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Rhythm of the Imperium
Imperium #3
by Jody Lynn Nye
Baen, $15.00, 427pp
Published: December 2015

This new Covid-19 world has deprived me of a surplus of new books to review so I’m taking the time to clear my to-read shelves. I’m sorry it took me so long to read this one as it was a lot of fun.  This is the third in the series; however, I had no idea of that when I picked it up.  This totally stands alone quite nicely.

Lord Thomas appears to most as a privileged dilettante who dabbles in one hobby after another with no other purpose in life.  And part of that is true.  Thomas is a cousin (or maybe a brother) of the Emperor and he and his cousins truly have little purpose in the universe but to converse, play and travel.  But Thomas is a bit more than that.  His latest passion is interpretive dance and he has thrown himself so whole-heartedly into it that others are actually able to comprehend the story and emotions he attempts to depict.  His tendency to break into dance at every opportunity does tend to wear on Parsons, his bodyguard and the person who is most likely to rein in Thomas’ enthusiasm when it becomes inappropriate.  But even Parsons couldn’t have predicted the level of Thomas’ involvement and commitment to an interstellar incident.

Thomas, his cousins and sibling, and various inhabitants of the known universe are converging on a location where the mysterious Zang have announced that they will destroy a planet.  The opportunity to see such a spectacle is an once-in-a-lifetime event for most.  The Zang, who exist on a level so far above most sentient beings, enjoy ‘pruning’ star systems for aesthetic reasons – they look prettier.  They do not destroy any body that has living organisms but their reasons for doing what they do isn’t readily understood by most.  One of the Zang has ‘adopted’ a human woman, Laine, – an anthropologist – who travels with them in an attempt to understand.  When Lord Thomas meets the woman, his life and his heart are turned upside-down.

Also traveling to Zang space are members of a little-understood race called Kail.  The Kail have a particular mission: they intend to meet and implore the Zang to help them.  This sounds simple enough but they don’t take into account the improbability of the Zang even noticing them. But they are desperate; their motherworlds are being threatened by the humans and no one will do anything to protect them.  They hope to persuade the Zang to destroy a forgotten and empty little world which will punish all humanity.  Humanity has no knowledge of this forgotten little world (with the exception of Lord Thomas and his uncle) nor does anyone understand that their overtures to the Kail to establish trading and mining rights is threatening the Kail’s very existence.

It’s mostly due to Thomas’ curiosity that he sees what others don’t.  Despite the best efforts of human diplomats who become aware of the growing situation, they cannot understand or deter the Kail from their intent.  But once Thomas recognizes the impending catastrophe, he also recognizes that he may be the only creature in the universe with the ability to capture the Kang’s attention and stop them from agreeing to the Kail’s petition.  The only thing in his way is a promise he made to Parsons…

This was really a light story – while the conflict is real and the potential disaster of epic proportions, there is no evil in the story.  Which was sort of restful.  Thomas is a real delight once you realize there is so much more to him than a rich kid on a jaunt.  There was little in the way of other character development so I just floated along on the plot.  The plot was really well-thought-out and aside from Thomas, the only other real character development were the Kail – which was really fun.  I totally enjoyed this.  ~~  Catherine Book

For more titles by Jodi Lynn Nye click here

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