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October 22, 2020

The Thorne Chronicles (Books 1 & 2) by K. Eason ~ a Review

by MK French

The Thorne Chronicles is a new space opera duology from K. Eason. 

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How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse by K. Eason

How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse
October 2019; DAW; 978-0756415297
audio, ebook, print (416 pages); space opera
Rory Thorne is a princess with thirteen magical blessings, and the oldest child in her family. She figures she will inherit and rule her parents' interplanetary corporation, but this is upended when her father is assassinated, a baby brother is born, and she's betrothed to the prince of another planet. Once there, she discovers a plot to usurp his throne, so Rory and her newly made allies have to defeat the Regent and save the prince.

This is a feminist reimagining of fairy tale tropes mixed with space opera, compared to Princess Leia entering the Princess Bride. We begin with Rory's christening, fairies giving her gifts and the thirteenth uninvited one giving her a gift that nearly amounts to a curse. From there, Rory's impetuous and truthful nature is what allows her and Ivar to avoid the bomb that the Minister of Energy uses to maneuver his way into Regency and power of the Free Worlds of Tadesh. The magic in this multiverse is arithmancy, hexes and computer languages all a function of mathematics. In this manner, anyone can learn it, and it's a question of skill and practice to get good enough to delve deep into databases and find hidden information, or plant it.

Rory is caught in political gambits; the Regent certainly doesn't want to give up power he so artfully gathered, and her presence in his orbit keeps her from being used as a political football to perpetuate a war but keeps threats around her at all times. She is following the classic hero's journey, so she has those teachers she learns from, the losses she has to find vengeance for, and the person she has to rescue. She's sixteen, still a child for all of her royal presence, and wasn't gifted with preternatural wisdom. This means she can make mistakes, get hurt, and lose gambits she tries so hard to make.

How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge by K. Eason

How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge
October 2020; DAW; 978-0756415310
ebook, print (416 pages); space operas
Rory thwarted the plot, saved the betrothed, incited a revolution, and renounced her title. Now a privateer, she and her crew stumble across the remains of a ship that had been attacked. On board is technology, arithmancy, and a sentient rose plant that is a biological weapon that just wants to survive. The alien attackers return to the ship, and now it's a race to escape them and save the multiverse.

This is the second part of the duology, picking up two years after the end of the first book. Rory and friends are firmly set as privateers on the edge of human space, while other comrades are sheep farmers on an isolated planet. Fairies still exist and intervene when they deem necessary, kicking things off again. Getting to the sentient Rose takes a while, giving us a look at the new shape of the politics between different planet groups and alien species. The Protectorate is relatively new on the scene, but aggressive, and especially toward Tadeshi people and ships. It's fascinating to see the different alien races and the interactions and beliefs that they have about each other.

While there is still a focus on the individual characters in this volume of the duology, there is a galactic import to the choices that they all have to make. It's not just the freedom of a small group of people on a space station or the alliance between two human factions to deal with. Now it's a matter of multiple human factions, alien races, and the possibility of annihilation. Though Rory really didn't want to be a princess or have a responsibility, those skills are what allows her to survive first contact. The conclusion is a little somber in tone, closing the duology with a summation of what will happen afterward. I enjoyed the glimpse into privateer Rory and her crew, and the look into alien cultures.

This is a fascinating mix of magic and space opera, and not a mix I thought would work at all. It does, and I kept coming back to finish the book to see what happened next. A great story, and one that I would've enjoyed seeing as a trilogy.

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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