Friday, October 21, 2005

Kaleidoscope Eyes: Glynne MacLean, Roivan: Book One of the A'nzarian Chronicle (Auckland; New Zealand, 2003)

Roivan is an alien child hiding out on an Earth Spaceship. All she knows/remembers is that she is to head to human space, she isn't to tell anyone what she is is (not that she remembers), she is never to take the Test and that she is to keep moving, no more than fifteen days on any ship. But this time, with no ships in the area, she is stuck, unable to teleport from ship to ship. This will turn out to be a massive inconsistency which an editor should have caught, because Roivan is incredibly powerful and can teleport across the Galaxy.

But Roivan is caught, and adopted by the captain and also by the chief engineer in a less formal way. She turns out to be terribly important--her race once made contact with the Jeng, another telepathic race--and her kind, the superpowered Arktrese, accidentally killed everyone over 25 with their broadcast. Now her people kill Arktrese at the age of six. She is the first (but not the last) to survive.

I enjoyed this very much; Roivan is engaging, her new father upright, strong, admirable, in the way of all fathers of adoring elementary school age children. But the story is very slow--the space opera elements creep up only in the last third--a great deal of it is spent with Captain Carter teaching her to be a good little girl, and I did feel that MacLean needed to decide who the protagonist was, Carter or Roivan. If she had chosen Carter then the readership would I think be teenage as we saw someone looking after a pesky kid. But if it's Roivan, then I wonder if the book is attractive to a teen market (and it's pitched too high for anything but a very bright 8 yr old).

Final complaint: at the end Roivan is told she is destined to be a Sulis, who will lead her people to a new age.

Yuck. Let's get over the destinarian thing chaps. The problem with pre-destined leaders is that they can turn out to be President Bush.


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