book reviews by Althea

Undercity – Catherine Asaro ***

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If you have run out of Lois McMaster Bujold books to read, Asaro’s ‘Undercity’ is a good next choice. It’s got that same kind of space-investigation-military-adventure going on, with engaging characters and fast-moving action.

Set in Asaro’s well-established matriarchal Skolian Empire, ‘Undercity’ introduces her fans to Baahjan – an ex-military woman who’s set herself up as a private investigator in luxurious Selei City. (Imagine her as a somewhat-more-moral detective version of Han Solo, with cyber-soldier bio-enhancements).

As the story opens, Bhaaj has just accepted a lucrative-but-opaque assignment. Little does she expect to be spirited far from her new home, and plunged back into the subterranean ghetto that she barely escaped as a child.

The book contains three almost-separate stories. One links right into the other, but each has a separate focus. In the first, Bhaaj is assigned to find a missing prince. In the second, the plot expands to encompass a weapons-smuggling scheme. And in the last, the human-rights theme that is evident throughout the book comes to the fore, as Bhaaj finds herself taking on the cause of the second-class citizens of the undercity.

Good fun, with plenty of room for more adventures to come…

Many thanks to NetGalley and Baen for the opportunity to read this book. As always, my opinions are my own.


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