Cover Image: Ocean's Echo

Ocean's Echo

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Member Reviews

I almost enjoyed this more than the first in the series! I really loved the found family group that developed and the layers of their various deceptions. You don't need to have read the first book to read this one, since it takes place about a generation later. For fans of Ancillary Justice, Stars Hide Your Fires, Bonds of Brass, and A Taste of Gold and Iron.
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I could not help but love Tennal, our main character with the "too good for you" attitude whose actually really a softy, My heart instantly reached out to him and his character, Maxwell wrote his as your perfectly good morally grey trouble maker. Now on a more professional note, the crew dynamics present din this science fiction are literally the most realistic I have ever read. Surit reminds me of every young military leader I've ever met, and truly the leaders I've met could take some notes. 

Overall this book was dynamic and lyrically written. It was easily read and understandable, which is outstanding for a science fiction. This book truly rivals Jay Kristoff and Brandon Sanderson's YA Sci-Fi novels. This book is too underrated and I'll be recommending it to anyone who needs a fun and investing read!
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Superb! This romantic sci-fi story is beautifully crafted with deeply compelling and layered characters and an action adventure plot with ever increasing stakes. I found myself wanting more of the romance, even at the end, but that’s largely just because Surit and Tennal are so perfect together. Every scene we get with them is lovely, but I’m greedy for more. 

A truly stellar sophomore novel from Everina Maxwell — I’m anxious for whatever story this author writes next.
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Tennalhin Halkana has always pushed the boundaries, laying on his charm when needed, or just barreling through when that fails. He also has destructive tendencies that he turns mostly on himself, which gets him in quite a bit of trouble. Tennal is the nephew of the powerful legislator and he knows his aunt is looking to bring him in line. What he doesn’t expect is for her to conscript him to the military and assign him to be “synced” with an architect against his will.

Lieutenant Surit Yeni believes in honor, structure, and order. The specter of his mother, who died a traitor in the civil war, looms heavily over Surit and he is determined to be a model soldier. Like his mother, he is an architect, someone who can influence others’ minds. When he is assigned to mentally sync his architect powers with a reader, someone who can perceive other people’s emotions, Surit is wary of creating this permanent mental bond. But he is also willing to do his duty… that is, until he learns that the man he thought was a volunteer is actually being forced into the sync.

Surit is not a man who usually breaks the rules, but his code of honor is rock solid. When he learns the truth about Tennal’s situation, he refuses to initiate the bond that will allow him to control Tennal’s mind and behavior. However, the men know that someone wants this sync to happen, though neither are quite clear why, and so they decide their only option is to fake it and then help Tennal escape to the other side of the galaxy. But there are political forces at work neither man anticipated and, with another civil war on the horizon, they soon find their choices are becoming increasingly limited. As they learn more about true motives behind the maneuvering, it becomes clear that the men are more tied into the conflict than they dreamed. If they have any hope of escaping with their lives, Tennal and Surit need to sync their minds for real. But even as they form the dangerous mental bond, the political situation is becoming more dire and, with Tennal and Surit being used as pawns in someone else’s war, it will take all they have to survive with their minds and their lives.

Ocean’s Echo is the second book in Everina Maxwell’s Winter’s Orbit series, however this story easily works as a standalone. The books are connected by a shared world, but the characters and events of this book are separate from Winter’s Orbit and you can definitely start here. While I enjoyed the first book, this one really blew me away. I found the story to be totally engrossing and, even at close to 500 pages, it kept me thoroughly engaged and eagerly turning pages to follow along with Tennal and Surit’s adventures. The world building is complex and well developed, with not only the concept of architects and readers, but interesting takes on space travel and other futuristic elements that really make the world shine.

This story is really quite an epic saga, divided into multiple parts and moving in such interesting directions. The early part of the story focuses on Tennal being caught by his aunt and shuttled off to a ship about to undergo a recovery mission, where he is supposed to sync with Surit. Here we see the men getting to know one another and figuring out their way forward once Surit learns the truth about Tennal’s situation and Tennal realizes that Surit won’t sync him against his will. It allows the men to become allies and then together face the myriad of challenges that arise as they get caught up in the complex political situation. I don’t want to reveal too much about what happens, as there are a lot of twists and turns here, but I loved the way the story sets things up to get the men on the same team as they work through the challenges. There are a lot of politics and machinations happening at a larger level, and it ties in nicely with the big picture world building. Things get intense and thrilling and, as I said, this is a full on epic saga that is just exciting and fascinating.

