By: Lorrainne Bartlett
Publisher: Polaris Press
Publication Date: July 2012
ASIN: B008L0MJXC (Kindle)
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: March 16, 2014
When the Minot 4 spiraled out of control and landed on the godforsaken planet of Telenia, Amanda's Shelton's entire life churned into its soil as well. With the slaughter of her shipmates upon entry into a land of no return, bitterness crept into her very being. Amanda was defiant, not willing to become a part of Telenia, "the most backward society on the planet." Why should she? Prince Paxton was continually busy "picking her brain as well as picking apart her ship for whatever pieces of technology he could salvage." When Amanda slipped through that spatial rift it threw her into a society where women had no say, no place in a world she had no intention of helping.
The Telenians existed in an agrarian, vegetarian society, one which left her practically malnourished. Warring factions to the north further threatened Telenia. Warlord Cavada, whose "features were frozen in a perpetual scowl" due to an injury sustained when he too came from the skies, led a band of evil, inept aliens. Paxton had tossed Amanda from the palace and placed her under the care of Dohmas who would try to "work" with her. More like try to get her to see Buddy Boy Paxton's ways. Her only friend was Brannan, but was he enough to sustain her with Paxton's "dogged determination to scavenge for superior technology" from her?
Amanda would do battle, battle that would begin with the women of Telenia. There was talk of conscripting the young female populace to fight in the North so she had to hurry. They were as downtrodden as Prince Paxton tried to make Amanda. She would fight those who bore swords with needles. The founding of the Royal Needlework Academy had begun. Women and girls "left the only homes [they'd] ever known to learn skills--to earn a living." Mancia, Gritha, and Dorelia would rise up in Telenia with their needles. Perhaps if Amanda could learn to read the forbidden written word, she could overthrow Paxton. Could she defeat him before he took her to become his brood mare, a fate worse than death?
Lorraine Bartlett's foray into the fantasy world of Telenia is most certainly an unusual one for fans of either her Booktown series or those of Jeff Resnick. This tale is not complete in and of itself, but is rather a two-part serialized one. We are quickly transported into a different dimension, but one that is similar to one in our not-so-distant past. Amanda Shelton is a woman laden with the power of knowledge, yet powerless to implement it for the good of Telenian society. She alone possesses the keys to technological advances in Telenia, but as a woman she is dissed and dismissed. She is marooned, but the line "He [Prince Paxton] needed a scientist and a brood mare" is the one that definitely had the pull to move me into the second in the series, Tales of Telenia: Journey. No, this is not Bartlett in Booktown, but rather in a fantasy world I most certainly enjoyed.
Quill says: The Fantasy world of Telenia will transport you back into a world where women hold the keys to the mysteries of a backward society!