This is a science fiction book.

Synopsis from Barnes and Nobles:

“On a broken ship orbiting a doomed sun, dwellers have grown complacent with their aging metal world. But when a serving girl frees a captive noblewoman, the old order is about to change….

Ariane, Princess of the House of Rule, was known to be fiercely cold-blooded. But severing an angel’s wings on the battlefield—even after she had surrendered—proved her completely without honor. Captive, the angel Perceval waits for Ariane not only to finish her off—but to devour her very memories and mind. Surely her gruesome death will cause war between the houses—exactly as Ariane desires. But Ariane’s plan may yet be opposed, for Perceval at once recognizes the young servant charged with her care.

Rien is the lost child: her sister. Soon they will escape, hoping to stop the impending war and save both their houses. But it is a perilous journey through the crumbling hulk of a dying ship, and they do not pass unnoticed. Because at the hub of their turning world waits Jacob Dust, all that remains of God, following the vapor wisp of the angel. And he knows they will meet very soon.”

The book is written mostly from Rien’s perspective. All her life she has believed that she’s an orphan, and she will not easily believe Perceval’s claim that she’s the angel’s half-sister and has been born to the ruling class. She has dreamed of it when she was younger but can’t believe the dream would come really true. When they are fleeing, Perceval is forced to give Rien a symbiot which makes Rien an Exalt. After that Rien struggles to understand her changing body and the feats of endurance and strength that she can now do.

The other POV character is Jacob Dust who isn’t human. In essence, he’s a very old computer program. He’s part of the ship and so can do a lot of things such as shapeshift himself and watch almost anyone in the ship. He also knows that the ship is damaged and he can’t repair it without a huge cost to himself. Therefore, he tries to manipulate some of the humans to do what he wants.

There are other POV characters, too, for a short time. Perceval is the most prominent of them. At first, she contemplates her fate at the hands of Ariane.

Each chapter starts with a short quote. Some of them are from real books, such as the Bible and from Shakespeare’s plays, but most are from imaginary books such as The New Evolutionist Bible. These almost made me want to get the print book instead of the audio.

Ariane Conn and her brothers and sisters remind me very much of Zelazny’s Amber. Here, the noble siblings also distrust each other and also live far longer than the lower-class Means. Of course, here the nobles are physically different because they have symbiots, power armor, and nanotechnology. Perceval’s father’s name is Benedict.

Even though some of the characters are named after Arthurian characters (Perceval and Tristan), the most famous Arthurian triangle is, thankfully, missing. Instead there’s the old plotline of the orphan servant who is elevated into nobility. Also, even though it’s not mentioned, the characters are on a variety of quests: first to escape, then to repair the ailing ship, and to stop Ariane’s ambitions. Saving the ship might be called questing for the Holy Grail of these people.

There are a couple of transsexual characters in the book and Rien prefers girls. On the other hand, Perceval doesn’t seem to have a sex drive at all and she has sworn herself into celibacy. Perceval’s and Rien’s father has several wives but that is mentioned just off-hand.

Even though the culture seems medieval to me mostly because of the strict class structure (which is maintained by technology), the people do know that they live in a starship and they don’t call their technology magic. The leaders of the habitats are called commanders and the leader of the whole ship is the Captain.

I liked this book a lot (except for the ending. I want more! More!) and it’s only better when relistening.

Edit: Apparently, this is the first book in a trilogy and the next, Chill, is already out! Hurrah!

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