by Eric Van Lustbader
The Mistress of the Pearl
Tor, March, 2004.
Hardcover, 588 pages.
Eric Van Lustbader returns to the world of Kundala in this third book in the series which began with The Ring of Five Dragons and The Veil of a Thousand Tears. Although the alien V'ornn conquered the planet over one hundred years ago, the local population has never given up hope that the Dar Sala-at or Messiah will save them from the occupation. Riane, the Dar Sala-at, is actually a joining of the souls of a female Kundalan and a male V'ornn, Annon, which makes relationships tricky, to say the least. As the resistance grows and Riane follows her destiny, the technomages have their own problems -- an alien race is determined to wipe out the V'ornn. So they embark on some horrific experiments in order to save their race.
The saga of Kundala heads in a new, exciting direction with The Mistress of the Pearl. The suspense builds as the complex storyline evolves. Mr. Van Lustbader even adds a welcome touch of slapstick to ease some of the tension. But it is the journey of Riane and her interactions with the other characters that is absolutely riveting. Kurgan, the V'ornn, is deliciously despicable; he manages to steal every scene he's in. The overarching theme of the series so far is the conflict between technology and spirituality, but the sub-theme seems to be the crucial importance of bridging the gap between peoples of differing religions, races and cultures in order to make a society work. Top notch storytelling, multi-layered characters and fascinating cultures make for compelling reading in this series which effortlessly combines both SF and fantasy elements.
The Mistress of the Pearl is available for purchase on Amazon.com
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This review was published in the July-August, 2004 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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