Guy Erma and the Son of Empire by Sally Ann Melia

In this science fiction novel, Guy Erma yearns to join the planetary protection force known as the Dome Elite, while the Prince of Freyne, Teodor, finds himself the hostage of militant borgs, needing to plead his case to a politician if he wants to survive, the two protagonists’ paths ultimately crossing. The prologue introduces the thirty-one-year-old albino shapeshifting Zaracan warrior, Captain Karl Valvanchi, whose vessel, the Mezzatorra, protected by a literal firewall, faces an attack by the Sas Darona Liberation Army (SDLA), the planet of Sas Darona being a disputed planet by two entities, the Zaracan Democratic Union and the Freyne Empire, and which yields a resource known as monazite, critical in the creation of space magnets. Cyberkinetic insects, or cy-sects, threaten the native tribes of the planet with a plague that is said to keep them primitive.

The main story begins with Prince Teodor “Teo” of Freyne feeling threatened, with is father the King recently deceased. Teo meets with one of Captain Valvanchi’s relatives, Princess Simonelle Valvanchi, the great-granddaughter of a famous intergalactic explorer, proving to be a prospective mate to the Prince, who is the last living heir to the throne of the planet Freyne 2 and the Empire of Freyne as a whole, with his uncle being the current Emperor. An event known as the Magnolia Weekend is forthcoming, with one of its features being the Magnolia Stakes, a race among the feline creatures known as gorans, with Teo and his uncle having their own separate members of the species competing in the race.

Guy Erma receives his introduction next, seeing good luck in a special medallion, and participates in a sport known as blades under the tutelage of senior blades instructor and Commander of the Dome Elite Tilson. Guy has recently applied to become a member of the Dome Elite, and doesn’t know what became of his parents. Guy is scheduled to fight Prince Teo, although Teo has an injury supposedly preventing him from participating. Guy lives on Old Mill Lane in the House Jewel townhouse among forty-three others he considers siblings, even if they aren’t blood relations, with these folk primarily participating in the trade of tailoring clothes. Guy is ultimately offered to a fast track towards in the Dome Elite by a politician, Chart Segat.

Evidently Teo’s living mother, the Regent Sayginn cancelled his scheduled blades fight with Guy so that the Prince could participate in singing in a cathedral choir, with an attack on the church kidnapping him. The novel has two interludes, one occurring early and the other occurring towards the book’s end, known as diplomatic exchanges among, members of the Valvanchi family relating to the plague on Sas Darona. A Dome Debate, basically an election, is forthcoming, with the Emperor mulling marriage to Sayginn in hopes of having a son so that his nephew Teodor doesn’t inherit the throne, the Prince hoping he can escape his captivity.

The events of the novel take place over the course of three days, with the author doing for the most part a masterful job with the parallel plots of Guy Erma and Prince Teodor, the writer further doing an excellent job of world-building, given the many terms native to the book, which a glossary after the main text clarifies, with this reader only needing to see a definition of the acronym SDLA, not defined in the main text. There are some minor areas where the story could have been better, for instance the title of a royal heir “Son of Empire” would have sounded better as “Son of the Empire,” but otherwise, this science fiction novel is highly recommended, with this reader consequentially interested in the author’s other works and possible sequels.

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