Book Review: ‘The Stars Entwined’
“The Stars Entwined” by Jon del Arroz is a love story set against the backdrop of an interstellar war. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this breakout science fiction novel?
The Pros of “The Stars Entwined”
You meet the aliens early on through a young, new female officer. They’re different from humans in appearance but not unfathomable in mindset. However, there are real physical differences that lead to very different social structures. For example, how telepathy / empathy would impact social behavior and even the design of ships for such a species is touched upon. And both the advantages and disadvantages of this are discussed.
In many moments, when someone has doubts, there are logical answers for the behavior or actions. This is a step up from stories where someone doubts and then dismisses it irrationally or out of a silly “but I love them” moment.
The aliens have understandable reasons for what they’re doing that derive from their biology and social structures. They are misunderstanding and making mistakes akin to the Japanese during World War 2, but they are understandable and reasonable.
The secondary characters are often as fleshed out as the primary characters. The primary characters, too, are richly characterized, whether human or alien.
The alien villain’s motivations are threatening by human standards and a deviation from the aliens’ standards, but they are still something you could imagine stemming from his experiences and intentions for his people.
There’s a good mix of action and adventure, personal development and personal relationships in the story.
The Cons of “The Stars Entwined”
Love at first sight is more often lust at first sight than love. For it to happen despite being members of different species is less believable than if it were occurring between humans.
Love doesn’t conquer all nor solve all. And it didn’t in this case, in part because the book is intended to be the start of a series.
Why do all the interrogation scenes involve “roughing up” prisoners? It is centuries into our future, and alien biology won’t necessarily be like ours … and they may not understand ours.
Observations about “The Stars Entwined”
This book is clearly intended to be the first in a series, and that’s why it is subtitled “The Aryshan War Book 1”. Book 2 came out in August, 2020.
The enemy aliens are somewhat alien, but they manage to look sexy to a human observer and fit in human space suits. There are a few other convenient details about their biology that strike me as Star Trek-y, the raised foreheads and slight variations on the human form.
The name of the book is a play on star-crossed lovers and the aliens’ own biological process of entwining; they’re totally monogamous, and they imprint physically and telepathically upon mating for the first time.
If you’re looking for an interstellar war story with equally compelling humans and aliens, adventure and exploration of alternate world(universe)views, “The Stars Entwined” is a good piece of escapist story telling. It won’t be complete without a second volume by Jon del Arroz. I give “The Stars Entwined” four stars out of five.
© 2018 Tamara Wilhite