T.L.Smith, living Arizona, originally from Louisiana, is ex military and a writer of military science fiction with strong female characters. One of the unique aspects to her writing is her mix of aliens with the legends and stories of mythology. This concept is what made me want to read her novella because one man’s story is another’s religion. Her consideration and respect for the cultures of others lends heart to her science fiction, the key to why I liked reading her novella, Star People Legacy.
The novella begins with Captain Beth Castle, a U.S. Marine heading with her partner, Sergeant Brandon Lutz, to inspect Aid Relief Stations along the Arizona/Mexico border. As they check, they find the aid stations haven’t been used and no signs of any illegals that normally would use the aid. As they are attempt to discover the reason why, they have a hostile encounter with a strange group of men which triggers a change in Beth, both physical and spiritual.
Beth awakens and she sees things that leads her to seek out the help of her family as she learns that the myths she grew up with are very real. Beth’s becomes involved in an epic battle that could cost her everything she loves, her family and the man she loves, Casey Delgado. Beth struggles with changes in her physical self as well as the truth of who she is. Can she embrace her change and prevent the deaths of innocents?
T.L. Smith has an incredibly vivid and engaging main character. Immediately, Beth grabbed my attention. The character is written as an authentic military soldier, is tough and yet warm and caring. As the main character, she drives the story, compelling in her struggle with her family background versus her military training helps guide the story.
One of the elements that helped me engage with the main character was her relationship with her boyfriend. This is a woman who cares, about her boyfriend, her friends, and her family. She struggles with making her relationship with her boyfriend permanent but having that, her love and his support make the novella stronger as she encounters worse to deal with than her relationship fears. Beth is three dimensional with real strengths and weaknesses, along with a very strong military aspect. You can truly see T.L. Smith’s own military background and knowledge at play in the character and how believable she is.
The other key to the strength of this novella is the treatment of the mythology of the Native people along with the mixing of Star People with science fiction. The elements are treated with respect but the author puts her own unique spin and style to the mythology, building a believable plot and world. I love how she mixes aliens with native mythology to create an authentic world, one which I found compelling and engaging.
The battle between the Star People and their enemy was well written, the action making me turn pages as I found it impossible to put the story down. The planning of the mission, the military terminology, the actions of each group as they go to battle makes sense and was compelling. It made sense as well as being well paced to keep the reader engaged.
While the plot was sufficient to the novella and was a complete story, though, I did find myself wanting more. I loved the world and wanted to learn more about Beth’s family and while the background of her family as well as the religious rites were well developed, I just felt like there was so much story between the pages and lines of this novella. I could see so many ways to not only expand the story but also more stories that could take place in the world and I hope to see more.
While the world was well developed, however, I did feel like some of the secondary characters could have been more detailed. While I felt that Casey, Beth’s boyfriend is fully fleshed out and we did get a great deal of her partner, Lutz, there were times when they were a touch flat and I would have liked to have seen more details about both. In addition, while the mythos and rites of her family were complex, her brothers were hard to distinguish between and I would have liked more information on her family.
In addition to the secondary characters, while the action pieces were engrossing and fast paced, the times Beth is discussing her family and background feel less like we are in her head and more like we are being told her background. I would have liked more of the information sprinkled into the action and dialogue. In my opinion, it would have made those sections faster paced.
Overall, I really did like the story. The plot is unique, the action consuming, and Beth is a strong, independent character, a woman who is comfortable with her femininity and her ability as a soldier. I loved her as a character, liked how she dealt with her challenges and the story was intriguing, whetting my appetite for more. I can’t wait to see more from T.L.Smith!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Thunderbirds