assassination when she was a little kid.  As the only heir, she has been protected and groomed to take her place as ruler of an empire that stretches across planets.

On the cusp of her sixteenth birthday, she is preparing to assume the throne when an attempt on her life goes wrong.  Now she is on the run with an unknown boy from an enemy alien world.

Rhee thinks she knows who is behind the plot, but all of her assumptions will be turned upside down, and spending time out in the real worlds without her sheltering protectors, Rhee begins to see the truth about past wars and present circumstances.  How is it that she never saw the racism and hatred running like a poison through the empire?

Aly is a former refugee and current military grunt and reality TV star.  His dark skin and refugee status have made it difficult for him to get ahead, but he has the companionship of his best friend and shipmate, Vin.  When news that Princess Rhiannon has been murdered hits the airwaves, Aly is stunned.  The hope of her ascension has been keeping an uneasy peace won by her father's treaty at the end of the war.  But that's not all.  Aly is accused of her murder.

People are quick to believe Aly is a killer.  He's a Raitan refugee, and violence fits right in with the interplanetary stereotype.  Now Aly is on the run with the robot he programmed.  He is desperate to prove his innocence, and he knows if he can just upload his memories from his cube, a personal computer in your brain that stores all your memories and accesses information, everyone will know the truth.

Rhoda Belleza's debut novel may not be perfect, but it is a great ride with a multicultural cast and timely issues.  There are refugees, racism, clashes over religion, and all of the young people in the story are dealing with the consequences of interplanetary war that happened before they were born. The novel also explores the dangers of relying too heavily on technology. Top it off with a reality TV/entertainment news reporter who wants to take control of the government, and Belleza has written a sci-fi novel that provides what all the best sci-fi novels do--a great story with a reflection of current issues and problems.  Recommended for grades 7 and up.

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