by R. S. A. Garcia
This is a fast-paced, science fiction action-thriller. It’s meaty in more ways than one: 324 pages of skiffy goodness with excellent characters, intrigue, aliens, and a whirlwind plot.
In summary, a young woman is brought to a hospital in very serious condition, found after being mugged by an alien in an off-world alley but she’d been worked over by several men before that. She dies on the table. But a small and different alien which had been brought to the same hospital by his temporary keeper jumps on her and it does something, bringing her back to life. As the layers of her trauma unfold and her memories return, little clues are dropped in small excepts quoted at the heads of the chapters. Her returning memories are of genetic secrets and love and betrayal, and war. The pull of this book is the mystery, and the protagonist is a very believable unreliable narrator. You’re as breathless as she is when some of the dots connect. The numerous plot reversals, when they hit, are sometimes foreshadowed but often swift and hard.
This is a book with, eventually, a great deal of graphic violence, which drives the plot so it’s not gratuitous but if you don’t like that sort of thing. . . be warned. It also involves graphic rape(s) but rather than using that as a “let’s feel sorry for the poor female victim” ploy, this is a very strong woman who is subdued by treachery. So when she gets free, readers are treated to being with her when she pretty much nukes the bastards, and not from orbit, so she suffers a bit as well. And if you love hand-to hand combat there is a particularly affecting set of scenes where you’re watching two simultaneous fight scenes on different planets knitted together into a smooth whole that is greater than the sum of its parts that you simply must read.
Lex Talionis is Latin for “The Law of Retaliation,” used by her society to mean the ancient eye-for-an-eye sort of justice that hinges on revenge. The revenge has layers, too. And the for the next layer, where R. S. A Garcia ups the stakes, you’ll have to read the next book in the series.