Review: 'Rose Point' and 'Laisrathera', by M. C. A. Hogarth
These are books 2 and 3 of M.C.A. Hogarth’s Her Instruments space opera trilogy. Earthrise, book 1, was reviewed in Flayrah in June 2013.
The fact that Maggie Hogarth commissioned professional s-f cover artist Julie Dillon to paint the covers of this trilogy instead of doing their covers herself, as she usually does for her books, shows that Hogarth considers them especially good (or at least especially salable). And you know how good her fiction usually is.
Rose Point, by M. C. A. Hogarth, Tampa, FL, Studio MCAH, October 2013, trade paperback $16.99 (349 [+1] pages), Kindle $5.99.
Laisrathera, by M. C. A. Hogarth, Tampa, FL, Studio MCAH, May 2014, trade paperback $16.99 (402 pages), Kindle $5.99.
Earthrise, set in Hogarth’s 25th-century interstellar universe of humans, the Pelted bioengineered human-animal peoples, plus entirely alien species, introduces merchant spaceship captain Theresa Eddings and her ship, the Earthrise. To quote from the earlier review:
Reese Eddings [see the cover by Julie Dillon] is the human captain of the TMS Earthrise, a ‘rattletrap merchant vessel’ that has been barely breaking even in United Alliance space. Six years ago, Reese was facing bankruptcy and the loss of her ship when a Mysterious Benefactor offered to cover her debts in return for a favor someday in the future. Reese has not been any more successful since then, and she has been dreading the return of that benefactor. When the latter does return, though, she does not want the money repaid, but for Reese and the Earthrise to rescue an “investigator” imprisoned on a non-Alliance planet, before he can be sold into slavery.
The agent is an Eldritch.
In addition to a space opera, as the cover implies, Earthrise is a romance. Reese fights furiously in all senses of that word to remain independent, as a tramp spaceship captain and as a woman; but from the moment that Hirianthial comes on stage, the reader knows that he and Reese are destined to Become One.
When Maggie Hogarth published Earthrise, she sent a note that it might not be appropriate for review in Flayrah because it wasn’t furry enough. Reese Eddings was a Martian human, and the Eldritch look like tall, albino humans. Yes, but the crew of Reese’s “rattletrap merchant vessel” were mostly very furry Pelted races, and there were plenty of Pelted background characters throughout her 25th-century galactic setting. There was no problem as far as appropriateness to Flayrah was concerned.
In Earthrise, Reese and the Earthrise venture outside United Alliance space to rescue the handsome “Space Elf”, Hirianthial Sarel Jisiensire. They do, and escape in a running battle with space pirates. Due to the telepathic but mysterious Eldritch being paranoid about allowing any non-Eldritch to visit their planet, they cannot take Hirianthial home, so they are forced to add him to their crew as supercargo. By this time, it is obvious to Reese and the reader alike that her Mysterious Benefactor is the Eldritch Queen. There are new adventures throughout the United Alliance, some featuring the furry Pelted prominently. Earthrise ends with the line:
"After that… who knows? I guess we’ll go wherever sounds most interesting."
Rose Point consists of three adventures of about ninety pages each. During the first, the telepathic Hirianthial begins to exhibit new mind powers beyond those of the other Eldritch. While this helps Reese and her crew to escape from that adventure, Hirianthial fears that his new powers may unintentionally endanger them. He desperately needs training and help that only are available on his home world. Reese finally gets permission from Queen Liolesa to bring him there. The Earthrise will be almost the first non-Eldritch to see their world; a never-expected, “once in a lifetime” opportunity for Reese and her crew.
Laisrathera brings them to the legendarily beautiful Eldritch homeworld just in time for a full-scale war. The planet has been betrayed to the Eldritch’s enemies, and Liolesa and her court have been forced to flee offworld by the invaders and their native quisling figurehead. The enemy include the space pirates that the Earthrise have been running into ever since Reese and her crew rescued Hirianthial in the first novel of the trilogy, plus dragons! Most of the Earthrise’s crew are already on the Eldritch world to help the loyal underground there.
It was not in him [Hirianthial] to argue. If she [Liolesa] was right and they were leaving soon, he needed all the rest he could have now … because when they left for home again, there would be nothing between him and Theresa but the bodies of their enemies, and he fully vowed to be the one to slay them all. (p. 8)
Yep, it’s a star-crossed romantic space opera, featuring a poor human from Mars and an incredibly handsome, rich, and powerful all-but-human Space Elf. But the others!
The Earthrise’s crowded bridge did not allow for many crew, and Kis’eh’t’s centauroid body took up more than one person’s share; she kept her paws tucked close and eschewed the chair someone else might have used at the sensor station. (RP p. 1)
The alien’s neural fur turned a bright, cheery yellow. She smiled and petted him – it, technically, but she’d never been able to think of Allakazam as an it – and said, "We’re going up, slowly. But I don’t want to blow it. It would be easy to end up poor again." (RP p. 3)
"This is a pretty strange idea of 'happy to see us,'" Sascha opined as he followed her down the deserted lane in the middle of town. The tigraine had his shoulders hunched and his hands in his pockets, and his tail was low and twitchy. (RP p. 4)
Reese was about to ask if he’d sensed something but, no, there was someone stepping out of the house there: a Hinichi wolfine in a long shift, the fabric thin enough to show a silhouette of his lanky body. He was padding toward them now, so Reese stopped to let him approach. He was smiling, at least, and his ears were perked. (RP p.5)
She stopped at the sight of a Tam-illee foxine waiting expectantly at the threshold, wearing a bright smile, perked ears, and a dark blue uniform piped in silver that looked a lot like livery but from no association Reese recognized. (RP p.93)
He was therefore surprised to be stopped by Bryer in the corridor, something the Phoenix accomplished by stretching a hand to rest on the opposite wall and splaying the metallic wing that lined the arm, blocking the way. With his body bent toward Hirianthial, he looked very much like the hunter he’d been modeled on: part avian dinosaur, part bird of prey, all long beak and large, whiteless eyes in a crested head. (RP pgs. 101-102)
All three books of Her Instruments are full of the variety of Hogarth’s bioengineered Pelted peoples. There are enough tails, furs of various thicknesses and patterns, mobile pointed ears and different physiques to satisfy all furry fans, even if the main characters are (or look) human. Of course, it helps to like both space-opera science fiction, and women’s romances.
Remember, this is a trilogy; or more accurately, a single novel in three volumes, like Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. You have to read all three, and in the proper order. Earthrise, then Rose Point, and finally Laisrathera.