Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Confluence by S.K. Dunstall
Series: Linesman #3
Published by Ace on November 29, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Space Opera
While the Crown Princess of Lancia seeks to share the new technology, her father, the Emperor, has other plans. His latest political maneuverings seem to be tilting the balance of control to Lancia’s favor—a move that not all members of the New Alliance are looking upon favorably.
As tensions mount, Ean’s former shipmates must unite to avert a disastrous conflict: the princess working within the tumultuous Alliance, Ean seeking the help of the impatient alien ships, and Ean’s close friend and bodyguard, Radko, embarking on a mysterious and perilous mission.
But the biggest threat comes from an unexpected source. Someone is trying to take down the New Alliance from within—and will use anything, even the lines themselves, to ensure its destruction...
I got the first book in this series as part of my first Ace Roc star package and I knew from reading the blurb I would love it. I did and I have continued to love this series. Of course, it is space opera and I’m renewing my love affair with space opera the past two years.
Read the Linesman series in order, the story builds with each book. Each of the three books is different in the feel. Linesman (my review) introduces this world and our hero, Ean Lambert. Alliance (my review) is a broader view of the world and its politics with many more characters involved. Our “team” from Lancia works together to try to solve issues. Confluence has our team separated and all our main characters isolated from each other. Ean starts out alone, struggling to build a life, then he is a valued part of a team, and now he is rather alone again but still with some influence and control.
Some key players from the first two books have limited roles. Mostly, Ean and Radko, who are not in the same location, tell us most of this story. The two political factions of Lancia each believe they are doing the right thing. The authors did a fascinating post here; how do you know if you are fighting on the right side in a war.
The politics, the war, the factions all keep things moving and kept me reading in suspense of the outcomes. Angst over the treatment of some people was more than usual, and I worried tremendously for my people’s safety. And now, I really HATE Jordan Rossi. He was always an arrogant annoyance, but I am done with him now.
This trilogy brings a story arc to a close, is the end of the contracted books, but I really hope we get more of this series. There is more to know about Ean and how the world changes for the linesman. The alien ships and the ramifications of working with them can have so much more. Each captain of each ship could make other interesting stories, along with their crews. I want more! Highly recommended series.
I’m excited to share an exclusive post from the authors for us. S.K. Dunstall shares with us how music came to be part of this story.
Author Guest post:
He sang as worked. The deep sonorous song of the void—line nine. The chatter of the mechanics—lines two and three. The fast, rhythmic on-off state of the gravity controller—line four. And the heavy strength of the Bose engines that powered it through the void—line six. He didn’t sing line one. That was the crew line, and this was an unhappy ship. —Linesman
We didn’t deliberately set out to include music in the Linesman series. We were telling a story about sentient alien ‘technology’ that humans had discovered by chance, had used for five hundred years now, and thought they knew how it worked, but they didn’t. In fact, they didn’t even know what it was.
The music was there, right from the first draft. It arrived on page two and it stayed, integral to the story. Far more important than we ever could have imagined when Ean first started to sing.
“How do my crew communicate?”
She knew what the answer would be before he said it. Lambert had sung to the lines.
This was going to be the noisiest bridge she’d ever been on. —Alliance
By the time we arrived at book three, it was part of the story arc, and everyone was asking questions about it. Including characters in the books.
“And the singing, Linesman?” the Factor asked. “What does that signify?”
He’d jumped on a single tune very fast. Almost as if he had been waiting for a song so he could ask the question. How much did he know? —Confluence
Music is awesome. It can lift a mood, set a mood, evoke memories. It can override faulty or damaged brain connections to temporarily restore memory. Or to help people with problems like Alzheimer’s disease to remember and even move more easily.
How do we know these last two? A reader sent us an amazing link on how therapists are using music to help people. The link’s gone now, or otherwise we’d add it here.
Our readers are wonderful, and many of them know a lot more about music than we do. We are learning so much from their feedback and their questions.
Another reader wanted to know about the musical roots. Whether Ean’s singing was based more around Qawwali, Tuvan throat-singing harmonics, Enya, or something else altogether.
Our answer? We both imagine it as a full vocal sound. Something that comes through as more than just a single voice singing. But we couldn’t attribute it to a particular person or sound. While we were writing Linesman we listened to a lot of Enya, Lisa Gerrard, and big movie themes (with a strong vocal component), and that probably subconsciously influenced what we imagined the sound to be.
It turns out that the music we listened to is a combination of all those styles of music. If you delve into Lisa Gerrard’s singing she cites Greek, Turkish, and Irish influences. And if you listen to Qawwali or Tuvan throat singing you can hear the similarities.
Readers ‘get’ the lines. They tell us:
“I was spinning, and everything was running so smoothly. I could feel the lines singing to the strands of wool, guiding them.”
“I was having a bad day. I asked the lines to guide the flow, and everything settled.”
“I can hear the lines singing to me.”
We write to music. Soundtracks and voices. A typical mix might include Sarah Brightman, Hans Zimmer (and pretty much everyone from his studio, and lots of Lisa Gerrard here), Era, Ten Tenors, Luciano Pavarotti, Audiomachine, James Newton Howard. Soaring voices, big music.
The words flow especially easy late at night, when there’s just you, the lighted room, and the music.
So it is only natural that our books contain music as central to the story.