Consorts of Heaven by Jaine Fenn (Hidden Empire: Book 2)

A year ago I went looking for current authors in the sci-fi genre who were writing something similar to my own. A brief description of this book caught my eye - the mixture of a medieval society with science fiction - so I bought it and another by the same author. And then they sat on my bookshelf with a dozen others unread because I got too tied up in other projects and real life. But this summer the muse ran out on me and I sat down to catch up on my reading.

It opens like a piece of standard fantasy and almost straight into a mystery. Widow Kerin, gifted with a ‘skyfool’ son, finds a naked unconscious man out in the wilderness and saves his life. As they travel to Dinas Emrys, the City of Light, the man Sais gradually recovers his missing memory, with some startling revelations to himself and to Kerin. The entire religion of this primitive world is a sham - and worse still, Sais knows well the technologically-superior race that holds this world in thrall and who also stripped his memory from him before he escaped.

I love this blend of fantasy and sci-fi, my perfect combination. Fenn’s world-building is wonderful. The references to technology aren’t too heavy to follow, and the complexity of the primitive civilization is well-structured. The characters are flawed but strong, and there’s plenty of action and intrigue. Kerin’s harsh existence as an outcast, single woman and mother to a ‘gifted’ son is skilfully written, and Sais’s struggle to cope with her world whilst regaining his lost past is painfully drawn. Clues and details about the talents of the Consorts and their final fate tempt you along. At the end Sais and Kerin have to face and fight the truth, and deal with the moral dilemma - do they expose the lie or allow the terrible fate of the Consorts to continue? It could change every world in the Universe if the truth were told.

Consorts of Heaven can be read as a stand-alone novel even though it is part of the Hidden Empire series. This and Principles of Angels are tied together by Guardians of Paradise, and continued in Bringer of Light. And yes, I loved the first enough to buy the whole set.

9/10 A perfect combination of sci-fi and fantasy.

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