The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley

The Blurb On The Back:

Somewhere on the outer rim of the universe, a mass of decaying world-ships known as the Legion is travelling in the seams between the stars. Here in the darkness, a war for control of the Legion has been waged for generations, with no clear resolution.

As worlds continue to die, a desperate plan is put into motion.

Zan wakes with no memory, prisoner of a people who say they are her family. She is told she is their salvation – the only person capable of boarding the Makshi, a world-ship with the power to leave the Legion. But Zan’s new family is not the only one desperate to gain control of the prized ship. Zan finds that she must choose sides in a genocidal campaign that will take her from the edges of the Legion’s gravity well to the very belly of the world.

Zan will soon learn that she carries the seeds of the Legion’s destruction – and its possible salvation. But can she and the band of cast-off followers she has gathered survive the horrors of the Legion and its people long enough to deliver it?

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

When Zan wakes up in a strange room on a strange ship, all she remembers is that she once threw away a child. Jayd, her sister, tells her that she’s on the Katazyrna, a world ship under the control of Lord Anan who wants Zan to take over a rival world ship, the Mokshi, because she’s the only one who can get through its defences. Both the Mokshi and Katazyma are part of the Legion, a collection of world ships orbiting a star, and the world ships are decaying, reliant on petty wars amid themselves to salvage and recycle parts ad people from each other to keep themselves going. But Zan and Jayd have a plan that can save them all provided that Zan doesn’t start to regain her memories …

Kameron Hurley’s standalone SF novel is an all-female-character tour de force with imaginative world-building and a twisting plot filled with deception and betrayal and although I felt that some of the supporting characters were a little under-baked (notably antagonists Rasida and Anan), the novel nevertheless kept me engrossed from beginning to end.

Integral to the story is the relationship between Zan and Jayd, which I found absolutely fascinating because there’s a core uncertainty as to where Zan can trust Jayd and what she’s been told. The slow way in which Zan starts to regain her memories adds to the tension, as do the revelations of Jayd’s deceptions (and I particularly liked how you are kept wondering about her from beginning to end).

The world building in this book is also strong and I loved the idea of space ships as biological entities and Hurley does a great job of showing the effects of time and space on the same and while I liked how Hurley explores the different stratas within Katazyma and how the various societies have little knowledge of those supposedly in control. However I found the characters of Das Muni, Casamir and Arankadash underdeveloped – there to serve the plot rather than to enhance it – and both Anat and Rasida failed to rise off the page enough off to be as effective antagonists as they could be.

That said I found myself gripped by this book because it’s so rare to read an all-female character book, let alone a book with lesbian relationships at the heart of it – and I will definitely check out Hurley’s other work.

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