Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Harmony by C. F. Bentley

C. F. Bentley
Daw Books
August 5, 2008
ISBN# 978-0-7564-0485-7

From the back cover (arc):
The world of Harmony, along with its close-knit colony planets, had long ago isolated itself from the rest of the universe. Whether you were of human or alien descent you were not welcome in Harmony space.

But in a universe where the human-based Confederate Star System fleet found itself hard-pressed to stand against ever-increasing attacks by the alien Marillon Empire, the Harmonic Empire couldn’t be left alone. For if the CSS could not win an alliance with Harmony, the Marils would surely find a way to invade and seize control of the invaluable metal which only the Harmonites could produce.Yet invasion is far from the only threat the people of Harmony faced. The very structure of their society was on the verge of crumbling. The population was divided into a seven-part caste system - with one’s lot in life determined by the caste marking they were born with - ruled over by the High Priest and High Priestess of the Crystal Temple. And the gulf between rich and poor, rulers and ruled, was nearly insurmountable. What was even worse was that the planet itself seemed to be becoming increasingly unstable. In this time of crisis one young woman, a member of the working class, yet born with the marks of all seven castes - an unprecedented event - might prove Harmony’s best hope or the catalyst for total collapse.

Could Harmony – and the unique young woman suddenly thrust into the role of High Priestess – survive both the external dangers to the empire and the internal political, social, religious, and ecological upheaval that threatened to tear the world apart?

My thoughts:
Born the daughter of a working class family, Sissy is happy enough with the factory work she does. Different than most, she carries the mark of each of the castes and has hidden all of her life from those who would lock her away as a Lood. When an earthquake hits the city, it’s Sissy’s connection with Harmony herself that saves them all. This young girl, still considered a freak by some, is elevated to High Priestess and quickly learns that the High Council has been acting in their own best interests instead of the interests of Harmony.

As war threatens from both the CSS and the Marils, Sissy accepts the guidance of her personal guard, Jake, to set Harmony on the right path. With his help, history is rediscovered, but what they learn could break their already fragile world. Especially when Sissy unveils the secret that Jake’s been hiding.

Harmony is a well done start to this series. As a world built on religion strays from their beliefs, an unlikely savior arises to protect, lead and deliver the people back to the unity of Harmony. C. F. Bentley builds a world that will capture the attention of science fiction and fantasy readers. The story moves through stages in a steady pace with defining moments in new leadership, discovery and the ever present possibility of war. While there’s no point in this installment that I’d call a big climax, there are twists and turns along the way that set the stage for what should be an interesting opening in the next visit to Harmony.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews


Enchanted by Books said...

Nice review! Very well explained.

Kimberly Swan said...

Thanks Rachael, and this was another one that surprised me. :)