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Ties of Power
Julie E. Czerneda
DAW Books, 484 pages

Ties of Power
Julie E. Czerneda
Julie Czerneda is a Canadian science fiction writer who lives at the edge of a forest in Orillia, Ontario, with her husband and two children. A former researcher in animal communication, she has also written non-fiction that ranges from biology texts to the use of science fiction in developing literacy.

Julie E. Czerneda Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: A Thousand Words For Stranger
SF Site Review: Beholder's Eye
A Thousand Words for Stranger excerpt interview

Past Feature Reviews
A review by James Seidman

Two years after publishing her first science fiction novel A Thousand Words for Stranger, Julie Czerneda is back with a sequel. Her latest book, Ties of Power, is subtitled "The Trade Pact Universe #2," implying that there will be more to come from this cast of characters. As with many sequels, Ties of Power reads better having read the original. If you have not already read Czerneda's first book, you would be much better off buying that excellent piece of fiction before reading this one.

Ties of Power starts with Sira and Morgan in self-imposed exile from the Clan. Barac sud Sarc, still upset over the death of his brother, and having been denied the chance of a mate by the Clan Council, chooses the same path and sets off to find Sira. But Sira cannot escape quite so easily the ramifications of being the most powerful Clanswoman ever. She discovers this when she is the victim of a surprise attack. Wounded and weak, she instructs Morgan to go off after her attackers, flooding his mind with her own rage.

And therein lies one of the most significant differences between this book and A Thousand Words for Stranger. Throughout most of this book, Morgan is not a very likeable character. With his mind altered by Sira's anger, he can barely control himself. Sira, once she realizes what she has done, is so overwhelmed with guilt that she is not terribly sympathetic either. Since Sira and Morgan are the heroine and hero of the book, this makes Ties of Power a darker, more conflicted novel.

Many of the settings and characters are the same ones introduced in the first book. The most notable new addition is the Drapsk, a race of creatures who recognize Sira's power. Fleeing from her enemies, Sira agrees to go with the Drapsk to their homeworld. Through her interactions with the Drapsk, she learns some startling facts about the M'hir, the firmament from which the Clan derives its power. As Morgan goes off in search of vengeance, Sira starts to understand how deeply mistaken the Clan is about its own nature and its place in the universe.

In her first two novels, Czerneda has quickly established herself as a master of characterization and of creating alien species. She continues this tradition of talent in her third book, with its vivid interactions and narrative. For anyone who enjoyed Czerneda's first book, Ties of Power is well worth reading.

Copyright © 1999 James Seidman

James Seidman is the director of software development at a hot Internet startup company. Consequently, he needs the excuse of doing book reviews to give himself time to read. He lives with his wife, daughter, two dogs, and twenty-seven fish in Naperville, Illinois.

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