Ocean’s Echo is the second novel set in the same universe as Winter’s Orbit, but with new characters and new drama. The headline of this review is that I adored it. It is full of themes that I really got behind. Consent, mental control, neurological modifications and the ethics surrounding them.
We are first introduced to Tennal. He is an extroverted disaster zone. He’s contrary, rebellious, charismatic, and the nephew of the Legislator, one of Orshan’s senior political figures. At the beginning of the novel, he is slumming it in a gambling den hiring himself out as a reader. Second generation of the orginal neuro-modded humans. He can read minds and does so for fun and profit.
Surit is a Lieutenant in the Cavalry and is an ‘architect’. These abilities abilities allow him and other’s like him to compel someone to do something. Although Surit has shied away from using his abilities to their fullest because of his family history. A model officer everything is by the book and he knows all of the regulations.
The novel gave me so much joy. If Tennal was a character in a dungeons and dragons game he’d be a rogue, adept in all social circles and absolutely infuriating if he is not working with you. Surit on the other hand is a paladin, absolutely dependable and with unshakable beliefs. Forced into a situation where Surit is ordered to sync with Tennal. When Surit finds out that Tennal has not consented to this happening he has to question his own morals as well as what the military has ordered him to do.
I don’t want to give anymore away but this book discussed ideas of consent, control and ethics deftly and with grace. The relationship that develops between the two as information is received and as they learn more about each other as well as defying each other’s expectations. I loved the supporting characters of Istara and Basavi who were rankings that reported to Surit and their tolerance of Tennal was just joyous.
Maxwell is fabulous at crafting relationships, odd couples that can grow into something really unique. I want more from her in this universe, the romances are light touches and gorgeous, with very much a you and me against the world kind of vibe.
Ocean’s Echo is published by Orbit UK 3rd November 2022