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Burning Space is the final book of The Edinön Trilogy. It is sci-fi/fantasy/romance geared toward an audience aged 14 and up. Since the characters are more mature in book 3, however, the content is more mature than in previous books, so ages 16 and up may be more appropriate.
–SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS–
This excerpt is from CHAPTER 1 of Burning Space, narrated by Juan. My commentary is at the very end, so keep reading if you would like to know more about the featured scene from the author’s perspective.
Juan: The Hero
“I heard the gods are currently electing a monarch to unite the 27 kingdoms and end the War,” Ento remarks, swallowing a jera fruit whole.
Oh, interesting. It’s not often I have the chance to tune into political conversations. The War Ento mentioned is the same war that began when the gods left a millennium ago in pursuit of Death and Hope. I have seen some of the damage left by the War… Armies of thousands are fighting every day. Still, in a world where the population is eleven billion and still growing thanks to the affordability of spaceships and slaves, the death toll barely leaves a mark on the world. The real conflict is subtle, nearly invisible. And potentially catastrophic.
When the gods returned a decade ago, the world did not know how to react. They feared the gods would assume control or slaughter them all. After a thousand years, they had begun to believe the gods were myths. Very few left on Bynivul still dedicated their lives to them as they were… rather than the twisted versions conjured by word of mouth over centuries.
The world changed rapidly in the wake of their return. New religions popped up out of the dust. Cities and countries became more organized. The general hierarchy was altered to include the Immortal Bloodlines at the head. World leaders met peacefully for the first time in forever to discuss how they would move forward. Still, the gods’ presence did not stop the ongoing battles, the political turmoil, nor the interstellar conflict. Rather, the gods’ return encouraged the exchange of slaves, the number of which has nearly doubled in ten years. The number of death sentences passed to imperfect people has increased since the beauty standard was set by the likes of Appetite and Love.
So clearly there is room for improvement.
“Not electing,” Lidret says. A red-skinned slave pops a piece of green meat into his mouth. “The monarch was chosen before our return. She has simply been undergoing some training before her coronation on the Day of Peace.”
I sip my drink, a fruity concoction with a minty aftertaste.
“Is she mortal?” Weida asks.
“No, she is one of us.” Lidret smiles.
I accidentally inhale my drink and retreat from the cushion to cough into my elbow until my lungs are clear of the liquid. When I return a moment later, my face is undoubtedly flushed, and I might be a little teary-eyed. I wipe my eyes and apologize. Thankfully, I am ignored.
Lidret is thinking of her. The monarch. He hasn’t seen her, but he knows her name. Or, what she is to be called. The room temperature ratchets up thirty degrees as my train of thought derails into territory it hasn’t explored since the cleansing ritual on Time’s ship. I cough one more time, forcing myself to remain neutral.
“How will this monarch end the War?” another man beside Weida asks, scratching his ear as he tastes a powdery pastry.
“She will reestablish the power structure we had before the War,” Lidret replies. “One Immortal is absolute ruler over all while the rest of the Immortals rule separate kingdoms on Bynivul.”
“Directly?” Ento says. “Will the gods rule on the planet’s surface?”
Lidret flicks his nose, meaning ‘yes.’ “Why do you think these palaces were constructed?”
Ento licks his lips. “Who is this monarch? Love? Conscience? Or is it… Appetite?”
“She is none of the above. I suspect even my sister is envious of her beauty. She often takes her form when she visits Bynivul.”
Weida looks at me. “Aun, you look unwell. Something wrong?”
I shake my head.
There is only one woman in the universe whose physical attractiveness could spark envy in the Goddess of Beauty.
I eye the stalls near the exit. “Please excuse me.”
Ten+ years have passed since Juan and Kandi were abducted by Time and the other Adönen. Juan hasn’t seen or heard from Kandi the entire time he has been a slave on an alien world. Finally, he has the chance to overhear a conversation between his handler and his owner’s brother, and rumor surfaces that a goddess more beautiful than the Goddess of Beauty will be crowned monarch of the galaxy. To Juan, it’s obvious that the heiress to the galaxy is Kandi, and he doesn’t know how to process this information. Is she the same as the last time he saw her? What sort of torture did she have to endure before she agreed to be crowned by her inferiors? Will she be able to save him? Willhe be able to save her?
Along with these questions come flashbacks of conversations with Kandi, and an admission to himself that he has not been able to forget her face since they were forced apart. The feelings he suppressed for over a decade are still there — feelings of love, resentment, bitterness, and sorrow. But, finally, there is hope. Kandi is alive. Of course she isn’t dead. Once she is crowned, he thinks, there is a chance he will be able to rescue her from Time. He can only pray that she’ll want to be saved.