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Empire of Dust, by Jacey Bedford
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: DAW
Published: 2014
Review Posted: 4/23/2015
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated

Empire of Dust, by Jacey Bedford

Book Review by Joshua Palmatier

Have you read this book?

This is the debut novel of Jacey Bedford. 

I always try to read debut novels ASAP, since I've been there and know what it's like to have a new book go out into the harsh, harsh world. This is the first of the Psi-Tech novels, and I'm looking forward to the next one.
The premise: Cara Carlinni is a psi-tech who's running from the Alphacorp corporation who technically owns her, since it funded the Telepath technology implanted in her head. Escaping is supposed to be impossible, but she's managed to elude those hunting her and keep the secrets she's stolen from Alphacorp safe . . . and to herself. But they've finally caught up to her, and only the intervention and help of Ben Benjamin, another psi-tech, a Navigator, who takes her to a new colony that supposed to go tech-free . . . and perfect place to hide. Or so they both think.
The main premise is great, and the idea of a future in which there are no governments, only megacorporations running everything, is shockingly easy to believe. And also heartbreaking. The world -- or should I say universe? -- is well thought out and the characters are engaging.  

In particular, I liked the world in which they run to in order to hide, and the backwater way station that they use to get there. Perhaps that's because I like the darker, grittier underside of everything, and that's exactly what the way station is, but I also like the idea of the complete unknown, like the new planet they are helping to colonize. 

Cara and Ben are interesting and they're relationship isn't the standard relationship you'd expect.  It starts out with lies on both sides -- since they both have something to hide -- and awkward sex. It has to recover from both of those before it can grow into something else, and the stress of running, hiding, and the new colony and its rather fractious settlers may not give it the chance to grow.
So, a slightly new take on the relationship makes it interesting. Also the universe in which it's set, and the characters themselves, outside of the their own tumultuous affair. The science is cool and can be played with and used in many different ways, although it does have its limits, which create their own problems. 

The only real issue I had with the book is that the beginning is a little rough and perhaps a touch too long. I can't see any easy way to take what's there and cut it down without adversely affecting everything that comes after, but the book doesn't really kick into high gear until the two characters reach the way station and then the new planet. But I think if you trust me and bear with the book at the beginning, you'll really enjoy what follows.
In any case, as I said, I'm looking forward to the second book coming out later this year called Crossways.  This is definitely a book that I'd suggest sci-fi lovers take a look at.
Joshua Palmatier/Benjamin Tate
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