In Conquest Born
by C.S. Friedman
A melodrama, this, a soaring, galactic melodrama that resembles nothing so much as a distillation of the 80s oeuvre of Chris Claremont transposed into a space-opera setting. You’ve got your angry super-competent female lead; your brutal yet not unsympathetic male counterpart; a seemingly-destined love that goes nowhere you’d expect; forced-sounding dialogue; complex pseudo-espionage sub-plots ... even issues with dominance and control. Above all, it’s written in prose that, while effective, recalls the emotionally-overwrought tone of Claremont in his prime; so imagine Claremont writing a Star Trek novel, and you’re halfway there.
It’s not unfun, if you like that sort of thing, but it is a bit wearying. It moves like a shot, and there’s a decent level of invention in it. But it gets a bit wrapped up in the details of its own universe and there I go talking about Claremont again. Well ... for better or worse, it’s unlike X-Men in that the book doesn’t focus on a group, but stays pretty tightly on its two main opposing characters. And having two super-competent characters in opposition to each other, alternately doing each other down, makes for an intriguing twist on standard adventure fare where it’s one hero and perhaps an almost-as-competent villain. So it keeps the attention. What more is there to say? People who like this sort of thing will like it a lot.