Lucasfilm's Alien Chronicles:
The Golden One
by Deborah Chester
Published by Ace Books
Brian Zoromski's Rating: 4 out of 4
This novel, the first of a trilogy, takes place outside of the Star Wars "universe," but its story and characters definitely appeal to Star Wars fans. The Golden One touches on universal themes, such as imperialism, slavery, class-based societies, childhood dreams and nightmares, and the journey into adulthood.
The main character of the story is Ampris, otherwise known as the Golden One. Ampris is a pet of an imperial daughter named Israi. Ampris is of a cat-like race called Aarouns and Israi is the daughter of the Kaa -- the ruler of the Viis, a reptilian race that has ruled the Viis homeworld and surrounding planets for centuries, keeping the other "inferior" races in servitude. You watch as Ampris and Israi grow up together and begin seeing the world through the eyes of adults, instead of the wide-eyed innocence of childhood.
There's a lot more to the story that I didn't cover in the summary above. I found myself continually impressed by the thought and history that was put into this story and pleasantly surprised with how well it was all told. Deborah Chester weaves a complex story with fantastically believable and realistic characters. I found myself easily identifying with these characters, even though they are an alien race in a different society and world.
It's been a long time since I've read a book that so engulfed me in its world that I absolutely had to finish it. I had no expectations going into reading this book, but came out entranced and hooked on this new universe of characters and aliens. I highly recommend this novel.
It started pretty slowly for me. When I first started reading the book it seemed to be more of a fantasy story than sci-fi, and I'm not a real big fan of fantasy. There was a whole new world of characters and alien races that I had to familiarize myself with.
The first two pages of The Golden One give paragraph-long descriptions of the eight races of aliens in this new series. I found myself frequently going back to these descriptions during the reading of the book, especially in the beginning when characters were being introduced. And that initially put me off from reading further. But about 1/4 of the way into the novel, the story line and characters really started to pick up and then I couldn't stop reading until I finished it!
Now I'm addicted to another trilogy and have to wait for the second novel, expected in October, 1998. D'oh.