The second book in the Celta series, published June 2003.
Ruis Elder never asked for his unusual trait – the ability to neutralize other’s psychic talents. Because of this, he has always been hated in his own homeland, destined to roam the harsh planet alone. But trouble finds him in front of the ruling Council – and face-to-face with the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. There’s only one problem: Ailim is on the opposite side of the bench…
Ailim has never before felt such passion coursing through her as she feels in Ruis’s presence. And she never thought she would – at least not with a man so far beneath her station, a man who does not even have psychic powers. But even on the planet Celta, love is blind to such details. Separately, Ailim and Ruis must forgo their old lives. But together, they can take on the world …
Ruis Elder is a Null, someone who not only has no Flair (= magic) of his own, he also negates Flair used around him. Both in negating spells, as in making other people unable to use their Flair. People are afraid of him and his anti-powers, and he has been an outcast ever since his “gift” was discovered. His uncle Bucus T’Elder has been trying to kill him for years, and now as Captain of the Council, he is more powerful than ever. Ruis is filled with anger, always hiding and moving. His only solace is finding old Earth made machinery and fixing it. So he needs to steal, not only for food but to be able to buy parts for his machinery. And now he has been caught, and will face death or banishment in the next hour.
Ailim D’SilverFir is a Supreme Judge, but has just elevated to head of her House. A house in deep financial trouble, and she has to beg the council for a loan. A very big loan. But the only other option is selling the Family Residence, and that is just not done. The HouseHeart is in the Family Residence, one of the most important things in the lives of a Noble.
Ailim is a telempath, able to hear thoughts and feel emotions from others, so she has to go tightly shielded through life, though in her work as a Judge, those powers are very valuable. Knowing when somebody is lying, and finding out what really happens. But it is also very draining. So when Ailim meets Ruis, she has no idea why she feels so peaceful, why it is so quiet around him, but she loves it. And she cannot sense what he is thinking or feeling, which is a novel experience for her.
Ruis is equally affected by this beautiful young woman, and for the first time in his life he is being treated like a normal human being, even though he is chained up. Ailim manages to keep the guards from abusing him even more when Ruis is lead into the council chambers for his trial. His uncle wants him executed, he really hates Ruis with a passion, and for no other reason than his existence. He denies Ruis the Elder name, but the council decides for banishment for his thievery, but more because they are afraid of him being a Null.
Ruis has no intention of leaving the city at all, it is the only place where old Earth machinery is found. And he wants to see Ailim again, even though she is a Judge and she could/should report him at sight. He knows just the place to hide, where no-one will think of looking. The neglected space ship, where their fore-bears came to Celta with. Nuada’s Sword. No one is looking after it any more, the museum is barely visited.
Right after Ruis was escorted out of town, D’Ash gifted him with a kitten, one of Zanth’s offspring. She thought he could use the company, and Samba steals his heart right away. She also gifts Ailim with a young puppy. Her family loathes her, even though she does her best by them. The council has granted the loan, with a load of conditions and a manager to ehh manage the accounts for them. And T’Elder, their nasty neighbour, made sure it was one of his godsons, whom he can control.
Nuada’s Sword welcomes Ruis as her new Captain, and Samba as the new Crew. Most of the systems are still working, but there is a lot of work to be done to make it operational again. Strangely enough, the ship is almost sentient, and has been lonely. It is reluctant to let Ruis leave again, afraid he won’t come back like so many others. But Ruis likes it at Nuada’s Sword, and after adjusting the environment, he makes himself at home. The ship even helps him with an anger-management course.
Exploring the ship and everything their ancestors left behind. But he will slip out, dressed in a kind of invisibility cloak, to spy on Ailim when she is holding Court in the sacred Grove. And meeting her in secret afterward. They both know a relationship between them is impossible. If Ruis is found, he will be executed on the spot. And Ailim will lose not only her position as a Judge, but also as head of her house, her family and her family residence. Still, they cannot give up on each other. Ailim is working hard to have Ruis’ name cleared, his banishment and especially his treatment before that by his uncle, was unlawful. But she needs time, and hard evidence.
But time is running out on them, especially as Ailim’s aunt is acting more and more strange, and is now trying to destroy their House. T’Elder is convinced Ruis never really left the city, and has his guards looking for him everywhere. He even tries to kill Ailim when he finds out she is after him.
A great second book in this series. I enjoyed it a lot. Samba and Primrose really are adorable familiairs in this book. Did I mention the animals are also telepathic, and can communicate with their Families and other animals? And some can even teleport themselves. Samba does all kinds of little jobs for Ruis he cannot do himself.
Also the two Holly brothers I met in the first book make a large appearance in this one, trying to find Ruis. But when they corner him in the spaceship, the spaceship takes action. It evicts the brothers in an escape pod, taking them weeks to get back to town.
I really liked Ailim and Ruis in this book. In the first book, Ruis is only made the thief. But this is his story, and when you read it, you certainly understand him and feel for him. And he is so sweet for Ailim, even when you want to kick him in the end. And for Ailim, Ruis is a safe heaven from her demanding job and her hateful family. She really has deserved some joy for herself. She was raised as a young girl to become the next D’SilverFir, so playing is a strange concept for her. Two lonely hearts finding each other in this book.
Yes, there are love scenes in this book. After all, they quickly become lovers in secret, knowing there will be no future for it, taking every hour they can.
Great primary characters, a revisit of the previous main characters, and a little peak at the next main characters in book 3. Great animal-familiars, and a lot of Flair.