Saturday, May 9, 2015

Review: Five-Twelfths of Heaven by Melissa Scott (The Roads of Heaven Trilogy, Book 1)

Synopsis: The Magi had mastered the new physics and harnessed the newly discovered power of elemental harmonies – Alchemy. In so doing, they changed the face of technology for all time. But it was pilots like Silence Leigh who conquered the starlanes. Silence herself dreamed of a ship – a ship of her own and a destiny removed from the Hegemony’s oppression. But not until she joined the crew of the Sun-Treader did the dream take on reality …and a destiny never imagined became Silence’s own as well. (from the back of the book)

Review: I acquired the second and third in the series from The Great Sci-Fi Book Haul of 2013. It took me two years to find the first (which I did about three weeks ago) - and yes, I could have purchased it on amazon, but the cheapest was always about $5-$7 and I didn't want to pay that. By holding out, I got it for free.
The book took me a while to get into. The plot starts slow, but picks up quickly, and becomes richer and more engaging as the book progresses. Silence Leigh is an interesting character set in an complex world. Most of her world is controlled by a Hegemony, a social system where women are little more than slaves, without rights or power. Into the system comes Silence, who was raised in the Fringe by a grandfather who supported her desire to be a star ship pilot - something unheard of in the Hegemony. In the end, events force her into a marriage of convenience with two men - yes, a triple marriage. The author, Scott, is apparently known for the gender-bending sexuality of her novels. Since this is my first Scott, I can't speak to more of that.
The most interesting part of the Scott's world building is space flight. It took me until nearly the end of the book to figure out the details, but once I did, I find the system fascinating. To fly by music, literally, is creative and intriguing. And then to add it the concept of magus, and their abilities to bend or manipulate reality. It almost has a Star Wars feel  - magic and machine, technology and fantasy blended.
I was also pleasantly surprised by how modern it felt - being that is was published in 1985, I expect some dated references but they're weren't any that I could detect. No gold-lamé jumpsuits or green bulbous aliens or laser swords. Scott did an excellent job of creating logical technology and systems that give the story a credible feel.
In the end, while this book isn't a stay-up-into-the-wee-smaws sort of story, I enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to reading the next two.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-671-55952-4
Date Finished: 5-1-2015
Pages: 339

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