Book Review: Destiny’s Flower (Saldiora Book 1)

destinysflowerDestiny’s Flower (Saldiora Book 1) by Linda Harley (2012)

Genre: science-fiction, fantasy, suspense, romance, fiction

I received a digital copy directly from the author, who found us (EBW and me) using the The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages’ Promotional Reference Guide for Authors and Small Publishers, Fourth Edition, in return for an honest review.

Amazon’s description is very brief, leaving much to the imagination:

Doctor Lynn Davis is kidnapped by handsome Lord Kyle von Talion and taken to a far off planet where she must fulfill her destiny to save the kingdom of Saldiora.

But here’s the description from the author’s website:

Doctor Lynn Davis is kidnapped by handsome Lord Kyle von Talion and taken to a far off planet, Saldiora. As she finds herself in this unfamiliar culture, she must learn to fight with a sword, ride a talking horse, and endure the politics of a royal court if she is to survive. Kyle has his hands full keeping Lynn from making cultural blunders and ensuring her safety. The Juntu’s are plotting to take over Saldiora and consider Lynn to be a threat to their success. Will Lynn live long enough to fulfill her destiny and save the kingdom of Saldiora?

Piapish Mishtum

Biomedical Engineering professor Lynn Davis is interrupted during a physics class by two strange guys a la Star Trek. She is startled and grips a special locket sent by her grandmother with a specific yet vague note just the day before…but it’s no ordinary locket. Indeed, it’s some kind of transmitter – and engraved with a saying, Piapish Mishtum (Seize Life).

Lord Kyle von Talion kidnaps Lynn and transports her to the battleship Destiny. They’ve abandoned a battle and traveled secretly through dangerous Juntu territory to get to Earth and retrieve Lynn for her help. Very much like Star Trek, given they’ve “dropped out of warp and locked a target.”

As soon as Lynn’s aware, she realizes her locket is missing…and Kyle reveals that the term Piapish Mishtum von Astrium was picked up by Destiny just days prior. And then they’re hit! Seems they didn’t sneak through Juntu space without being detected. Lynn escapes via the ventilation system, but only succeeds in pointing out a flaw in the Destiny‘s many technological systems…and getting stuck. She ends up landing on unbeknownst Prince Tristyn (von Feol) and threatening him.

No one has ever brought an Earthling before the court as a beauty.

Star-Trek-ships

Very much like Star Trek

Lord Kyle and scientist Dloakar put Lynn on cleaning duty, which leads to an unexpected attack. Kyle and Lynn escape, with Lynn firing the turret. They land rather late on Saldiora for the generational Beauty Gala, a ten-month competition of ten female unmarried female contestants. All ten contestants from the ten founding houses of Saldiora are given gifts and monies by a sponsor for their needs in the contest. They are all vying for the envious position of marrying the crown Prince OR Princess (in this case, Trystin) and becoming queen. The new royal couple would then be responsible for producing the next heir to the throne, and overseeing the Beauty Gala for their child’s prospective spouse. In this way, the royalty is not patriarchial. Nor is it exclusive; it can transfer houses.

Lynn makes some blunders in her first days, not being accustomed to social etiquette of the Saldioran culture. She is confused about the competition and has many questions about it – and her sponsor, who wants to remain secret, providing information through Kyle as an informant. Lord Kyle reveals information about the houses, the history of Saldiora and the unfulfilled prophecy:

The Juntus are descendants from the royal family the Astriums. It’s said that Count Zodrock, who later changed his name to Juntu, became greedy and rebelled against his brother, King Elym. Many people died or were enslaved. King Elym was able to drive the Juntus from Saldiora space and ever since we’ve been at war. 

It’s believed that when the Juntus were driven out of Saldioran space, that they kidnapped the heirs to the Astrium house. They have not been heard of since. 

Astrium: The settler family consisted of Nestim and Feliciam who had one son Savion. Now it came to pass that the settlers, especially the houses, decided that the von Astrium’s would ever more be the rulers of Saldiora. 

The day you give up is the day you die.

