Happy, happy book birthday to Tessa Elwood whose fabulous debut, Inherit the Stars, hits shelves today!
Fane is out of fuel and food and it's only a matter of time before their enemies learn of their weakness. An alternative to the commonly used Uleum has been developed but early manufacturing in Fane caused massive and fast spreading Blight that contaminated both the land and food supplies, making a bad situation even worse.
Asa, the youngest Fane daughter, was on Urnath with her sister Wren, the Fane heir, when riots broke out over suspected food hoarding. Wren was critically injured and it was all Asa could do to get her off planet and to safety. But Asa's attempt at rescue may ultimately be the cause of Wren's demise.
Six months after the attack Ecoflux has been deemed safe, which means new hope for the people of Fane but food shortages remain a constant issue - in other words, the two systems and twenty-six planets that make up the Fane empire might well starve or come under attack before seeing their revolutionary new fuel alternative come to fruition. Lord Fane has devised a plan to save their empire but it requires bonding his own heir with that of Westlet. Unfortunately Wren remains comatose with no signs of waking, leaving Emmie - the middle Fane child - next in line and Asa fears this will mean Wren's end. So the youngest Fane sets out with her own plan, one that involves bonding herself to the Westlet heir instead. It's an act that could be catastrophic for their system but Asa is confident she can make it work - saving both Wren and Fane.
Whew, that's a lot to get down for a synopsis! So in her debut, Elwood has built a world consisting of three ruling families: Fane, Westlet, and Galton - in that order of strength. Uleum is the fuel used throughout their world but it has to be extracted directly from a planet's core, not something any planet in this world can survive. It's a finite resource and one that we soon learn Galton is willing to take forcefully.
Lord Fane and his daughter Wren have been working on an alternative fuel they call Ecoflux but issues with its manufacturing have had devastating results, leaving Fane weakened and a potential target. But - as we learn in the book - there's one thing keeping the wolves at bay: a lockdown that prevents any news from getting off of Fane. And it's been going on for over a decade when this story takes place.
So you can see that things are not looking good for Fane at all.
Elwood risked quite a lot with such a broad and unique world but I also thought it was a risk that paid off. At first, I really feared this was a world I'd never be able to settle into or fully understand but by the time the book started to reach its end I realized this wasn't the case at all. The intricacies of the world and its politics were neatly woven into the plot. There's a lot of action and the story moves along at a fantastic pace. What's more, there's great character development.
Asa is a fabulous heroine! She's strong, brave, and incredibly loyal - both to her family and her people. And while her decisions are somewhat spur of the moment, her motives are quite admirable. Wren, we think, has stood by her as a steadfast supporter but now it's Asa's turn to protect her big sister and that's where much of the plot of Inherit the Stars begins. (I say we think because we only get her character via Asa.)
There is a romance element but it takes something of a backseat to the rest of the plot in this first outing. In fact, it sort of builds quietly in the background of the story. I have to say, though, that I really loved the way the relationship played out and thought it was quite natural to the tale.
Inherit the Stars is apparently the first in a series, which means there are quite a few things that aren't totally wrapped up by the end. I'm hooked, though. Completely. I can't wait to see more of this world and more from Elwood!