Winner of the Locus Award for Best First Novel: With mankind spread thinly across the galaxy, two refugees must find humanity’s home
Eric Born knows his way around the universe. He’s a quick-thinking merchant blessed with natural telekinetic skill. He’s also that rarest of creatures, a human being. Humans have been scattered across the universe, powerless and oppressed, dispersed so widely that no one knows what planet they first came from. Eric survives by selling his talents to the mysterious galactic tyrants known as the Rhudolant Vitae, but has never forgotten he belongs to the human race, and the distant world, the Realm of the Nameless Powers. The Realm may be a backwater, but Eric will do anything to protect his home from the merciless and powerful Vitae. With the help of fellow refugee Arla Rengate, Eric embarks on a journey across the stars. To save the Realm, he will have to cross the Vitae, and discover a secret that holds the key to the origins of mankind.
Zettel's debut novel breaks little new ground, but SF fans will still enjoy it. Her heroes, telekinetic Eric Born and mysterious pariah Arla Stone, must save their home planet from factions trying to tear it apart. This quest places them directly in the path of the Vitae, one of the most powerful races in the galaxy. Zettel's writing is crisp, and the story moves at an appropriately rapid pace. Although the reader may occasionally get the sense that the dramatic situation is familiar, Zettel's deft action scenes and wry humor help smooth out the trouble spots.