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Shadow Fires

Title: Shadow Fires
Author: Catherine Spangler

Published in February 2003 by LoveSpell
Genre: Futuristic
ISBN: 0-5055-2525-9

Related Books: (1) Shielder (2) Shadower (3) Shamara
(4) Shadow Crossing

The Leors are a barbaric race, according to human standards, but the fate of their race could depend on mating successfully with fully human mates. Unfortunately, Arion, ruling Comdar of Saura, has no real choice. He is leader and must set the example for others to follow. He is criticized for his action, but the truth is all too clear, and the Komiss, the overseeing council of all Leor clans has decreed it as well. The Leors are a dying race, and where they were superior before, they are being corrupted, and far too inbred now. Leor settlements have always been on hot and arid worlds that humans tended to avoid. They are genetic mutants, part human and part reptilian, and that dichotomy is the reason for their living in those hot climates. Humans do not want to inhabit these dry and desolate places, but the Leors need the heat, because their bodies do not produce enough. Now, for some strange and unfathomable reason, the Controllers have started to look to the Leors and their homeworlds. Their orbiting security systems have been disabled, and settlements attacked and destroyed. Betrayed from within by those bribed by the Controllers.

Arion has come to Candast, the Shielder's new homeworld in the Verrante Quadrant, to seek a wife from among their population. He feels certain that there must be one among them who would be willing to take on a Leor mate, in spite of the fierce Leor reputation. His people lived by a strict caste system, the lowest of whom were the slaves. They were mostly composed of non-Leors, a variety of humans, taken in battle, captured in raids, or bought from the many slave markets that dealt in human flesh. He chose the Shielders, because he wanted a wife from one of the best and strongest of races. They fought valiantly against great odds until the majority managed to escape, and he has great admiration for those who survived the battles fought against their particular enemies. The Controllers, who now seem to be threatening the Leors, sought to wipe the Shielders from existence. Arion knows they are a strong people, and he would be proud to call one of their females his mate. He also understands the reluctance of the leader, Jarak San Rannul to go to his people with such a request, but Arion also knows, that this is his best chance to find a willing mate, and that is what he wants. It has always been what he desired...

The prophetic dream, the promise of destiny is coming true, the freedom promised by the pink Shielder Moon is coming to pass, but so has the rest of the dream. For her people, Jenna Dan Aron was happy, but her personal part in the vision was another matter. The Leor was here, now. She has sensed his arrival. She is frightened by that portent, but her dreams and visions did not lie. He is her destiny, this barbaric Leor, and there was not much she could do to change it, even if she wanted to. Her life was ruled by her difference, and for that she was an outcast, someone to fear. What did she truly have here? There were a very few close friends, but the majority looked at Jenna Dan Aron in fear and even loathing. They were happy to use her talent when it suited their purpose, but to know her as a person, and include her willingly into their lives, and the life of the colony seemed beyond most of them. Only Jarak San Rannul, his mate Eirene, and their small cadre of friends truly accepted her. She wished it could be enough, but yet she knew it wasn't to be, and now HE was here.

It is with great trepidation that Jenna agrees to go with the Leor, to become his mate and bear his children. She hopes that she may find acceptance there, and although she is still afraid, she knows that she will not really be in any worse position than she is now. At least there, she will be a true outsider, and as such, maybe she can find a modicum of acceptance in the Leor society. She is not prepared for the rough treatment, the disregard for her as a person, and the culture shock is almost more than she can handle. There is much to learn, much to adjust to, and Jenna is not certain she is capable of the necessary accommodations she has to make. She is plagued with uncertainties, and the sting of the treatment she has received at the hands of the Leors thus far. Her only friend, is an android sent along to help with some research into the Leor fertility problem. The loquacious android soon becomes her anchor in the hot, strange, and alien world of Arion’s people. It is with her help that she slowly comes to a modicum of understanding of the Leor society, and a small bud of hope and love begins to unfurl. It is not until she meets Lani that true understanding comes, and she can really start to make real progress in her relationship with Arion. Now the question is, can this happiness last, or will the danger that surrounds them tear them apart forever?

Catherine Spangler has another superbly written treat for us in her new offering Shadow Fires. The Leor are having problems having children, their race may be dying out, and what is even worse yet, the Controllers, the scourge and the “ruling body” of the quadrant may have their eyes on the Leor homeworlds. Up until now, the Controllers have left the fierce and warlike Leor alone, fearing the consequences of rousing them as a race. Now, with careful bribes, spies, and espionage the Controllers have begun to systematically attack the hot, dry worlds that the Leor call home. The fate of the race may lie in their ability to reproduce, but lately, that has become an increasing problem. The genetic makeup, the careful engineering of the Leor as a race long ago may have repercussions that are only now becoming evident. The need to mate with humanoid races to enlarge their genetic pool, and hopefully to produce viable offspring is a must, and so the leaders are to set the examples. So it is that Arion is the fulfillment of Jenna’s prophetic dream.

Shadow Fires is a look at the race of beings that strikes fear into the heart of even the Controllers, the Leor. They are the mightiest warriors in the quadrant, and as such are feared by all. Jenna Dan Aron has the gift of sight which has branded her as an outcast among her own people. They fear her gift, and shun her. The vision that she saw so long ago is coming true, and she knows that her fate lies in Arion’s hands. Once again Catherine gives us a look into the wonderful worlds and people that populate her imagination. Shadow Fires continues the series that began with Shielder, and takes us back to the “Controller Territory” where it all started. With finesse and grace, Catherine pulls us into the intimacy of the Leor Rituals, the surprising spirituality that Jenna can readily accept, and the danger that exists for them all. She also gives us a deeper look into Leor society, and uncovers the caste system, and the function and mores of the society itself. Shadow Fires is available in February from Dorchester Books, and is a definite must buy for your Futuristic Keeper shelf. Catherine’s latest offering will not disappoint you so look for it in February at your favorite bookstore.

Yours in good reading,

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