For What It's Worth

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Guest review: The Morcai Battalion: Invictus by Susan Kyle

Guest review by Tiger Holland from All Consuming Books

The Morcai Battalion: InvictusThe Morcai Battalion: Invictus
Susan Kyle
Luna, 2010
Format: E-book
Source: Review copy provided by Planned Television Arts

Dtimun and Madeline have served and fought together as soldiers and have quarreled as friends, but
now that they're traveling through space on a mission to save the future of the universe, it seems that
they'll be coming to terms with their deeper feelings for each other as well. The Morcai Battalion has
been fighting against the Rojok Dynasty, and now these two heroic characters have to save an enemy
commander by pretending to be married. But it's a difficult act to pull off since Madeline is a human
and Dtimun is a Cehn-Tahr alien (Note: I can't read “Cehn-Tahr” without thinking of centaurs...), so
there has to be the added complication of a little bundle of joy on the way.
The Cehn-Tahr are humanoid and look human, but they keep giving hints that they're also feline. They
can eat small animals whole, their eyes glow in the dark, and they're big on hunting. I'm coming in on
the third book in the series, so there's a fair bit of backstory involving Cehn-Tahr behavior and Dtimun
and Madeleine's pasts, but it's not too distracting, and it's important for the reader to be aware of the
species differences. The Cehn-Tahr try to hide a lot about themselves and their culture, but the most
unusual thing about them is how they manage to completely hide their true appearances with some
advanced technology. Even when they work alongside humans, no one really knows what these aliens
truly look like.
The world is good and the interplanetary conflict is set up just fine, but one major plot element felt
strange to me. Dtimun and Madeline don't just have to have a commitment ceremony to act as their
cover as they go to save this important Rojok man—they also need to produce a hybrid child in order
to really convince people. Komak, a traveler from the future, says this baby's existence is absolutely
necessary to the future of the universe, but there are intergalactic laws against hybrid children, so they
are both risking execution just by being the kid's parents. I think the pregnancy is just a way to get our
two leads together, and though it would rearrange the entire plot, I think I'd really find the book more
interesting if there were no pregnancy and Dtimun and Madleine were simply working undercover to
save an enemy and thereby save the future. That would be a cool story in and of itself.
Dtimun is very rough with poor Madeline. It's presented as not being his fault, and in a way, it isn't.
It's supposed to be an involuntary alien thing, and at least he knows how inappropriate his behavior is,
but I still couldn't help but find some of his treatment of Madeline distasteful. I don't mind the warrior
society of Klingons on Star Trek, but maybe that's because we never see them close up or get a real feel
for what it's like to be one of them. Madeline patiently bears with so much trouble, and it's hard to see
her suffering. Dtimun suffers too, though—they both get more and more emotionally involved as time
passes and they experience more turmoil. Overall, M and D are two nice people who have a problem
with communication. They just need to tell each other that they want their marriage of convenience to
be permanent and they'll both be fine, threat of execution or no.
For readers who like very dramatic stories with a lot of intense emotion, this might be a good fit. It
will probably work better for fans of romance than fans of science fiction, because the focus is on the
relationships (there's another romance involving secondary characters), not on the science and world-

Rating: 2 of 4 stars

1 comment:

  1. Probably not a read for me either, thanks for a very honest review.