With all that is happening around them, Tennal and Surit are the real heart of this story and I just adored them both, individually and together. This isn’t a romance heavy book; I’d say it’s more of a science fiction story with a romance subplot. But Maxwell really makes the connection between the men shine and even as their feelings grow slowly throughout the book, the bond between them and the sense of being a team in the face of all the chaos comes through so clearly. These guys are as different as can be, but complement each other so well. Surit is the model soldier. He follows the rules and enjoys the structure and the process of military life. Surit has a mind that retains almost every piece of information he sees; it is likened to a mental filing cabinet. He has this orderly brain that enables him to think through problems and figure out solutions, even in the most chaotic of messes in which these two find themselves. But for all that he is a rule follower, Surit’s sense of honor is even stronger. So when faced with syncing Tennal against his will, Surit doesn’t think twice about refusing the orders and lying about it. If Surit’s mind is like a file cabinet, Tennal’s is likened to an ocean, flowing all over. He tends to find himself in trouble a lot, mostly because when he feels boxed in, Tennal acts out. He often stirs up trouble just to shake things up, but frequently ends up hurting himself in the process. That said, Tennal is the one who can see outside the box, who can break the mold and figure things out from a totally different perspective. The two are such an interesting pair because their ways of thinking are so different that they end up being a perfect match and their strengths play to one another. I found them a fascinating pair and Maxwell does such a great job creating these interesting characters who form this wonderful team. As I said, this isn’t a romance heavy story, but the men do fall in love over the course of the book. There is a lovely connection between them and the slow build from allies to romantic partners has a great development.

I really loved this book and it kept me so engaged throughout what is quite a long story. Maxwell does a great job combining the world building with the wonderful character development to bring together a really entertaining book. If you enjoy science fiction, Ocean’s Echo is definitely worth your time.
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This book was enjoyable. Everina Maxwell's prose is very engaging, and her characters are always so fun. However, this whole plot felt like a copy/paste of Winter's Orbit. It felt like the same premise with different circumstances. Overall, still a good read, just not as enjoyable as the first.
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I don't know why I liked this one so much more than Winter's Orbit, but I really did enjoy this book. There were a few moments that had me yawning but I think most of the story had amazing build up to a pretty good payout. I wish there was just a bit more romance at the end, but overall I think Maxwell did an amazing job creating an "enemies" to lovers slowburn (enemies in quotes because it was really more just Tennel being annoyed with Surit [also my apologies, as I listened to an audiobook version so I have no clue how to spell ANY of these names and these are my best guesses]).

Definitely recommend if you're into fanfic tropes that are actually done well because the author took her time to flesh out these characters and make me care about them before creating drama and intruige. 3.5/5 but rounded up to 4 because I did really enjoy it and could see myself reaching for it again.
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I really enjoyed reading Winter’s Orbit in 2021. I loved the characters, I found the world generally interesting, and even liked most of the plot. If you liked Winter’s Orbit, I generally think that this will be a win for you too. However, something that should be mentioned is that if you thought the romance in Winter’s Orbit was glacially slow, this one will be even worse for you. If you want a romance centered science fiction, go elsewhere. This one is military science fiction, with a dash of flirty playboy socialite (with some substance abuse issues) and an unimpeachable military officer, who is overly efficient, maybe saying they like each other by the end. So, not romance heavy. Let me shout it to the back: NOT ROMANCE HEAVY! Actually, compared to Winter’s Orbit, there is hardly any romance in this one at all.

Ocean’s Echo expands more on the universe of Winter’s Orbit and the strange alien technology of the remnants that were introduced in the first. It’s politics heavy again, but this one has a different world and the powers that the characters have here are almost psychic based. It was interesting to see how the remnants have been put to use on Orshan as opposed to Iskat, however, the worlds aren’t particularly distinguishable for me as they have a lot of the same universal rules and this one pretty much took place entirely in space. That being said, one of the “universal rules” that I enjoyed about this one and the first is how queer normative the universe is.

