Lynda Williams
& Alison Sinclair,
Throne Price
(Edge, 2003)

Gelion is a highly structured, feudal society. Much value is placed on genetic purity, with the ruler being referred to as "Pureblood." The Ava (ruler) is the pureblood with the most Houses sworn to him or her. By contrast, Rire is a democratic society looked after by a network of artificial intelligences. The Gelacks, especially the ruling class, simply cannot understand the Reetions.

Erien of House Monitum is an exception, however. Although Gelack by birth, he was raised by Reetions after the death of his Monatese guardian. He understands both peoples and wants nothing more than peace between them. This, however, is not an easy thing to come by, since the highborn Gelacks look at the democratic Reetions as masterless commoners unfit for proper company. With tensions high between the two peoples and war likely to break out in the next few weeks, the ruler of the Gelacks places the Reetion ambassador -- Erien's foster father -- in protective custody. Erien decides that it is time he returned to Gelion to see where his loyalties should lie.

Throne Price is a difficult book to summarize due to the twisted nature of Gelack politics and the complex net of shifting loyalties. It's easy enough to call it science fiction, but like all good science fiction, it examines deeper issues: loyalty, love, propriety, sexual relationships (heterosexuality, homosexuality and incest) and family values, among others. Authors Lynda Williams and Alison Sinclair treat each of these subjects -- even the most difficult ones -- fairly.

The authors do an admirable job of juggling all the storylines without dropping anything and thoughtfully provide a glossary of Gelack terms.

- Rambles
written by Laurie Thayer
published 19 February 2005

Buy it from