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WesternSFA


Ties of Power
by Julie Czerneda
Daw, 484pp
Published: 1999

This is the second story in Czerneda’s Clan Chronicles series. Click here for a review of the first book.

In this world, there are a myriad of sentient species who all enjoy interstellar travel and trade.  The primary focus of the story is on the interaction between Humans and the Clan – who look human but aren’t.  The clan are reputed to be telepaths with strange powers.  They also look at Humans as something much less than themselves.  This arrogance comes from their firm belief that they – and they alone – are responsible for the creation of another dimension through which they travel.  This dimension, m’hir, allows them instantaneous transportation to any location they can image.  Although human telepaths do exist, their power is so weak that they cannot travel as the Clan does; thereby justifying the Clan’s worldview.  The Clan has engaged in selective breeding for generations which is now bringing their species’ demise.  Some of the clan believe the breeding should continue while others are beginning to see the catastrophic damage.  Siri had done considerable research in the first story, driving her to attempt a bold experiment with a human in an attempt to trigger her own reproductive process without actually ‘joining’ with the human.  The first story chronicles how that turned out – she lost her identity and felt in love with the human, Morgan.  This train of events turned the Clan against Siri and she found herself a target of both her own people and the Trade Pact authorities (the interstellar policeforce) who are investigating a string of murders.  But Siri’s most pressing priority was keeping Morgan safe…from both her and the rest of the universe.

As the second story begins, Siri and Morgan are attempting to maintain a relationship that could prove fatal to Morgan.  If Siri loses control over her natural impulses to ‘join’ with a powerful male, she will, quite probably, kill Morgan.  It is a precarious existence and a lonely, frustrating one, as well. 

Siri and Morgan become embroiled in yet another plot by the Clan when they are attacked and Siri left for dead – and worse, the victim of an unknown surgical procedure.  In her fear and rage at what was done to her, she implants a deadly compulsion in Morgan and the two of them are separated.  Morgan departs to find the villain or villains and recover what was taken from Siri.  Siri, in an attempt to elude the Clan while severely weakened, takes refuge with a strange race – the Drapsk.  The Drapsk are more than delighted with their new passenger and immediately inform her that she has been selected as a Contestant in an important ceremony.  She appreciates their assistance but views them with some amusement and later, frustration – as she tries to leave only to find they have unknown defenses against the Clan and are easily able to control her power.  This revelation opens up all kinds of questions of how they are able to do the things they do, plus her recovery is slower than she would like; leaving her no choice but to go along with their plans for as a Contestant. But she chafes at being unable to find Morgan and remove her ill-conceived compulsion before he does something unforgivable.

Morgan, meanwhile, is tracking members of the Clan and trying to figure out their involvement with missing human telepaths.  He finds himself driven by Siri’s compulsion and his best friend fears for his sanity.

As Siri learns more about her new little friends, she also learns more about the real nature of the m’hir.  And the information is reality-changing; it will change everything about how the Clan understands the m’hir and may even lend an understanding of how and why the Clan were banished from their homeworld generations earlier.

As you might guess by now, this is a huge plot.  A science fiction plot with fantasy elements – something for everyone.  The worldbuilding was creative but not overwhelming; the character development was very good.  This was a very satisfying story, albeit a very long one.  And it’s not over. The end of this story did wrap up a couple significant plotlines leaving no cliff-hangers so I can’t predict where the third story will go.  But keep watching, I’ll be posting that review soon.

 Watch for my reviews of the whole series. ~~ Catherine Book

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