All the while, there is another contestant who suspects Lynn’s true identity, which Kyle is trying to keep secret until the right moment, and this sinister beauty is out to destroy Lynn. Both of Brigieta’s space attacks have already failed, but she must succeed because if not, Lynn could be the true heir to the throne. It’s no coincidence that Brigieta’s older sister, first in line to be the beauty representative from the von Neashop house, “committed suicide” the day before the competition. Brigieta already harbors plans of offing Prince Tristyn and her grandfather. But Brigieta is not who she is making out to be either, and there are a handful who know so – and one who seems would use this information to his gain, if need be.

Despite this, Lynn has a few memories and stories of Saldiora from childhood. There are only nine families left of Saldiora – the Astrium couple of the tenth house supposedly fled into the stars. The prophecy is that the princess and heir to the throne will return with a book History of Kings. Due to the strange circumstances and limited information anyone will give Lynn, she uses her one request of King Eber to have unlimited access to the royal library to do some studying…and more digging. Needless to say Lynn sticks out like a sore thumb in Saldiora, from her beliefs and attitudes, to her looks and dress. She must learn to play the game if she wants to prevail…and live to tell the tale.

The ending is definitely a cliffhanger – but in a good way! I can definitely see this book being made into a movie – Hunger Games style, following the book in the right way.

Overall, I found this book a great read. Their was enough suspense to keep readers engaged, especially with Lynn breaking Saldiora “traditions.” Lynn is a very strong character – a strong woman. She defies the small-mindedness of Saldiora, questions the “traditions,” and protects the slaves that are given to her. And that brings up another thing: she refuses to admit that the slaves given to her (Lunu, Williamson, Marvis and Jael) are slaves. Instead, she sets them up with their own banking accounts and pays them quite a fair wage – and she calls them her friends.

The one thing about Lynn’s character that I didn’t like, and that didn’t quite fit with her personality displayed throughout the book was at the beginning once she’s captured and aboard Destiny. She does escape through the ventilation of the ship, but once she’s found she just gives up, admits defeat and goes along like a little puppy dog. She doesn’t demand answers to her questions, she doesn’t know why they want her, she really doesn’t know what they’re going to do to her. And she just goes along with it. Later in the book she is defying the queen and the tribunal to escape the palace (for a good reason!) and is pretty set to do things her way.

Lord Kyle is an interesting character. His lineage has sworn to protect the von Astrium heir – and he thinks it’s Lynn. For someone of the court, and especially someone on the tribunal, he is very familiar with Lynn – maybe overly familiar. But in his heart he so strongly believes she is the heir, he is trying to prepare her to succeed in the Beauty Gala before they even reach Saldiora. He does everything he can to help her, and comes to her rescue a few times. There are a few moments that make you wonder….

British Royalty - quite different, yet similar, to Saldioran Royalty

British Royalty – quite different, yet similar, to Saldioran Royalty

Things I found most interesting in this book:

  • Both Lynn and the Saldiorans share the same space-time continuum. A minute our time is a minute their time.
  • Another forward-thinking ideal in this book is that both Saldiora and Juntu inheritance allow for females to inherit if there is no male son. Being the eldest of four and only daughter, this is a comfort. It’s nice to know that in this society women are not forgotten…
  • Although, Saldiora (and most likely Juntu) still live off of slave labor. For the Gala, each beauty receives four slaves: a maid and three orphan boys.
  • Nobody has last names. They all go by the ten house names, such as Kyle von Talion (Kyle of House Talion).
  • The Saldioran court operates much, if not identical to, like the European courts of old – with the exception regarding inheritance of the throne.
  • Instead of the dowager king and queen making marriage arrangements for their son based on politics, military alliances, factions or other “trades of royalty”, the Saldioran culture operates in this way: the family line is not patriarchal (only being passed down through the sons), nor is it exclusive in that one family maintains rule. Each generation, the eldest son or daughter selects one beauty to be his or her spouse from the Beauty Gala competition. This also presents an additional anomaly from European court culture in that the future king or queen gets some choice in the future spouse. The way this is set up, the royal line can transfer houses, and also allows for the royalty to “mix” bloodlines with “commoners.”
  • One can choose to decline ruling.
  • When the king’s line was broken, the house with the most power did not take over. The houses voted on how to set up their new ruling traditions.

Keep up with Linda on Facebook. Be on the lookout for an interview with Linda in the coming days. Again, if you are a reviewer, go check out her site and see if you can get on-board.

-CA

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