CROWN PRINCESS RHIANNON TA’AN WANTS VENGEANCE.
The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, RHEE has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.
ALYOSHA is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.
Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.
The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.
In this exhilarating debut for fans of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy, RHODA BELLEZA crafts a powerful saga of vengeance, warfare, and the true meaning of legacy.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: War; Violence; Mild sexual themes
Booklist (February 15, 2017 (Online))
Grades 9-12. “She was alone, friendless, and supposedly dead. It was her sixteenth birthday.” Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an—Rhee—the last surviving member of the galaxy’s ruling family, faces this sobering reality after she survives an attempt on her life by one of her closest confidantes and jettisons into space in pursuit of the man she believes orchestrated the fatal attack on her family. Alternating chapters detail the saga of Alyosha, roguish star of the DroneVision show The Revolutionary Boys (think YouTube channel meets reality TV), who gets framed for Princess Rhee’s presumed murder. Belleza’s ambitious debut lays the groundwork for what is sure to be a rich sci-fi series full of political plots and worlds on the brink of war, futuristic biotechnologies reminiscent of M. T. Anderson’s Feed (2002), and startling plot twists. Fortunately, Rhee and Aly both stand out as resilient, resourceful protagonists who are, if not always innocent, at least confident in what they believe.
Kirkus Reviews starred (December 15, 2016)
A galaxy perches on the edge of war when word goes out that the crown princess has been assassinated. Except she hasn’t been. An assassination attempt from a shocking source has Rhee running from planet to planet, disguised, untangling threads of deception and betrayal. She’s bent on revenge on the man who assassinated her family years ago, which left her the last Ta’an of 12 generations of warrior emperors—but he may not be who she thought. In another thread, in breathlessly alternating chapters, Aly finds himself tossed from his life in the military (and reluctant star of a reality program) into a desperate quest to absolve himself from the charge of assassinating Rhee. It’s no coincidence that Aly, the accused, is black and belongs to an oppressed refugee group; Rhee has the tan skin of the ruling group. Never faltering in her fast pace and nuanced characterization, Belleza weaves together many complex layers: the recent Great War (massacres, famines, clouds of chemical gas that scorched whole cities to dust); racism, roundups, and imprisonments; the roles of media and propaganda; revenge, guilt, grief, and obligation; and disturbing moral questions about privacy and technology, especially regarding the cubes implanted in most people’s minds to orient them geographically and store their thoughts and memories. This is a multiplanet, multiculture, multitech world and a timely tale. An exceptionally satisfying series opener. (Science fiction. 14-18)
About the Author
Rhoda Belleza was raised in Los Angeles, where she grew up writing XFiles fanfiction and stuffing her face with avocados. When she’s not writing, Rhoda obsesses over nail art tutorials, watches kung-fu movies, and sews together crooked things that pass for clothes. She’s a children’s editor at a publishing house and writes from a sunny Brooklyn apartment stuffed far too many bikes and far too many shoes. Empress of a Thousand Skies is her debut novel.
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