We’ve got a mix of sexuality and gender going on here again. In fact, one of the characters is described as “gender irrelevant, maybe fem-aligning.” It made me snort because honestly, that is about how I feel about my gender as well. There are so many queer relationships going on here and it is beautiful and normal. I love myself some queer sci-fi.

I guess if I have to complain, I would like a bit more romance and maybe a bit more editing. I want more romance because I almost always want more romance. I have none in my real life so I need to get all my warm and fuzzies from media consumption. I want a bit more editing because it dragged a bit in certain places and I’m sure that some things could be cut down a bit. I mean, it’s almost 500 pages and generally I don’t think books needs to be that long. There are very few books I have read where I think that everything in it was necessary or enhanced the reading experience somehow.

Anyways, I’m up for whatever comes next with this… not series? I guess they’re a group of companion novels all set in the same world? I don’t know, if you know what to call it drop it in the comments. I greatly enjoyed this. I know it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you liked the first one or if you liked A Taste of Gold and Iron, so you really slow burn readers, you may enjoy this. However, generally, I think readers looking for some fun science fiction with snarky characters and an interesting tech origin will be quite happy as well.
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Book Summary:

Tennalhin Halkana can read minds but only surface thoughts. In society, that makes him a bit of a black sheep – something he's learned to embrace. He's been out in the world, doing his best to avoid his family and the consequences of his actions. Right up until they hit him with the weight of a train, now, he's been forcefully conscripted and faces a forced sync with an architect.

Surit Yeni is the architect in question. While readers like Tennalhin can read minds, architects can influence them. As the son of a traitor general, Surit has worked hard to improve his reputation. As such, he knows every rule and follows them to the T. So it'll come as quite a surprise when he finds a way to bend those rules to protect Tennalhin.

“Society isn't something you can just snap your fingers and change.”

My Review:

Oh wow. I loved Winter's Orbit and have been looking forward to Ocean's Echo. It did not disappoint! For those wondering, while Ocean's Echo is a sequel, there is no requirement to read Winter's Orbit first (though you should read it, you know, for fun).

There is SO MUCH going on in this tale. We have conscription, readers, architects, politics, aliens, and I know I'm forgetting to list about half a dozen things. It's a complicated foundation for what turns out to be one hell of an emotional roller coaster. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

The two perspectives of this tale (Tennalhin and Surit) are so perfect. They're vastly different from one another, but you know what they say, opposites attract. Honestly, I'm not sure I can say that I had a favorite POV – they complement each other perfectly.

Read Ocean's Echo if you're looking for a complex political science fiction novel with aliens and romantic elements. It will not disappoint.

Highlights
LGBT
M/M Romance
Space Opera
Psychic-enhanced space travel
Sequel
Multiple POV

Trigger Warnings:
Drug use
Loss of Autonomy via mind control
Conscription
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I adored Winter’s Orbit, and had extremely high expectations for Ocean’s Echo. I had somehow gotten the idea that this was a sequel to that novel, so I was extremely confused at first. So note to other readers who may also have skipped over the first part of the synopsis - this is a standalone novel set in the same universe, not a sequel! Anyway, I really wasn’t sure how to feel about this one at first, but it really grew on me over time. 

Ocean’s Echo definitely did not go the direction I expected it to go from the beginning few chapters, but the adventures and the politics worked so well together. Maxwell also did an excellent job of changing some key character dynamics a few times, and showing the subsequent impact on relationships (I’m being intentionally vague here for spoilers). I loved seeing how everything changed, or didn’t, in each scenario. 

Tennal and Surit were great protagonists overall, but my favorite scenes always had the two of them together. In regards to the romance, it’s definitely present and shapes the entire story. But there’s also so much more to the story than the romance. There’s quite a lot of action, some intriguing space battles, and a courtroom scene that honestly felt a little like it could have belonged in a Legally Blonde movie in terms of drama. There were a few times where the pacing felt just slightly off to me, but nothing that interfered with my enjoyment of this novel. 

I’d recommend this one if you like your science fictions novels to have a bit of romance, and a lot of military shenanigans. There are also some excellent supporting characters if you like the ragtag group of misfits trope! 

*Disclaimer: I received an advance digital copy of this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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Winter's Orbit is one of my all time favorite books so I could not wait to get my hands on Ocean's Echo. This one had some huge shoes to fill and while I still think I love the original more, I absolutely adored this very unique spin on the fake dating trope. 

Ocean's Echo has an opposites attract, workplace (they happen to work for the military in space) romantic arc that is an extremely slow burn. So much banter, so much pining, so much we want each other but we can't because of REASONS. For me, the pay off wasn't enough for such a slow burn and I think despite the heavy focus on the romantic arc, there wasn't enough romance for me to consider this a sci fi romance. This is, for me, a sci fi story with romantic elements. 

I loved the mystery around the government experiments and the altered humans and their varied abilities. The two main characters were absolutely great together and apart and their rag tag space crew was the gooiest icing on an already fantastic cake. I love gays in space. I love underdogs against the world. I love a found family crew. Everina Maxwell is a phenomenal storyteller and I will read any and everything she writes. My sincerest thanks to Tor for the chance to read and review this one!
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Ocean's Echo is set in the same universe as the author's debut novel Winter's Orbit. It has two very different leads - wealthy, messed up socialite Tennalhin Halkana and duty-bound, scrupulous Lieutenant Surit Yeni. 

Tennal (who can read minds) is conscripted. Surit is assigned to sync with him, which would give Surit total control over him. Surit is unwilling to force a sync, so they fake the bond, looking for a way out. Meanwhile, strong attraction - and trust - grows between them. 

Tennal and Surit do end up with merged minds, but in no way as originally intended. They save each other and  stop a civil war but end up in even more trouble. Don't miss this one!
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This was so much fun! I think anyone who was a fan of Maxwell's previous book, Winter's Orbit, will love this one, and people who had some issues with Winter's Orbit (like myself) will like this one better.

I think my favorite thing about this book is the characters. Both Surit and Tennal feel well-rounded, and I appreciated that they each had their own struggles that they had to work through across the story. I also loved the way their personalities meshed together and the ways they learned to work together in a difficult situation. I also especially appreciated that every time they made bad decisions, I could totally see WHY they made those decisions; it was always clear what their motives were and how their decisions came out of their personalities. Overall, I think the character work here is great.

I also loved the plot of this book. It was very fast-paced and gripping, and it was so hard to put the book down to get other things done. My favorite thing is the way each part slightly changes the status quo, so every time I thought I knew where the story was going, I ended up being surprised. And yet none of it felt like it came from left field. Every time things changed, I could understand why, and that made me really excited to keep reading.

The romance was less overt in this book than in Maxwell's previous book, but I think that worked well here. the romance really emerges from the circumstances of the plot, and I think that if it had been featured more heavily the book might have felt overstuffed. And the romance moments that are present are delightful. 

This has the humor I remember from Winter's Orbit, as well, which I loved. I think Maxwell writes banter really well.

Last, I really liked the world-building here. I think it was solid and the politics and social systems of Orshan were well-explained. It really helped me understand what was at stake for Tennal and Surit as they got involved in the war. I also enjoyed finding out more about the Resolution and remnants. It made the whole book feel well-connected to the larger universe that Maxwell is building.

My only issue with the book was that there were some really interesting themes around identity and personhood that cropped up as a result of the sync between the characters, and I really wanted those to be explored more than they were. However, that certainly didn't stop me from enjoying the book; just a minor personal preference.

I think this book would be great for people who enjoyed the previous book in the series, as well as for people who enjoyed Alexandra Rowland's A Taste of Gold and Iron earlier this year.
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One of my favorites of the year I think. The story surprised me all the way through with just how good it was. It felt more mature than Winter’s Orbit (also recommended) if I’m remembering that one correctly. 
The romance was not necessarily always at the forefront but was still extremely compelling. SF readers should try this one!
I received an ebook arc from NetGalley for review.
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CW: compulsion, mind control, mild substance abuse pertaining to the world

This is a book that has been high up on my tbr since it was announced because Winter’s Orbit was my most favorite romance book of last year and I had high expectations from this one when I realized it was gonna be set in the same world. I’m still trying to compile my thoughts but I think having too many expectations can sometimes be an unnecessary hindrance. 

I started reading this quite a while ago but stopped about a quarter in coz I was just not in the right mood for it and I wanted to love it. And there’s much to enjoy here. It maybe set in the world as it’s predecessor but we are dealing with completely different planets here along with chaotic space and neuromodified individuals called architects and readers - and it was fun to explore these new ideas. But there’s also familiar themes from the first one like forced proximity of the main characters, a planet in flux, possibilities of a coup/ civil war/ revolution, and the antagonists using the alien remnants to alter people’s thoughts and actions. I think there’s a fine line between being familiar and being repetitive, and maybe I found it a tad bit repetitive thematically. But the pacing is super quick and things happen so fast that we don’t even get time to process everything before the characters are thrust into more dangerous situations. And the author is definitely very accomplished at writing characters successfully getting out of tricky situations through their wit and quick thinking. 

The fun characters definitely help. Tennal is a chaotic disaster and I just can’t imagine being in his head. He is actively causing destruction to his own life coz he can’t catch up with his ever spinning thoughts, and is then forcibly conscripted into the military to straighten him out. He is to be brain synced with Surit, a very proper soldier who breathes rules and regulations and just wants a promotion so that he can financially support his parent. They together make for a very satisfying couple because they complement each other almost perfectly. I liked that this is an extremely slow burn romance because there is immense power imbalance in one being able to literally mind control the other, and the author navigates these tricky waters quite well. We also get some interesting side characters and antagonists but definitely loved Istara and Basavi for being so loyal and doing the right thing even when they are in danger. 

While controlling other’s thoughts and compelling them to do things has been a common action of the antagonists across both the novels, the author is also quite subtle in showing us how power - and especially military power - is used to garner more of it, do harm in the name of research or security, and justify it later by force or manipulation. Almost everyone in a position of power feels corrupted in some way here and it’s hard to even take them at their word when they strive to make changes or right their wrongs. And now I’m not sure where I was going with this paragraph 😂😂

In the end, this was an enjoyable slow burn romance with a dose of coup and civil war to spice things up. I have come to appreciate this world the author has created and would love to see more stories set here. However, I don’t know if it was my fault for the high expectations, or maybe this just wasn’t as amazing as Winter’s Orbit. I like Tennal and Surit but Kiem and Jainan will always be special. I would still recommend this book though because it’s still very well written and it’s easy to breeze through in a day or two.
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A stellar read, pun intended! This story pulled me in immediately and I fell in love with these characters.
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3.5 stars rounded up

Ocean's Echo is a standalone sci-fi adventure set in the same world as Winter's Orbit, but it's quite different. This one feels a lot more sci-fi and less romance. And the romance we do get, I wasn't nearly as invested in. It is an interesting expansion of the world- we learn more about the remnants and are introduced to part of the universe where there are powerful neuro-modified people.

Tennal is an impulsive disaster with a politically powerful aunt who doesn't know what to do with him. So she forcibly conscripts him into the military, where he is supposed to psychically sync with Lieutenant Surit Yeni- an orderly man trying to prove himself in the wake of his mother's traitorous rebellion. But things begin to go very wrong and the two are unwittingly pulled into political machinations with serious consequences.

I enjoyed this book, but I didn't love it the way I did Winter's Orbit. The romance isn't as strong, and it's complicated by the power dynamics of the mental sync plot. I also felt like it was a bit too long in the final third. I breezed through Winter's Orbit, but felt more of a lag toward the later part of this one. Still, a solid second novel and I look forward to reading more from Maxwell in the future. I received an advance copy of this book for review from the publisher, all opinions are my own.
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I spent most of the book with a feeling of deja vu because I couldn't quite remember what I learned from this universe in Winter's Orbit but I think it enhanced the experience and helped me vibe along. The romance content is very low but the connection built between Tennel and Surit is incredible and felt very real. They learn to trust each other and become each other's person! And the lack of romance is made up for with the mind syncing. Very slow burn but very emotional deep. And the setting! Parts of the story felt alarmingly wide and other parts felt enclosed and intimate. And the characters! Everyone was fully fleshed out and important to the story.

In short, very plot heavy space book with vague romantic undercurrents but a lot of emotional depth and excellent character work. In shorter, good space book everyone should read.
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So this was in the same universe as Winter's Orbit (which I loved) but that's where the similarities seemingly end.  There's a vast planetary system here and there weren't any cameos or locations that I remembered from the first book.

Still. This was a military fake dating/fake soul bond story with no sex.  Normally, these are not huge turn ons for me but I really liked this.  Tennal is kind of a hot mess who gets conscripted into the army against his will.  Surit is the straight-laced rule follower that gets paired with him for a specialized program that I'm not going to get into in this review.  They are about as opposite as they can be which is honestly catnip for me.

Thank you to Tor and Netgalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.
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I don't think I can adequately describe how much I loved Ocean's Echo. I spent every second away from this book itching to pick it up again. After loving Winter's Orbit, I was incredibly excited to start this and it blew me away. 

Though the romance is a subplot, it is one of my favorite romance plots I have read all year. Surit and Tennal's relationship is a fascinating study of what it means to be known and understood. Tennal describes himself as "too much" and is incredibly self-critical throughout the entire book. And he is a chaotic disaster in many ways. But he is also sharp and brilliant with a mind for strategy. His character reminded me of Velasin from A Strange and Stubborn Endurance<. It was incredible to watch him grow and heal as a character throughout the book. 

Reading about Tennal from Surit's perspective honestly brought tears to my eyes. There is something incredibly powerful about how this book depicts what it means to be known both for the parts of you that are good and for the parts of you that are messed up or undesirable. And to be loved for all of that, not despite your flaws, but including your flaws. 

Surit and Tennal understand each other when no one else in their lives has cared to understand them. I am in love with how Surit describes Tennal throughout the book. Though the romance is definitely a subplot, the story of acceptance and love was incredibly powerful and it will stick with me for a very long time. Surit reminded me a lot of Evemer from A Taste of Gold and Iron and I would highly recommend Ocean's Echo to fans of both ASASE and ATOGAI. 

I am obsessed with the relationship dynamic, but I loved the rest of the story as well. Ocean's Echo is a fascinating story filled with political conflict and scheming. It is always fun to follow a character like Tennal who would happily stay out of all of the conflict and is instead dragged into the center of it. There were also really interesting conversations about duty, authority, and power. The descriptions of space were incredible. This is the first SciFi book to make me stop and contemplate the nature of space itself. The magic/tech system of the readers and architects was incredibly interesting and created a very engaging setup for the plot. 

If I had to mention one critique it would be that the ending dragged on a bit too long. I was fully invested in the story so I didn't mind, but there were a few repetitive events that broke the fast pace of the story. 

Ocean's Echo is a story of healing and growth and a love that will shake the universe. This is easily a new favorite book and will likely be in my top ten reads of 2022.
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A fun boy meets boy space romp, in which Tennalhin, the bratty party-boy nephew of his powerful Aunt legislator who leads a Galactic base, gets sent off as punishment to a military spaceship exploring uncharted “chaotic” space. Tennalhin’s a strong “reader” able to dive into the minds of those around him, which causes him and all readers to be feared. And Tennalhin has used his reading skills illegally one too many times.   

Surit, a young “architect” who’s just out of academy, is military overachiever assigned to oversee Tennal. Architects have the ability to issue commands that control readers, with the ultimate control being an mind sync that creates an unreversible, lifetime mind meld. Surit, ambitious but of a strong moral conscience, refuses to sync when he realizes that Tennal’s been conscripted into the military against his will and given drugs to make him vulnerable to a mind sync. 

Adventure and mayhem follow- and the surprising build of affection of Surit who seems confounded to find himself at all attracted to Tennal. Together, they unravel the twisty power plays and revolutions fomenting around them and glean insights into the  mysteries of how the readers and architects got created in the first place. And it all rolls up in an unexpectedly build of loyalty and love. 

Thanks to Macmillan Tor Forge and Netgalley for an advanced reader’s copy.
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