Heart Thief, by Robin D Owens

>> Thursday, May 13, 2004

I love futuristics, especially those set in alternate realities. But I'm not into just any futuristics, the typical healer / barbarian romance doesn't hold much appeal for me, so I don't tend to read all that much in the genre. Lately, though, there seem to be more interesting futuristics coming out... Patti O'Shea's Ravyn's Flight, a new release by Jayne Castle, After Dark, that new series starting with Susan Grant's The Legend of Banzai Maguire...

The situation's looking good. The latest I've read in the genre is Heart Thief, by Robin D. Owens. This one's the second book in a trilogy. It follows HeartMate (which I haven't read) and is followed by Heart Duel (which received a DIK review at AAR and is in my TBR shelf)

On the planet Celta, founded by adherents of a Wiccan-like religion whose followers have psionic, or psychic, talents, Ruis Elder is an outcast on trial for his life. Not only doesn't he possess psionic talent but his mere presence nullifies the powers of others. Ailim Silver Fir, a judge and a strong empath, finds peace for the first time in her life when Ruis' null field gives her respite from the chaos of all the feelings that incessantly swirl around her. Sentenced to exile, Ruis sneaks back into Druida to hide in the spaceship that first brought humans to the planet, and he endears himself to the ship's artificial intelligence. As Ailim and Ruis fall more in love, they uncover the dirty deeds that stripped him of his inheritance and rightful place.
While Heart Thief was far from perfect, but this author has great promise. A B-.

The best thing about this book was very definitely the world-building. Owens has created a world that is pretty complicated and intrincate, and mostly enjoyable. I felt a little at a disadvantage at times due to my not having read the first book in the series, but while I'm still waiting to find out certain details, like what exactly a "Passage" entails, I easily got into the spirit of things and didn't get lost. However, much as I liked this on the whole, I must say some things feel pretty juvenile, like the CapitalizedWords, or overly cute and precious, like the Fam animals.

The romance was ok. I liked both characters, and it was an interesting story, but the most important thing here was the setting and the plot, which sprang directly from the characteristics of the world of Celta. Even the romance felt determined by this, because there really wasn't much internal conflict here: Ailim and Ruis would have been together in a flash, almost from the beginning, if it hadn't been for the external problems they faced.

All in all, a very promising debut. If the next one is good, too, I'll be sure to look for book 1 and to keep an eye on this author.

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