In the opening paragraphs we are introduced to Taterra, who joined the Lioness Project in her sixties and who is careful to remind herself that she chose to be here on “this horrible backwards moon”. With quick, skilful sentences Dworsky fills us in on Taterra’s character and background, and by the time she drops the line “Taterra was not his girl. She was not anyone’s girl; Taterra had tenure”, I am utterly sold. Taterra might not be anyone’s girl, but I’m totally Taterra’s girl. (Later on I find out she likes Argentinian malbecs, and I am further convinced that Taterra is who I want to be when I grow up.)
Taterra’s assignment on Hecate III, an old prison moon, isn’t exactly first-contact, but it is “first-in-a-long-time contact”, and Taterra is there to observe and gather data, as any good anthropologist and social scientist would. But of course she cannot only observe, and the way in which Taterra gets sucked into the court life on Hecate III, how her guise as mystic and seer shapes and changes the future of the royal family and the entire colony, how her prophesies come true, is gripping and fascinating. It’s not just a story of science and magic, it’s a story of how wanting something can make it happen, how belief in magic creates magic itself, and how the birth of a girl-prince can change everything. I loved it.
One warning for those who wish to avoid it: The story features underage marriage, and death in childbirth.