The Blighted Stars

Orbit. (Devoured Worlds, Bk. 1). May 2023. 544p. ISBN 9780316290791. pap. $18.99. SF
The Mercator family is a universal business empire, not only controlling much of humanity’s exploration and settling, but collecting vital resources for their own enrichment. Heir apparent Tarquin Mercator is not a businessman: he would rather focus on books and geology than financial domination. However, the habitable planets are collapsing, and Tarquin is tasked with overseeing the settlement of the next cradle world. Many feel that the Mercators and other powerful corporate families are at fault, and revolution is simmering below the surface. Naira Sharp has intimate knowledge of the Mercators, and she plans to take out the settlement ship before it destroys humanity’s next hope. But a series of events leads to the ship survivors being stranded on the planet’s surface, and what Tarquin and Naira discover will not only shake their own understandings of the truth but lead them to a plot that is devastating. Emotional arcs and action sequences, vivid worldbuilding, and interesting explorations of body printing and corporate servitude provide an immersive story.
VERDICT O’Keefe’s (Catalyst Gate) latest has the intrigue, surprises, and high stakes of her previous novels.
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