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Blade Dancer
S.L. Viehl
Roc, 336 pages

Blade Dancer
S.L. Viehl
S.L. Viehl was raised and educated in south Florida, where she now lives with her husband and two children. A U.S.A.F. veteran, her medical experience was gained in both military and civilian trauma centres. She has written two other novels in the Stardoc series: Stardoc and Beyond Varallan.

S.L. Viehl Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Endurance
SF Site Review: Stardoc

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

Jory was one of the best Shockball players in the Terran league. Determined to beat the odds despite the extensive damage to her knee, she kept playing, knowing that it would give her and her mother much needed security. Following a phone call, she races home only to find her mother dead of a common human sickness. Her mother was an alien, a Joren who was kidnapped and raped along with others of her kind. Aliens, especially Joren, are hated on Earth, and Jory knows that, when they discover that she's half alien, they'll desecrate the body and deport her. She's right. They catch her trying to bury the body in the desert, and she finds herself on a ship with no money and no prospects besides a promise made to her mother. Her mother and six other of the Joren captives were impregnated by their captors, and Jory has promised to go and find the others and to tell them the truth. After that she will leave Joren, start training as a Blade Dancer and fulfill a promise made to herself -- to track down her human father and kill him.

The task has unforeseen consequences. As she tracks down each of the children, including the sexy warrior Kol, who, like her, is half human, she notices the shame with which each of them live. One is imprisoned because his crystalline skin is painful to those around him, another left out in the yard like a dog because his half reptilian form reminds his family of the vile Hsktskt, the enemies of all races, human and alien alike. These seven, despite their differences, form a bond that takes them through an attempt to capture them as slaves to entering the planet where Blade Dancers train. Here their greatest challenge isn't the training. It is staying alive.

Jory and her clan are a fascinating group of characters, each one fully realized, and even when they don't get along, there is a sense of bonding between them that is almost enviable. You never doubt that these people have each other's backs. It is a complex world where prejudice is rampant, where unreasoning hate that makes athletes stars one moment and mob-kill the next. We find that that humans are particularly unwelcome in space, and that makes the Jorens, a kind and compassionate people, turn against their children for the most foolish of reasons. The fact that this melting pot of a group are able to put aside their differences and form a cohesive team provides a huge contrast and makes the fact that these people are able to do it more special. There is also plenty of romance. Jory and Kol's attraction for each other burns pretty hot despite the idea that Kol won't make love to a person he's not joined to, and he won't join with a person who doesn't want children, putting an effective barrier in their relationship. Their society, the mixtures of alien races all vying to become the best Blade Dancers, the techniques and training devices that they employ are all very well done.

Blade Dancer is an excellent mixture of adventure, SF and romance.

Copyright © 2003 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

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