This is a sci fi story about a desert society where the rulers have an ability to detect water. The ruling princesses are given special cheek implants which further enhance this ability. At this time there is only one princess with this power, and she relies more on technology than any powers to detect and control water. There was a coup many years ago and the original rulers with this ability fled and were said to be dead. This story centers around a con-artist pretending to be the exiled princess, and a military leader from the palace sent to arrest her. Light and enjoyable. A little predictable. Interesting world. I think that this is probably not Connie Willis' best work but it is fun.
I enjoyed this story set on a desert planet, but it's no Dune. The main characters were engaging, some aspects of the world drawn with fine detail, and the story itself was well-written and diverting, but fairly lightweight. I recommend it for a beach book!
This book, co-written by Cynthia Felice, was Connie Willis' first published novel. (1982).
Unfortunately, although this book is a perfectly acceptable sci-fantasy adventure, it does not show any of the witty, original aspects that have subsequently catapulted Willis to the forefront of her field.
The cover blurb is by Andre Norton, and it reads very much like it was strongly influenced by Norton.
On a desert planet, controlling the underground water supply is of primary importance. Unfortunately, infighting has decimated the nobility, and the final surviving princess has none of the hereditary water-witch mental powers needed - instead she relies on computers - and seems to be making shady deals with off-worlders for weapons and more.
Her trusting fiance tries to do damage control on the situation - but a flyer accident strands him in the desert - where he meets another victim of recent disaster - Deza, a young woman whose life has been that of a con-artist, pretending to be a water-witch herself, along with her father.
Now, her father has been killed, and her father's spirit seems to be able to telepathically communicate with her through an animal known as a mbuzi - the bones of which have long been associated with both the water-witch powers and other legends - and which now seem like they may become a hot commodity off-world...
The complexity of the situation here deserves more than a 200-odd page book, and although the book is entertaining, it doesn't achieve greatness.
On the desert world of Mahali, he who controls water rules an empire.
Mahali is a planet colonized by Earth-descended humans, but there has of necessity been some genetic drift. Some people actually have 'water-seeking' senses . . . and some people pretend to have them. What happens when pretenders clash with politicians of unlimited ambition on a resource-poor world that has recently come back into contact with the rest of the known galaxy?
Well written and imaginative.