In AMBASADORA, author Heidi Ruby Miller created a fascinating, and highly detailed ‘verse peopled with three-dimensional characters going about the business of surviving, falling in love, and navigating the intricacies of a complex and corrupt political overclass. Her second novel set in the same ‘verse, GREENSHIFT, takes a smaller bite of her ‘verse and explores the relationship between Armadan Captain David Anlow and botanist “Mari” Boston Maribu, both introduced in AMBASADORA.
Set prior to the events of AMBASADORA, GREENSHIFT starts with the incident that caused David to take an extremely early retirement from the Armada. We follow him as he adjusts to life as a civilian pilot aboard the “science” ship Bard. Where David is everything military, orderly, methodical, by-the-book, Mari is anything but. She is much like a wild woodland nymph in her own right, all riotous color and free-spirit. Naturally, David falls hard for her and she falls hard for him. I have to admit, I fell for him too.
But as in any good story, the course of true love cannot run smoothly. In Miller’s deft hands, their courtship plays out in a ‘verse so detailed that one can smell the scent bots, but so beautifully described that her world-building flows seamless through the story. One does not simply read Heidi Ruby Miller’s stories. One lives them along with the characters, inhabiting their skin and experiencing the adventure right along with them. And by adventure, I do mean a suspenseful, action-packed adventure. From the starting block, GREENSHIFT is filled with heart-pounding action and fight scenes that will have your adrenaline flowing.
The bad guys are sadistic and brutal, and the author isn’t squeamish about vivid descriptions of either. Miller takes on the seedy underbelly of her ‘verse, mixing vice with a rigid caste system. The results are a spoiled privileged class that exploits its inferiors, dabbling in deviant behaviors that would have made ancient Romans sit up and take notice. With Mari targeted by human traffickers bent on sex slavery, torture, rape, and murder, a dark sub-plot weaves through the story, casting a shadow over the budding romance.
Overall, GREENSHIFT lives up to the promise in AMBASADORA, and is an excellent prequel/followup to the first book. I truly enjoyed the author’s foray into side stories from her ‘verse and I hope GREENSHIFT won’t be the last.