Publisher: DAW (Open Road Media- 2016)
Publishing Date: 1986
Publishers Description: Skeen is a bandit and a rogue, a master thief wanted throughout myriad solar systems for plundering the rare antiquities of countless alien civilizations while always keeping one rocket ship–length ahead of the intergalactic law. A “rooner” with a dark past, she now finds herself penniless and abandoned on a miserable backwater planet, at the tail end of a string of very bad luck, with no option except to follow unreliable rumors to a supposed fortune in gems hidden among ancient ruins. What she finds instead is a gateway into another world—and a universe of trouble.
Review: This is an oldie but a goodie. Recently republished with better cover art. Skeen is a hard as nails thief with a vulnerability that draws you into her plight/quest to find the Return Key on a gate back to her original world. The storyline tracks her beginnings and subsequent travels on an alien world where she was transported.
While the characters were built very well and grew along with the storyline, the aliens were rendered lacking in descriptive detail. From the Funor, Nagamar, Min and Pallah (to name a few) you are only given scraps of information as to what they look like. Really frustrating in a genre that lives and dies by its aliens. Additionally the aliens didn’t really behave like aliens. More like human in mien with weird attributes and rituals which did not set them apart as wholly alien. There were a lot of spelling and grammatical errors which could have been alien stutter-speak, but who knows as nothing is clarified for the reader.
The quest is epic in scale and draws you in to a tapestry of deceit when Skeen is left stranded on a world to fend for herself amongst those that would enslave her. A solid 4 stars but loses one for a lack of descriptive detail and grammatical errors.