Kerris and her alien partner, Arucken, have been sent to negotiate with the alien species of Illicks on behalf of the Concordat. Their negotiations nearly lead to disaster when they discover the Illicks’ secret source of energy, the Gravity Orb. When the pair fails, they are taken to the Concordat’s Central Axis to be disciplined and to receive a new, and much more dangerous, mission.

With the danger of the universe ending and the machinations of certain members of the Concordat, Kerris and Arucken face perils that could end not only their partnership but their lives.

Theme of the Book

Like the first book in this series, Unravelling is based on the partnership between two different species, human and nestling. It is the depth, caring shown in their partnership that underlie all the actions in the story. This is a novel that shows the importance of cooperation and respect necessary for the growth of humanity.

What I Liked About the Story

The author has an amazing ability to create new worlds. Each of the worlds she writes about in Unravelling is complete with its own environment, its own species, and its own moral character. Whether the action takes place around the Avuncular tree of the Illicks, in the corridors of power of the Concordat’s Central Axis, or the barren asteroids of the Raiders, Ms. Vann presents worlds that the readers’ imagination will bring to life. Ms. Vann takes no shortcuts by giving readers earth-like environments, but forces readers to picture the diversity of the universe.

Into these diverse worlds come two well-developed characters, Kerris and Arucken. As a human, Kerris must have been relatively easy to write. She displays all the characteristics one would expect from an independent, strong, brave woman. Arucken, on the other hand, is from a strange alien species that has few if any human characteristics, and so is much more difficult to write about without losing consistency. Both of these characters keep the reader’s attention and sympathy throughout the novel.

There is practically no down time in the story. The book moves rapidly from situation to situation, with danger nearly always present.

What I Didn’t Like About the Story

The almost constant action in the story can be a problem. At times, Unravelling feels more like a series of episodes in a long-running television drama. The central characters are the same and there is something of a link between episodes, but in places it feels disjointed. As a reader, I felt that background information was missing that would have helped me to follow the plot more easily.

In the previous book in the series, Tacenda, there were many questions left unanswered. They are still unanswered. In fact, this book gives the reader more things to wonder about. The role of the Illicks was never very clear. Are they victims or conspirators? Who was Tatsuya and why did he arrive to take over the ship?

The ending is a cliffhanger with the fates of Kerris, Arucken, and indeed the universe, left hanging until the next book appears.

Final Say

Science fiction fans will enjoy the continuing saga of Kerris and Arucken in Unravelling with its universal themes. There is plenty of action to satisfy fans.

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