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.
Sci-fi author Catherine Asaro includes a very strong romantic component in her writing. THis is the first book, in the Skolian Empire saga. In it, the woman is a space-fighter pilot with a rank equivalent to admiral; she's almost fifty years old, but biotech has kept her young. The hero is more than twenty years her junior and in the end she is the one who rescues him. Very enjoyable.
My favorite SF stories involve voyages into the unknown, but not finding many good stories in that vein, I decided to try this book. I found the book well written with believable characters, good descriptions of the various locales and a good story.