I wasn't expecting much from this book - I got it as a freebie - but I have to say it was remarkably good. Good characters, fast pacing, complex plot, multiple well-realized alien species. Centers around a woman of a gentle, fair-minded race, who is serving time as a judge. She ends up on the periphery of the endgame of an epic battle to stop slave trading. She's mostly a quiet observer, trying in her own delicate fashion to right what is wrong. Also features a number of more active and violent characters who each only see a small part of the puzzle. If you like Ian M. Banks space operas, you'll probably like this book, too - although it's not quite the same caliber.
I bought this book due to the extremely positive blurb on the front cover by Ursula Le Guin. I know blurbs are usually just paid ads, but my favorite lady wouldnt steer me wrong, would she? No! This book rocked!
It really makes me so happy to discover a previously-unknown-to-me author who is this good.
The book mixes sensational action a mystery-thriller plot with deft characterization and a thoughtful discussion of far-reaching issues.
Skerow is a professional judge, with a strong sense of personal ethics. However, in a strange coincidence (?), her longtime colleague is exposed for corruption at the same time as she discovers evidence of illegal slavery that may possibly originate on her home world. When her colleague soon turns up murdered, she realizes she may have just touched the tip of a Mafia-like web of crime, human- and gold- trafficking, and more. But shes haunted by the mermaid-like woman that she only glimpsed in the window of a brothel, and feels bound to try to save her
Gotliebs universe is populated my a colorful array of various types of aliens and humans, but regardless of their physical form, all of her characters are people first.
Really great stuff