First Sister has no name and no voice. As a priestess of the Sisterhood, she travels the stars alongside the soldiers of Earth and Mars—the same ones who own the rights to her body and soul. When her former captain abandons her, First Sister’s hopes for freedom are dashed when she is forced to stay on her ship with no friends, no power, and a new captain—Saito Ren—whom she knows nothing about. She is commanded to spy on Captain Ren by the Sisterhood, but soon discovers that working for the war effort is so much harder to do when you’re falling in love.
Lito val Lucius climbed his way out of the slums to become an elite soldier of Venus, but was defeated in combat by none other than Saito Ren, resulting in the disappearance of his partner, Hiro. When Lito learns that Hiro is both alive and a traitor to the cause, he now has a shot at redemption: track down and kill his former partner. But when he discovers recordings that Hiro secretly made, Lito’s own allegiances are put to the test. Ultimately, he must decide between following orders and following his heart.
I honestly don’t know how to start this review because whilst I read and enjoyed the story it fell flat in SO many ways for me, and after finishing it im at a little bit of a loss as to why. Set in the distant future where humanity split into three distinct groups: The Icarii, humans that populated both Mercury and Venus, technologically advanced and unwilling to share with their fellow humans; the Gaens are descended from humans who populated Earth and Mars, they are ruled both by both military and religious rulers, and the Asters, geneassisted humans made perfect for spacefaring, but these differences now make them inferior to the Icarii and the Gaen and they are used more as a workforce. Due to the Icarii’s unwillingness to share their technological advances and the Gaen’s philosophical differences there has been a longstanding war between the two races, one that has led to the Asters being exploited by both sides.
The story is told from three main perspectives. First Sister is a ranking priestess on a Gaen warship. The Sisters are, more often than not, sold into service of the mother becoming ‘comfort’ for the Gaen army both in the religious and physical sense. As First Sister she has certain privileges her other Sister’s don’t, the main being that no crew member except the Captain is allowed to seek physical comfort from her. When First Sister’s ship gets a new Captain, everything is thrown into the air. First Sister has to fight for the privilege’s she previously had, but this Captain isn’t like the others. Saito Ren seems to balk from physical contact and asks First Sister to do forbidden things, things that could get her killed. She feels caught between her role as a Sister and this new Captain that treats her with more respect than she has been shown her whole life.
Lito sol Lucius is a Rapier in the Icarii army. One part of an elite team bonded via a neural implant, he is mourning the loss of his Dagger, not dead but taken from him as punishment for loosing Ceres to the Gaen. His name shows that he has no rank, he had to fight for his position and though he may not agree with everything the Icarii government do, he is the only thing between his sister and poverty and he would never risk that. Until one day Lito gets a task he is unsure he can complete. Hiro, his previous Dagger, has been accused of Treason and Lito is being sent back to Ceres, the place he nearly died with a new Dagger and a new mission. Find and Kill The Mother, the leader of the Gaen religion and find and kill the traitor Hiro val Akira. But his new Dagger is hiding some secrets of her own and they could change Lito’s perspective forever.
The final POV is Hiro themself. Their perspective is given in a recording that makes it’s way to Lito before he leaves for his mission. A recording that gives us, not only an insight into Lito and Hiro’s background, but gives us HUGE hints to some major plot points in the book. Hiro is gender fluid and we are treated to a wealth of other LGBTQ characters. One of my main issues with this book is that I really struggled to bond with any of the characters, they each had their own trauma and I did feel some sort of emotional response, but genuinely did not really care whether they made it out alive. I imagine this wont be an issue for most people, but I tend to struggle with books where I can’t bond with the characters.
The action scenes were of epic proportions and extremely well written. I could easily bring the scenes to life in my head and that made some of them all the more terrifying. I wouldn’t say the plot is fast paced, this felt like it should have been a lot longer than it was just not in a bad way. There are plenty of plot twists scattered throughout the book that definitely keep us as the readers on the tips of our toes, and although I feel like a fool for not guessing it, there is one big one at the end that threw me for a loop.
There were plenty of plus points for this book; great LGBTQ rep, brilliant worldbuilding and a unique take on future space faring humanity. However there were some things I just couldn’t get past. I felt like the first half of the book was well paced, setting up the story and giving us a deep insight into the ‘Galaxy’ and it’s history and then the ending just kind of came out of nowhere like a rocket. There was a pretty big twist that I just didn’t feel added any value to the story and it just came across as really rushed… which is strange when you think this is the first in a series. Like I said, I did enjoy this book as a whole. Would I read it again or continue on with the series? Probably not, but I imagine I will be in the minority when it comes to my opinion on this one.