Kathryn Hilliard Klos
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (5/11)
Having lived her life as a slave, Maryan has hopes that things will change for the better when her world is invaded by beings from another planet. She dreams of being freed. Unfortunately, the invading aliens have a taste for human flesh. Captured by Vendan, a high ranking officer from the starship Xarlot, Maryan has to learn how to adapt to his physical demands so that she can survive.
Vendan comes from a race of strongly built, hairy, unattractive beast-like creatures. They travel through the universe harvesting humanoid forms from other planets for the purpose of ravishment and food. When Vendan sees that Maryan survives his initial assaults, he begins to feel drawn to her. Considering herself to be one of the Zai race with whom she was captured, Maryan does not realize how much she stands out as being special. Zai females are bred solely for the purpose of being docile slaves. Unlike Maryan, they have fair complexions, blonde hair and are not very bright. Vendan recognizes that Maryan must come from another place than these people.
Desperate to help the Zai survive the assaults of Vendan’s men, Maryan shows that she can be useful with teaching them what they need to do to live. Showing skills as a storyteller, she helps entertain them and train them to be of use to their alien captures. She also discovers she has other gifts, such as quickly picking up alien languages, telepathy, and soothsaying. Maryan continues to use her abilities to show that she is worth more alive than dead. She and Vendan also discover that they have fallen in love with each other.
When other forces intervene and cause an uprising, tragedy strikes the ship. Maryan finds herself traveling through the universe still seeking to help the Vai, and hoping to find a way to bring peace to Vendan’s people and others. Since most life forms do not appreciate being harvested for food, her task will not be easy. However, along the way, Maryan learns more about whom she is and where she comes from. Unfortunately, in spite of her freedom, she still has to deal with others who want to use her gifts and her knowledge in their war against Vendan’s people. So her story continues.
“The Storyteller” is a wonderfully written science fiction type fantasy novel. I loved how Maryan managed to see the best in others, and she also helped to bring out the best in them. Of all her gifts, that is probably the greatest one of all. I also appreciated that wherever she found herself, she did the best to accept her circumstances and make the most of them. I think there is a huge lesson in that for most readers, including myself. I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading more by this author in the future.