This is the story of Spyridon, an ancient and advanced alien planet, both technologically and culturally. At least, until they are tragically conquered and enslaved. Spyridon’s only hope is the last remaining heir, a woman who grew up on Earth: isolated, misunderstood and without knowledge of her true origin.
Jane Doe is the unlikeliest of heroines, and that is what makes her story perfect. Her struggle is authentic, her reality all too familiar – at least while she’s on Earth. We follow her heartfelt struggle, from suicidal depression to finding her place among her people, and then to become the leader that they need her to be.
Beside her is a close group of well-defined supporting characters, the most important of whom is Mikhel, the stoic and mysterious leader of a small rebel team, tasked with finding her and bringing her home. As Jane blooms, we yearn for Mikhel to shed his defensive isolation and allow himself to fall in love, even as we admire him for his restraint and sense of duty.
This story’s prequel was the only thing I needed to read to know that Spyridon would be fantastic. It instantly set the scene and scale of a space saga, and delivered an origin story to match.
The battle was grim, the movements gauche. All around her, soldiers fell, weapons slipping from lifeless hands. They sank into the blood that pooled on the ground, landed on the bodies that already lay there. The air hung heavy with the stench of burning flesh and the thick, putrid clouds of sulfur and ash. Over the clink of metal and the staccato bursts of weapons, she could hear weeping. And the distant, chilling sound of screams.
When I think of the story line objectively, I realise that it is full of cliches: alien orphaned on Earth, last of a royal bloodline, prophesied to save her people, inherently gifted with powers. Yet, none of that matters. The characters are flawed and unique, the alien culture and technology are meticulously detailed, and the plot is filled with intrigue and suspense.
I can’t help but draw a parallel to Superman, an alien orphan of a doomed race, sent to Earth for safe keeping. Except, where Superman is annoyingly perfect and raised by model parents, Lillian James’ would-be heroine has felt despair and loneliness, making her vulnerable to the point of being heart-wrenching.
The quality of writing is superb throughout and the depth and detail of the alien culture lends a vivid realism that is truly rare.
Her heart was a timpani drum, her hair like the rustle of spider legs against her ears. She swallowed, and the sound was a shotgun in the dark.
From the outset it was clear that the author had a vivid and clear vision of their story, and more importantly the ability to bring it to life. With the depth of detail and delicate character development it was no surprise that this book forms only the first chapter of a longer series, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.