Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

Some Things Transcend, by M.C.A. Hogarth

This is the sequel to Even the Wingless.

Most of the Some Things Transcend takes place with the protagonists trapped on a small spacecraft in enemy territory. Both sides of the conflict, the Alliance and the Chatcaava, are technologically sophisticated, spacefaring cultures (they've both got, for instance, FTL, highly advanced medicine, and short-range teleporters). There are a few combats that take place as boarding actions, because the aim is to capture rather than destroy. Most of the combat is hand-to-hand, because the ships have tight corridors and little room to get range. The setting and action work well to provide urgency and momentum to the story, and to motivate the characters.

I occasionally had trouble suspending disbelief, however. For instance: the most effective weapons used in these conflicts are the Chatcaavan's natural claws, and swords. Neither side appears to have armor, or any more sophisticated hand-to-hand weapon. This just didn't seem to fit with the rest of the tech on display. The not-working-for-me was compounded by one of the characters being deathly ill but in a way that didn't impede him from using the handful of days they had to prepare between boarding actions to practice and teach hand-to-hand combat. I ended up spending too much time thinking about how various elements were convenient for the purposes of the emotional arc of the story, which made it less immersive.

This aside, I enjoyed the emotional arc, the character development, and particularly the way the relationships between different characters unfolded. The relationships are all nonstandard: there's an asexual romance between Jahir and his longtime partner Vasiht'h, which gets tested in various interesting ways, and a complicated M/M relationship between Jahir and Lisinthir, which is sweet and romantic despite them both being (a) committed to other people and (b) having only semi-compatible BDSM interests (that they discover and talk about but do not consummate in this book). So it's a kind of polyamorous story, in that the characters have multiple interests and don't expect sexual or romantic fidelity from their partners. I had a lot of fun with that. Vasiht'h and Jahir are both psychologists, and their training resonates through their conversations. They feel very real and solidly-grounded. The characters are delightfully complex and multi-faceted. Overall, I'll give this one an 8.
Tags: book review, books

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