Jan Dorvin, the daughter feminist society leader of Minerva, is trembling. His Mother, the Headwoman, has been busy in preparing the defence against the upcoming Sky Lords. The society can no longer pay for the price they are asking, their grown vegetables and wheat which they desperately need to get past the year. The tax is too high to pay. The yearly tribute day in grain to the Sky Lord Pangloth is approaching. With great effort, and defying their Mother God, they have studied the forbidden man sciences to make gun powder and build rockets that they hope to damage the great vessels that hang on the sky. They are huge, kilometer long sepertines. The earth is increasingly consumed by a mold which makes crops diminish every year. This is their only hope; to rebel, and break down the yoke.
Centuries ago the Gene Wars destroyed much of the earth, and now a blight is ruining the little fertile land left. The villagers rebel but are beaten; the sole survivor, Jan, is taken on the airship as a slave. The Lords are neo-feudal warriors, each clan in control of a massive solar-powered zeppelin, whose technology they no longer master well. Thus begin the jeopardies of Jan, as she is moved from one danger to another, always rescued by a convenient, if not necessarily pleasant savior who is summarily removed before he can interfere with the next cliffhanger. One of slaves that Jan corresponds to in the story is Milo who is one of the few of the ultra-rich people that could afford to buy full treatment: immortality and bio modifications that give him superhuman strength. Milo opens up her eyes to see that the tales about Mother God are product superstition and world is much more than she knew. In order to survive Jan made an agreement with Milo to surrender to his desires. Milo was his only way out and ticket to freedom from the slave ship.
Four (4) stars. Written in 1988 this is the first novel of the Sky Lords Trilogy. The sequels are The War of the Sky Lords (1989) and The Fall of the Sky Lords (1991). The use of feminist movement and modeling a society according to it was a fresh opening view. The thoughts, attitudes and actions of Jan, through feminist education (she prefers women to be her lovers more than men), are well realized. In spite of the young perspective -- Jan is 18 -- her amazon soul is more prepared for unexpected turns, like prostitution in the Sky Ship's High Court, than any other figure. Unfortunately the Milo is made an equal central character to the story for a long time. His relatinship with Jan is being developed, he plans the escape, executes the escape and leads the path towards the ancient city. And then he is abruptly removed: this immortal, almost Deus Ex machina Milo, is crushed by a imbecile, biblical doomsday liturgies spitting, robot. Other than that, the plot takes delectable and unexpected turns and all the major threads are woven throughout. The revelations of how earth become to be, are pours of fountains that are flashed along the plot. The ending is a bit tidy and doesn't leave the reader to wait suspense in the sequel. Other than that, a well rounded read.