Welcome back my mom as she helps me tackle the towering pile of books! :D
This Gulf of Time and Stars by Julie E. Czerneda is the first book of a new series within the Clan Chronicles, but the seventh in the series so far. It is an interesting universe, filled with inscrutable aliens and plenty of mysteries to keep the reader guessing about the greater mystery until nearly the end of the work. I suspect that I would have enjoyed this book a great deal more if I had read the previous six books in the series. As it was, I was generally confused for most of my foray into the universe of the Clan. If you are a fan of this series, you will probably enjoy this one as it takes its main characters back home to solve the mystery of their origins.
Note: I received an advanced copy of This Gulf of Time and Stars from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.
This Gulf of Time and Stars by Julie E. Czerneda (Reunification #1)
Published by DAW on Nov. 3rd, 2015
Genres: Adult, Sci-fi
Page Length: 464 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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To save their world, the most powerful of the Om’ray left their homes, transporting themselves into the void on Passage. They left behind all memory of their past, knowing only that they must make new lives for themselves among the Humans.
Calling themselves the Clan, they settled among Humanity, hiding in plain sight, using their ability to slip past normal space to travel where they wished, using their ability to control minds to ensure their place and security.
They are no longer hidden.
For the Clan face a crisis. Their reproduction is tied to individual power, and their latest generation of females, Choosers, are too strong to safely mate. Their attempt to force others to help failed until Sira di Sarc, their leader and the most powerful of their kind ever born, successfully Joined with a human, Jason Morgan, starship captain and telepath. With Morgan, Sira forced the first peace between her kind and the Trade Pact. Together, they now search for an answer. But it is a peace about to shatter. Those the Clan have controlled all these years will rise against them. Her people dying around her, war about to consume the Trade Pact, Sire will be left with only one choice.
She must find the way back.
And take the Clan home.
- The main characters sucked me in and held my interest despite the general confusion I felt through most of the book. I think both Sira and Jason deserve more character development than they got in this book, but I was pulling for them to succeed as they went from one bleak situation to an even worse one before they finally found a way out that looks promising. But not yet resolved – so stay tuned for the next book in the series.
- I appreciated aliens that are truly alien – they don’t think like Humans nor look like Humans nor need the same living conditions. Part of the reader’s confusion stems from the fact that some species’ motivations just don’t make sense to Humans or the humanoid Clan. Not since Babylon 5 have I been reminded that alien intelligence is not necessarily going to make sense to us if/when we meet it.
- I like books that have powerful women in leadership roles, even if those women don’t necessarily want to be leaders. We play the hand we’re dealt, and Sira Morgan does a credible job. She seems, at times, incredibly naïve, but she does her best to recover when she’s misread a situation.
- Normally, I don’t have a problem when starting a new series in the middle, but this book seemed to assume that I knew the characters and their backstory and the history of their species. There were many sections that referred back to the history of the main characters or their people without sufficient reprise to explain why the memories or names were important to the current story. I spent about 7/8 of the book feeling pretty lost and nearly quit reading many times.
- Adding to the confusion was a lack of sense of time and distance. How many generations have gone by since the Clan entered Human space (and lost their memory of where they came from)? How far away are the various locations mentioned …. Even if you give the amount of time it takes to fly between systems, that provides important orientation for a science fiction setting. And also gives some sense of how much a benefit it is to be able to teleport between systems.
- Which leads me to the next point. I was never sold on the benefits of the selective breeding program vs. the cost in terms of loss of life of potential breeders. Teleportation and telepathy could be very beneficial if used well. You just have to look at the Pern series to see how these gifts can be used for the good of the whole species. But, other than escaping … repeatedly …… I saw no great advantage for teleportation to the Clan. Plus, humans had developed similar gifts naturally. Why members of the ruling Council continued to arrange pairings that would lead to this evolutionary dead end (and literal dead end for many individuals) is one of the mysteries of the book.
- Finally, I found the book disjointed. The POV shifts from first person to third person frequently and without real benefit of the first-person perspective. Races and people are introduced without clear explanation for their motivation and why they are trying to destroy (or help) the Clan. It felt a lot like fan-service and reluctance to leave anyone’s favorite character out of the book. The first ¾ of the book only sets up the reason why the Clan are running back to what they think is their home world – and many interesting characters (and a scary antagonist) are left behind as soon as the book shifts location to Cersi. Only to leave yet again for another, unknown world and the next step in solving the mystery of who or what the Clan really is.
I really struggle when giving any book 2 flames, but I truly did not enjoy it myself. I think the book has many flaws, and I honestly couldn’t recommend it to anyone who has not read the previous series. If you are a fan of Julie Czerneda or the Clan Chronicles, this might be a good book for you, however.
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
This Gulf of Time and Stars by Julie E. Czerneda
© 2015, Barbara. All rights reserved.