Available for free from the author’s website : http://www.arkessian.com/
The patrolship Bhattya is looking for a new member of staff, and Rafe appears to be the man for the job. But then rumour reaches them that he has been mind-wiped for Oath-breaking. A terrible crime, because the Oaths between the Emperors and the Guild are all that holds some measure of peace and stability in place.
But Commander Rallya is persuaded to take him on after he demonstrates his extraordinary skill at “webbing”, which is a sort of virtual reality way of running a spaceship. And once he is crew she is determined to keep him as such, despite a myriad of enemies that seem to appear.
I picked this one up because I had literally just finished reading a book when Sandstone tweeted out some SFF recommendations on twitter. The first one being :
1. Helen S. Wright's A Matter of Oaths: Epic space opera in a slim volume! Warring immortal emperors, emotional intimacy, queer characters!
— Sandstone (@quartzen) February 19, 2016
and as I was on the ‘puter at the time I figured I’d give it a try.
It is a great fun read, fast paced and with some great characters. It also a gay couple, and a racially diverse team of characters. All of whom are characters, not just box-ticking in an attempt to be politically correct. And this from a book first published in the ’80s! Something we are still looking for in many many books published today.
So yes, I really enjoyed it, however it does have its flaws. I found it a bit confusing at start, with the Oaths and the Emperors and the Guild, as Wright doesn’t do any info-dumps you have to figure everything out as you read. I think I got it all straight in the end, although I’d still like to know why the Emperors are emperors, is it just that they are immortal? And why are they immortal?
But the flaws aren’t enough to prevent me from also recommending this book to anyone who likes more personal stories in their space opera.