Seventeen-year-old Jai Rockworth, lately of Earth, exchanges himself for a Skolian prisoner and is now Jabriol Cox the Third, emperor of Eube. How long he'll remain emperor is how long he hides his psion abilities from the Eubian Aristos he rules.

A Eubian/Skolian hybrid, Jai uses his new position to angle for peace between Skolia and Eube, but his political inexperience causes problems and death. To forestall further mistakes, he makes the magnificent Tarquine Iquar his empress. Never mind that she's the finance minister and that her niece was Jai's grandmother. Tarquine embodies a healthy, sexy female, albeit a dangerous, ruthless one. Her political power now doubled, Tarquine discovers that the boy who would be emperor wields his own power, which threatens to change her way of life.

Politics, science and romance are crisply integrated into a fast-paced story that increases readers' understanding of the complex Eubian world. Asaro surpasses her usual outstanding characterization, giving key players extraordinary depth and revelation. (Mar., 480 pp., $25.95)

Reviewed by: 
Kelly Rae Cooper