Saturday, January 28, 2017

Girl of Fire (The Expulsion Project #1), by Norma Hinkens

Dunecadia Publishing, January 2017

Trattora and Velkan are two teenagers, each of mysterious background, but who clearly have a common origin, even though they've never met.

Trattora has grown up a chieftain's daughter on a rather backward and isolated planet, while Velkan has grown up a serf--essentially a slave--on a trading ship whose owner-captain, Sarth, is not overly concerned with the law.

Trattora has always known she was adopted, brought to the planet Cwelt by the last trading ship that reached them before Sarth's. It doesn't take the two young people long to discover that they each have one item from their unknown parents: bracelets identical except for the name engraved on it.

Trade negotiations are already not going well when it's discovered just how much Sarth doesn't care about the law, and Trattora is determined to save her new friend regardless of the risks. But when Marauders show up, Trattora's people have no option but to hide in the caves, while Sarth, her crew, Trattora, and two other Cweltans are near enough to Sarth's ship that getting off planet fast is the better choice.

What follows is adventure, treachery, and derring-do, much of it wildly improbable. Trattora often seems simultaneously too naive, given her age and her upbringing as a chief's daughter, and too sophisticated, given her upbringing on a backward world, with no direct experience of high tech except the education programs her father bought for her at the same time he bought her from that last previous trade ship. They visit a prison planet, a couple of trading worlds, and finally Aristozonex, where Trattora and Velkan hope to finally track down some real information on their parents, how they came to be living in such different circumstances, with only the identical bracelets as clues to their origins.

There are many problems with the book, some already mentioned. I don't think enough thought went into the world building, though I could be proven wrong in subsequent books in the series. It is nowhere explained why the Cweltans use "moons" to refer to years, i.e., it has been fourteen "moons" since Trattora arrived and was adopted by parents, and she's now clearly in her late teens. It's silly stuff.

And yet I liked the characters, and enjoyed both their developing personalities and relationships, and the often silly plot. This won't be on anyone's nominations lists, but it is an enjoyable read.

Recommended on that basis.

I received a free electronic galley of this book and am reviewing it voluntarily.