If you're into woman-hating, woman-bashing, woman-criticizing avalanches of vitriol with a bare smattering of unexplored social commentary as a mini-appetizer then this is the book for you.
If it were possible to give this book negative stars, I would do so in a heartbeat. This author has, with one book, single-handedly managed to shove women right back to the stone age. All we need now is for some hairy, grunting male to bash us over the head and drag us off to show us what being a `real woman' is all about.
My first question is how did this even manage to make it to the page? Let alone past an editor, agent, and publisher and out to the general public? The character setups don't match the characters as written. In fact, the author seems only interested in writing about men as the penultimate achievement of the universal species while women need to be carefully controlled and contained lest their power-hungry natures turn them into "sanctimonious b****es". Yes, that is a direct quote. The only thing this book seems to do well is utilize an unending stream of curse words that have no real place in literature. An occasional expletive is one thing, to prove a point, but to have every fifth word you read be four letters is just uncalled for.
As for the characters, I don't believe them in the least. The main male character, Caillan Dagan, is written as a six-foot-four gymnast/athlete/rock-hard bodied/James Bond type. Now, I could believe it if not for the consistent references to his childhood, and current adulthood, scraping out a meager existence. No one who is starved for most of their childhood ever develops into that physique. It isn't possible for a body that has been so deprived of nutrition and proper care to hit puberty let alone become the next Adonis. Even if it were, he couldn't maintain a gymnast's body and have time to be the smuggler everyone believed was "more myth than reality" AND sleep with anything female he could find. Gymnasts will tell you they have to work on that every day, hours and hours on end, just to maintain that. No way some cop-dodging smuggler has that kind of time. Furthermore, he carries enough equipment and has the skills to take on a small army but he can't lift someone who weighs twenty pounds more than him? Seriously?! I'm not, by any stretch of the imagination, an athletic type and I can lift well over my own body weight. I might not make it far under that load, but I can do it without my muscles squealing at me like over-worked horses. This guy complains if he has to lift his sister and carry her a few feet in an alleyway.
As for his sister, Kasen, who is a third-generation smuggler, she's found begging for Caillan's help as she runs around a city at the beginning of the book. A smuggler, and apparently a good enough one to be trusted with the most powerful and illegal antibiotic in this universe, and she leaves her ship to wander a city? Where cops find her and are trying to arrest her? And if she gets caught she won't stand up to their questioning? Really?! Couldn't the author have found another way to introduce Caillan as a super-awesome guy without having him shoot his sister, knocking her unconscious because he "doesn't have time for her c**p" and hiding her, so he then can run from the cops in an attempt to escape. An escape that was only thwarted because the cops found Kasen's unconscious body under her little brother's coat. I'm sorry, but I don't buy it. If Kasen is a skilled smuggler, one willing to risk death to get an antibiotic to people who're too poor to pay for doctors, she isn't going to get caught in the middle of some slum city. She'd be on her ship watching her precious cargo. In addition to which, she would know how to disappear in a city. If her brother was going to lead pursuit away he should've let Kasen hide and then run for it so they both would escape. They're both independent smugglers doing dangerous work. They would BOTH know how to get out. And no way she'd be so pathetic as to spill her guts to cops.
His eldest sister, Shahara, is another wild bit of hypocrisy. She's the eldest child who mothers Caillan constantly, was raped, became a badass bounty-hunter, and then got married and saunters around in pretty "flowing floral dresses" while she stays home. Her husband is not only rich he happens to be a founding member of a rogue agency working against the corrupt assassins guild. I don't buy it. Sure former badass bounty-hunter could hook up with a guy who's price on his head is staggering, but I don't believe she'd go all girly and call her little brother "honey" and "baby" when he's thirty-years-old. Eww!
Then we come to the other main character, a woman born, bred, and raised to be a total military whiz. She comes from a woman-run, woman-dominated society that believes the natural body is the most beautiful work of art. And yet, because she's "heavyset" her mother and sisters are constantly belittling her about her weight. Yeah, that makes sense. Oh, and she can't read the Common language even though she speaks it fluently. What? This is a woman who can snap a sword across her thigh, has defeated her training master in single combat, and was the first of her sisters to be elevated to adult status. And she stops dead in the middle of a room, where she's supposed to be working as the queen's bodyguard, so she can go all mushy over mister-hot-and-sexy Caillan. After which she is so mortified she nearly bursts into tears due to embarrassment. Yeah, when she's been raised in an emotionally restrictive society that doesn't permit such outbursts, I don't think so. In fact, she's so overwhelmed by her lust that she doesn't see the assassination attempt on herself coming. She's so pathetically inept that a pair of her fellow bodyguards nearly choke her to death without her putting up the most meager resistance. But not to fear! Caillan to the rescue! If you're going to write wimps then bloody-well write them that way! Don't set up a military character, who's been training in martial arts since she could stand, to be a `damsel in distress' so she can be rescued by the guy that makes her think with her pelvis instead of her brains!
As for the story itself, any female-run organization or planet is corrupt and based on a bunch of back-biting, snarling, b***ching females who spend most of their time degrading everyone around them. The queen of the super-military world walks around half-naked and tries, in proper succubus fashion, to use sex as her only weapon to get what she wants. And, of course, what she wants is galactic conquest based on lies she's telling. Yeah, see that incinerator over there? Women's Lib please step in, the fire is nice and hot! Right after that, Equal Rights make sure you douse yourself thoroughly in that gasoline before heading in. Wouldn't want any remnants left.
I have read some truly disturbing, woman-hating stuff in my life. But never to this extreme. And, though it shouldn't need to be said, by a female author who should know better? Why? It is unnecessary. Women have enough degradation facing them on a daily basis, do we really need to add to that pile?
So, in summation, if you want something that will make a woman feel like a completely useless, self-hating person whose only status comes from the guy she marries and the children she pops out then definitely get this book. If you're a guy who likes to see himself as the super-sexy James Bond meets all-time world athlete then you'll probably like this too because that's what Caillan is all about.
However, if you aren't into that junk (and no there aren't words strong enough to describe this steaming pile of human excrement disguised as a book) then you want to turn elsewhere. I'm pretty sure the only place to go from this is up.