In an unusually masterful first novel, physicist Asaro combines hard speculative science and first-rate storytelling to look at the galaxy's distant future.
The Skolian Empire rules a third of the civilized galaxy through its mastery of faster-than-light communication. But war with the rival empire of the Traders seems imminent, a war that can only lead to slavery for the Skolians or the destruction of both sides. Destructive skirmishes have already occurred. A desperate attempt must be made to avert total disaster. Earth's peaceful Alliance shares power with those two other empires.
Heir apparent to oversee the Skolian empire, Sauscony Valdoria is a bioengineered fighter pilot who has inherited rare psychic abilities that link her to the powerful "psiberspace" Skolian Web. Taking shore leave on a neutral planet, Sauscony encounters Jaibriol, an heir to the throne of the sadistic Trader Empire. During a fortuitous melding of minds, Sauscony not only recognizes Jaibriol as her psychic soul mate but realizes her new love has been bred specifically to give Traders the power to vanquish the Skolian empire.
Asaro innovatively blends computer technology and telepathy into the electrifying, action-rich drama she creates. This is one of the best sf first novels in years, a likely candidate for the genre's major awards.