Book Reviews

Skythane (Oberon Cycle 1) by J. Scott Coatsworth at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Science Fiction / Other Planets / Psychic Powers / Romance / Action/Adventure
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 30-January-2018

Book Blurb

Jameson Havercamp, a psych from a conservative religious colony, has come to Oberon—unique among the Common Worlds—in search of a rare substance called pith. He’s guided through the wilds on his quest by Xander Kinnson, a handsome, cocky skythane with a troubled past.

 

Neither knows that Oberon is facing imminent destruction. Even as the world starts to fall apart around them, they have no idea what’s coming—or the bond that will develop between them as they race to avert a cataclysm.

 

Together, they will journey to uncover the secrets of this strange and singular world, even as it takes them beyond the bounds of reality itself to discover what truly binds them together.

 

Book Review

‘Skythane’ is the exciting opening novel to what looks to be a fascinating series set in the future around the year 3000 or so, as far as I can determine. Oberon is a pretty unique world – it is split into two halves, with its other side hidden in some mysterious parallel universe. This has all sorts of consequences for the planetary ecology, and it was fascinating to find out more details about this well-developed world as the story developed. But solar flares signal a potential catastrophe, one that occurs every 750 years or so, and this time the event might just mean the end of this planet. As if that were not enough, there is an addictive substance called pith, drug smugglers and corporate interests battling for supremacy, and a cultural war between the skythane and the landers. Skythane are descendants of the first wave of human colonization, who genetically engineered themselves to have wings and can fly. The second wave of human settlers are called landers and they despise the skythane. No, that doesn’t really make sense, but racism never does, no matter what millennium it happens in.

As you can see, this world offers a rich setting, and one that expands all the time as the characters discover more of their environment and their history. The people populating this story are just as varied as the world they live in, but much of the detail only emerges slowly. Following Xander and Jameson’s adventures was a great way for me to get to know them and the threats they face as the plot pulled me in deeper and deeper. The supporting characters are just as interesting, especially the mysterious Quince who seems to know more than she will let on, doesn’t give the men more than a few hints, and constantly seems to manipulate them for her own benefit. Or maybe not? Morgan, a mysterious boy with odd abilities is another intriguing addition to the band of travelers. Both Quince and Morgan are riddles you will have to solve by reading this fascinating story yourself.

Jameson is completely out of his depth as soon as he sets foot on Oberon. He is from a homophobic, conservative religious background and thinks he has an exciting assignment as psych (read: psychologist) to look forward to, only to discover that he is part of some unknown plan to save Oberon. Xander is a skythane with a troubled past, has been abused before his now-vanished lover saved him, and while he thinks he knows what is going on, he very quickly discovers he does not have a clue. Complete opposites in many ways, the men are attracted to each other but between Jameson’s denial (he “can’t” be gay and is engaged to a woman on his home planet) and Xander’s overconfidence, they do not have an easy start.

Their journey across Oberon and far beyond is breathtaking. Many details, both about the world they see and the history they apparently share, make the quest interesting, and the continuing mystery as to what is really going on is well written. The characters change and grow as they travel, and while there is a sort of “breathing space” at the end of this first book, it is also clear there must be much more to come. I am looking forward to finding out more – my curiosity has been tickled and I am greedy for the details of what is next for Jameson and Xander.

If you like imaginative science fiction set on worlds that are as unusual as they are fascinating, if you want to watch two men from entirely different backgrounds discover they have way more in common than they could have ever imagined, and if you’re looking for a read that is action-packed, suspenseful, entertaining, and thought-provoking, then you will probably like this novel. I can’t wait for the next installment in this grand adventure!

 

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 244 pages/84904 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 17-February-2017
Price $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback, $14.99 bundle
Buy Link https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/skythane-by-j-scott-coatsworth-8154-b