Why? Because Haevyn Breina, the title character of Haevyn, is not just the star of her own story, Haevyn is an adrenaline junkie. She is psychologically incapable of waiting for life to happen to her. She is forced by her own nature to make things happen. In other words, Haevyn has “agency”, sometimes too much of it for her own good. She’s never passive.
There are occasions when Haevyn plays the submissive, but she never truly submits. Her point of view is well worth following, even to the point of wanting to shake her for some of the choices she makes, because she makes choices and acts on them. Decisively.
If Silver was intended as the story of a trinex, a person equally identifiable as male, female and humanotic, Haevyn is a story that separates those roles into three individuals, Haevyn herself, Grishna, her childhood friend and sometime lover, and Entreus, the humanotic rebel from book one, and Grishna’s lover. This should be a triangle.
But Grishna loves both Haevyn and Entreus, and his role is that of healer, mediator, balancer. He’s a peacemaker between two warriors who need each other to be whole. But they also both need his healing as a calming agent. The trick is to bring them together in a way that Haevyn won’t find manipulative, because she is easily spooked.
And Haevyn is both fascinated and repelled by humanotics. Her first sexual experience was rape by a humanotic. It’s left scars on her soul that she’s never been able to erase.
Grishna brings Haevyn to a Cockrage, which makes Fight Club look not just tame, but bland. A Cockrage is a cock-fight, but those are men in the ring, not birds. The fight is not just about the violence, it’s a fight for dominance. The champions and their challengers fight in the nude, just to make that point more clear. The loser gets screwed in the middle of the fighting ring, in front of the wildly cheering audience.
The audience is supposed to be only male. Grishna sneaks Haevyn in under the pretense of losing a bet. He wants her to see Entreus in Cockrage. Entreus is the reigning champion. Haevyn’s risk-taking nature overwhelms her fear of humanotics, and she is caught up in the overwhelming sexual atmosphere of the Rage, but only for Entreus, who is equally enthralled by Haevyn. She reminds him of the warrior-women of his home dimension of Oricta as none of the submissive ladies of Quentopolis ever have.
But there is more to this story than just the erotic. Haevyn is an officer of the military, even if the branch she serves are trained sex-workers assigned to personally serve high-ranking officers. It is the only way a woman in her society can earn a decent wage.
Haevyn needs that money. Her brother is addicted to body-modification. (And doesn’t that sound strangely familiar?) But on Quentopolis, if a person has more than a certain percentage of humanotic parts, they automatically become a slave. Haevyn is afraid that someday she will have to buy her brother out of slavery, and her fear is justified. She’s saving up.
Most importantly, the officer Haevyn serves, besides being a sado-masochistic bastard, which Haevyn is not just required to tolerate but trained to deal with as part of her duties, is also a treasonous bastard. Haevyn has to go undercover in many, many more ways than she was trained in order to save her city.
And she has to do it fast. Her brother and both her lovers are in danger. And there’s a sorcerer on the loose who might blow everything up just for spite, first.
Escape Rating B-: Once I started Haevyn, I couldn’t put it down. I had to find out how the whole thing turned out. This was so much better than Silver. I liked Haevyn as a character much better than Silver, which made a huge difference.
There are things about the worldbuilding that bothered me. Since this is the second book in a Science Fiction Romance series, there was stuff about the underpinning that I would expect to know by now. Other worlds are referred to as “dimensions”; how is travel accomplished? It’s never clear.
The branch of service Haevyn is in, the CompSociates, are military prostitutes. A society that restricts the roles of women the way Quentopolis does, would it also develop something like this? It was an interesting idea, but I’m not sure. On the other hand, it made me think, which is always good.
Another puzzle: Haevyn refers to damage to her sporiti from her rape. Is sporiti spirit or mind? That was never quite clear in context, not even in combination with the first book.
But if you have an interest in very erotic science fiction romance, Haevyn might be your ticket. For more thoughts on Haevyn, head on over to Book Lovers Inc.