Synopsis: When three asteroid miners heard the distress signal they had to help, but what they found in the escape pod was a little girl… with a unicorn horn. Taking her in to the officials proved disastrous as bureaucrats wanted to remove her “deformity” and scientists wanted to study her and collectors want to own such rarity, so the three men escaped with Acorna only to face more controversy and danger.
Authors: Anne McCaffrey is one of the most well known sci-fi authors and her work will keep her alive in the hearts of many for years to come. Before her death in November of 2011, Anne had won many prestigious awards for her works –including being the first woman to win the Hugo. Partway through her career, Anne started co-writing with up-and-coming authors to help build their careers, including her own son.
Cover: It is the artwork that convinced me to pick up my first science-fiction novel as, being the girlish lover of the mythical and magical I am, finding a novel with a lonely unicorn girl piqued my interest.
Writing Style: There is no obvious humour in this book, merely some situations that could be considered somewhat amusing while being portrayed in a serious manner. The story won’t make you laugh out loud, but you could be caught snickering.
Pacing: The story flows in a slow-but-steady manner, with moments of excitement. The less-adventurous scenes are necessary to the plot, though they occasionally drag. This is more of an intellectual adventure, than one filled with explosions and space-chases.
Location: This novel is set in space, very far from the planet earth as it is at the edge of the universe. The main planet of this novel is Kezdet, a place that uses child-slave labour in its factories.
Plot: While completely illogical in the real world, the story creates a world that allows what does happen to be a completely reasonable unfolding of events. Everything that occurs manages to be interwoven and thus builds into the climax.
Character Development: This is a coming of age tale for Acorna who was found as a babe in arms and raised into the status of a young adult by the book’s end. While the aging of the unicorn girl is quite quickly done in 250 pages, it is portrayed rather well with the child going from a saved foundling to a saviour of foundlings.
Romance/Relationship: The romantic element is mostly in passing with one of the prospectors falling for a woman named Judit, and Judit’s brother Pal showing some interest in Acorna. The main source of love is that of the three “uncles” showing their love for the little girl they adopted as they raise her.
Unfulfilled Promise: While the book is part of a larger series, as a stand-alone novel there is one subplot that is left unfinished. The search for Acorna’s family has begun, but at this time Acorna is without answers. While it leaves a plot to be woven into the future of the series, it also leaves the reader impatiently hanging.
Quote: “The appearance of a ki-lin among humans is an omen of great change for the better or of the birth of a great ruler.”
The Verdict: This is not the first nor the second time I have read this novel, but rather it is a series I keep coming back to. It is an enjoyable balance of alien-invasions, sense of family, romance, and intrigue. I have before and will still recommend these books to readers.