(Greenshift is a prequel to Ambasadora Book 1: Marked by Light, with events occurring one month before Book 1.)
Having read Marked by Light, I slid easily into Greenshift, remembering the character names and their personalities. As one who actively seeks out books where the action starts on page one, I wasn’t disappointed. The book opens with a tense standoff between the captain of a gunship, David Anlow; a civilian ship; orders from a superior officer that are contrary to David’s instincts; and an old flame who decides to commit mutiny. Action, suspense, and betrayal. It hit all my buttons.
The book then shifts to a young woman being trafficked to a misogynist psychopath who tortures women with golden-orange eyes. This scene foreshadows the imagined fate of the book’s heroine, Boston Maribu, or Mari, and sets up a visceral reaction within the reader, enticing them to tease out the book’s plot and figure out how it gets there. The pace then slows as the relationship between David and Mari develops. It’s a sweet and fulfilling journey as Miller fleshes out the characters’ backgrounds and motives, threading the branches of circumstance and desire that blossom into love. David and Mari’s strong personalities burn through the pages and it’s easy to see their relationship as believable, passionate, and enduring.
The seeds of Mari’s troubles are sown when she accepts a job as a botanist on board a freighter. Too late David learns about the true occupation of the man who employs Mari, and she is whisked away as he is about to retrieve her. Cue the chase scene. However, Mari is no wait-for-rescue woman. Although young and inexperienced, she uses her wits, specialized knowledge, and chutzpah to fight back as the killers close in, and teaches them to always use quality products.
Miller uses her degrees in anthropology, geography, and foreign languages to create a rich universe that highlights unforgettable characters, defined class distinctions, innovative technology, and desirability of genetic robustness, to name a few traits. One of my favorite technological gadgets is the mind minstrel, a floating orb that emits music and light extrapolated from a person’s emotional state and spoken conversation (fleshed out more in Book 1). The Ambasadora universe also contains a few dystopian characteristics, such as all public events, and as many as possible of privates ones, being filmed or recorded and sent to a central archive for the sake of posterity, as well as the plight of the Lower Castes, who have to endure being treated as second- or third-class citizens. In fact, I look forward to stories centered among the Lower Castes, which promise to provide grittier tales of struggle, survival, and triumph.
I am passionately awaiting further adventures in the series, to be told in Starrie and Ambasadora 2: Scarred by Light, which are both due out later this year.
Read more about Heidi Ruby Miller and her Ambasadora series on her blog site: http://heidirubymiller.blogspot.com/