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Publisher's Summary

The Skolian Empire rules a third of the civilized galaxy through its mastery of faster-than-light communication. But war with the rival empire of the Traders seems imminent, a war that can only lead to slavery for the Skolians or the destruction of both sides. Destructive skirmishes have already occurred. A desperate attempt must be made to avert total disaster.
©1995 Catherine Asaro; (P)2000 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"In an unusually masterful first novel, physicist Asaro combines hard speculative science and first-rate storytelling to look at the galaxy's distant future....This is one of the best sf first novels in years." (Booklist)
"Though Asaro, a physicist, provides more than enough esoteric detail on faster-than-light inversion drives, cybernetic enhancements, and computer networks, she manages to anchor her story with thoughtful, engaging characters and an intriguing vision of the future." (Publishers Weekly)
"This novel deserves a wide readership." (Library Journal)

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Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Victoria
  • Taylor Mill, KY, USA
  • 01-20-05

Good Narrator and a Good Story

I am a fan of science fiction and fantasy novels. In addition I enjoy novels with strong character development (i.e. George R.R. Martin, Robert Heinlein, Robert Jordan etc.). This book was an enjoyable listen- not as fully developed as books by the afore mentioned authors, but a "lighter read". The Narrator was excellent; the plot easy to follow with just enough sci-fi, political intrigue, romance, and action; and the characters believable and enjoyable. If you are looking for a novel that contains these elements but is not highly complex, I would definitely recommend this book-you won't be disappointed.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Engaging SCIENCE fiction

Here is for once a novel that lives up to both parts of the genre’s name: SCIENCE FICTION. Wow, what a concept! That said, it is only enough to make the book work, it is not science for science’s sake (and I am a Latin teacher). It’s not as ‘hard’ science as James P. Hogan or Geoffrey Hoyle, but neither is it just the pabulum of space-magic or space-romance or a mindless space-war snack-book. I would describe it as light-to-moderate hard-science fiction, as well as a galactic war story; it’s also a romance, and, refreshingly different, for a hard-SF --from a woman’s perspective. This one will make you think and challenge your intellect. It’s not perhaps one of the greats of SF, but it certainly is a captivating book that gains momentum as it goes along, and I had already purchased the first sequel five minutes after I finished this one.
The reader, Anna Fields, is quite engaging, and though she may not portray the best or widest range of male voices, she does at least as well at those as most male readers do for female voices; as a male, I did not find her male renderings disrupted the book or made the work any less enjoyable. She was able to give enough individuality to a sufficient range of characters that after the first hour I knew most of the characters by how she read them, and that’s more than one can say for a lot of professional readers. I would certainly not shy away from any titles she read, and indeed consider her a plus for any work I was considering.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Don
  • Austin, TX, USA
  • 12-29-04

Enjoyed Listening

Another fun listen about the Skolian Empire. Asaro has just the right mix of action and romance in her books. You should get at least one hardcopy so you can take advantage of the timeline of events and descriptions of all the major characters that is in the appendix. I've read or listened to over half the Skolian stories and am looking forward to any more that Audible deigns to provide. This is a prequel to Radiant Seas.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Joki
  • Helsinki
  • 10-02-11

Endless techno-babble with an unlikely romance

There are not many books I have though to stop in the middle, but this is one of them. The start is fairly promising, but even in the first hour we get a taste of what is to come - endless descriptions of how the technology in the world functions. Now, I do like technology - but not to this excess. In a book form I might have been more forgiving (as I could just skip over the sections), but in an audiobook form is gets old really fast.

If you can trudge through the endless exposition, you'll find a weirdly dual main character. On one moment she is a 40-something battle elite-soldier-veteran - the next a love-sick teenager falling in love with a 'vampire', Twilight style. There seems to be no clear indication on exactly why she suddenly goes off the deep end (nor why he does the same), other than what I must imagine to be Elfquest like 'recognition'. And no, it does not work.

Which is a shame, since the world is a fairly interesting one, even if a bit cliche'd - the humans are the neutral (and apparently liberal americans), the evil are nazi-vampires and refreshingly the protagonist represents the not-so-good-either side.

I got this book along with Asaro's other books in this series at Audible's 3-for-2 deal. I dare say I will be very very desperate for something to listen to before I would listen to the other two.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Yvo
  • KampenhoutBelgium
  • 01-20-07

Pleasant surprise

This is SF with a new twist to my knowledge. Enough universe, consistent textures and story telling to satisfy the hard SF'er. At the same time Catherine brings in the human side. It is not very complex and still quite mono-dimensional, but this effect creates a very interesting and captivating tension in the layer that supports the story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lisa
  • Attleboro, MA United States
  • 03-01-09


Since this was a sale item, I took a chance on it dispite some of the other reviews. I am actually suprised - this is really quite a good book. The sci-fi is not skimmed over nor over indulged (as many hard sci-fi tend to be). The story is good, the characters easy to relate to and understand their connections and reactions. The sex is just mentioned, and not detailed as it can be in other books (which I don't need in sci-fi thank you). Although short - I like 12 plus hr books to spend my credits on, it moved along without dragging at all. I will be listening to the next in this series - even spending my credits on it.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

first book - so far so good

What made the experience of listening to Primary Inversion the most enjoyable?

The characters interest me and the story line was very predictable at first but has since been less predictable to me. I'm a sci-fi fantasy fan and took a while to get me started on this audio.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I am finding Cox's heir to be intriguing just because of the way the story line is going. I'm curious to see how this story plays out.

What does Anna Fields bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She sounds similar to Ellen DeGeneres which was hard to separate at first, but now that I have heard her through most of the book, I quite enjoy her voice and voices.

Any additional comments?

I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Unimaginative soap opera in space

I love science fiction and I love good science fiction. But this is the opposite of what good science fiction is supposed to be. It's basically a "telenovela" set in a futuristic environment. There is nothing creative about it and I don't think that Anna Fields is very good at doing different voices, either. I listened to the complete first part of this two part audio book and then gave up.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lisa
  • Santee, CA, USA
  • 04-21-06

Pretty good!

I liked this book - interesting science, especially about the reasons why the Traders enjoy inflicting pain on others. Descriptive writing about other worlds, colors, textures, and the strong main female character made this an enjoyable listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

I enjoyed parts of it.

First, I will echo some of what was posted in the review titled "Bridges of Madison Space Port." Much of the story is schlocky melodrama that was hard to listen to, and the narrator's performance of male voices was grating.

But scattered throughout the story are morsels of sci-fi action that was quite enjoyable.

The narrator did a great job, except for the male voices. I just don't know what possessed her to try to speak in a lower register. It was completely distracting, and I kept hoping there wouldn't be any male speaking parts because I didn't want to hear her ridiculous impression again.

I'm still on the fence about whether I will continue the series - only because of the narrator. If the rest of the books are narrated without the goofy lowered voice, then I'll probably continue.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Laura
  • 02-05-11

New to science fiction...

As someone who usualy listens romance and suspense, this was a nice change for me. I really enjoyed the plot and characters, it is a nice mix of science fiction and romance, although at times I got a bit lost in Catherine Asaros's termanology. The narrator Anna Fields, is one of my favourites and led me to this audiobook, she did a superb job as usual.
Now I just have to figure out what order the next audiobook comes in, so I can continue the series.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Graham
  • 02-11-07

It is worth a try

It seems a bit far fetched at the start but as it goes on it becomes compelling. It has all the impossible gadgets you dream of expecting in a sci-fi story set in the very far future.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful