Tuesday, July 7, 2020

ARC Review: The Vanished Seas by Catherine Asaro

The Vanished Seas
Author: Catherine Asaro
Series: Major Bhaajan (Book 3)
Publication: Baen (July 7, 2020)

Description: MAJOR BHAAJAN RETURNS.  Book three in the Skolian Empire Major Bhaajan series by Catherine Asaro.


Bhaajan grew up in the Undercity, a community hidden in the ruins buried beneath the glittering City of Cries. Caught between the astonishing beauty and crushing poverty of that life, and full by wanderlust, she enlisted in the military. Now retired, Major Bhaajan is a private investigator who solves cases for the House of Majda, a royal family centered in Cries. The powerful elite of the City of Cries are disappearing, and only Bhaajan, who grew up in the Undercity, can find them—if she isn’t murdered first.

My Thoughts: Major Bhaajan's next case has her investigating the disappearance of a woman from a gala where she was set to announce the winning of a major and lucrative contract. Bhaaj was at the gala because her employers - the Majdas - asked her to attend to look for anything suspicious. She is immediately sympathetic toward the woman's bewildered husband and is especially so because another investigator is so certain that he is guilty.

Things heat up when someone tries to kill Bhaaj as she investigates. Bhaaj isn't at all certain that it isn't her employers. But, no matter who wants her dead, Bhaaj isn't going to rest until she figures out what happened to Mara Quida. Things get even more complicated when another woman vanishes in the same way that Mara did. Only this one was an old friend of her employer Colonel Lavinda Majda who is third in line for the Majda throne.

I love the world building in this story which takes place on Raylicon - a dying world with a lack of fresh water and only two cities. The City of Cries is where all the wealthy, powerful, and beautiful live. The Undercity is where Bhaaj is from. The people there have their own culture and language and have little to do with the people from Cries who look down on them. However, it was recently discovered that the people in the Undercity have a much larger percentage of psychic gifts than the general population and those gifts are need to keep the galactic civilization working.

Bhaaj left the Undercity to join the army and then retired back home when her enlistment period was up. She came back with a galactic education, many physical enhancements, and a desire to help the citizens of Undercity survive and flourish in the greater galactic culture.

Her investigation takes her from Cries to the Undercity and out into the desert to the three ships that brought the original settlers from Earth to Raylicon thousands of years in the past and are now a scientific treasure guarded by the army.

An Appendix at the end of the book lets the reader see some of the ways this story and its science grew. Asaro has a Ph.D. in Chemical Physics which means that reading it seemed like magic to this math-challenged reader. The real math and science was no less magical than the science and math in the story. Luckily, readers can enjoy the wonderful, detailed and engaging characters whether or not math is a language they speak.

Favorite Quote:
"I don't believe Mara Quida ran out on him, that he killed her, that someone kidnapped her, or that a guest at the gala ambushed her. So what the bloody hell happened?"

"A good question."

"Somebody somewhere did something," I muttered.

"That was certainly specific." Max sounded amused.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

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