Corey: What’s wrong with you? I’ve already read Catalyst, re-read Vellmar the Blade, and re-read Catalyst again. Or at least my favorite bits.
Sequella: Show-off! Real life is happening.
Kitty: And some nice alien bits there be. Also, Corey, you sound like a judgmental speed reader.
Corey: But… This is it! The novel that fills in all the adventures of Captain Ekatya Serrado and Dr. Lhyn Rivers out in the Universe while Lancer Tal and Bondlancer Salomen Opah were finding each other in the Without a Front books. And the framing is perfect: The first three days of the Alsean version of a honeymoon (“Alsean bonding break”) for Tal and Salomen in which family share stories –
Kitty: – and everyone avoids explaining to little brother Jaros why Tal’s neck looks like a treecat attacked her.
Sequella: So we get Tal and Salomen time? That makes me want to chuck real life out of the window and start reading immediately!
Corey: Right. Okay. So on one hand, all the shifting relationships amongst Ekatya, Tal, Lhyn, Lead Templar Lanaril Satran, and Lead Guard Vellmar are explored in the moment. On the other hand, Ekatya and Lhyn each share a wrenching story about their lives after the Voloth war described in the first Alsean book The Caphenon. A very early scene in which Ekatya helps Lhyn survive a PTSD-like episode lets us know she experienced something traumatic. And yes, it turns out to be VERY traumatic. Whew.
Sequella: How Sci-Fi is the book. Do we get new races? Societies?
Corey: Some of the tech aspects of FTL travel are explained (and felt), and you definitely get a dose of Space Opera political shenanigans and a military-style raid on a planet. Not so much world-building. I enjoyed the action, but my re-reads were all about the aftermath. So emotionally intense.
Sequella: Is this a book mainly about Ekatya and Lhyn, or is a new couple introduced, like it happens so often in Lesfic?
Kitty: Ahem. Dr. Wells.
Corey: Oh stop it, Kitty. You are so homosexist. Who knows who the ship’s chief surgeon is into? And there’s so much to learn about Ekatya, Lhyn, Tal. Salomen, Lanaril, and Vellmar… who needs new couples? One of my favorite moments is when Salomen points out to Tal that the Lancer doesn’t get to decide how to handle the connection between herself and Ekatya… That is something that involves all four women, including Lhyn. And the tensions between Ekatya and Lanaril are nasty intense. So awkward when your wife’s best friend makes you uncomfortable. Frankly, these books are developing into the ultimate friends-and-lovers-and-tyrees emotional mash-up. I adore it all.
Sequella: What about other kick-ass female characters?
Kitty: Dr. Wells…
Corey: Yes, Dr. Wells. But also so much more Lhyn, who is a warrior in her own way. I craved even more Lhyn. We finally get her perspective, but during such unusual and harrowing circumstances. Really, I wish I knew Ekatya and Lhyn as well as I feel I know Tal and Salomen.
Sequella: So Kitty and Corey, who of you liked the book better? Kitty, how many bookmarks did you place?
Corey: Oh, don’t get her started. Me, I highlighted 20 quotes that just made me squee and bookmarked 6 scenes for their (non-sexual) intensity. Basically, they make me cry or clutch my heart. The first time I read the book, the action sequences carried me along but I came back to re-read the emotions.
Kitty: I bookmarked two make-out scenes.
Corey: Sigh. Is that a spoiler? Bottom line, Sequella, is that life may be happening but you need to pause and go visit Alsea RIGHT NOW.
You can download a sample or purchase Catalyst by clicking here.