Song of the Navigator
Samhain Publishing / May 26, 2015 / $15.99 print, $4.99 digital
Worst Possible Birthday: Being sold into slavery by none other than your lover.
Tover Duke's rare ability to move anything instantly across light-years of space makes him a powerful, valuable asset to the Harmony Corporation, and a rock star among the people of the colonies. His life is luxurious. Safe. Routine.
He has his pick of casual hookups passing through Dadelus-Kaku Station. His one brush with danger of any kind-the only bright spot in his otherwise boring life-is Cruz Arcadio, a dark-haired, hard-bodied engineer whose physical prowess hints he's something much more.
When a terrorist abducts Tover, hurling him into a world of torture, exploitation and betrayal, it's with shattering disbelief that he realizes his kidnapper is none other than Cruz. As Tover struggles to find the courage to escape his bondage, he begins to understand the only way to free his body, his mind-and his heart-is to trust the one man who showed him that everything about his once-perfect life was a lie.
Warning: This story contains descriptions of extreme violence and assault. It also contains graphic sexual depictions. It also has a lot of birds. And pirate movies from the future. And romance.
This is the book I have been waiting for. An incredible science fiction romance featuring two men. Science fiction and male/male are some of my favorite sub-genres in romance, therefore, for me Astrid Amara's Song of the Navigator was an instant must-read.
An essential ingredient for any good science fiction, in my opinion, is an imaginative, in-depth yet relatable world. Of course I want a world that is interesting, unique and alien, but I also want to be able to connect with that world’s problems! Be it through the issue of social injustice, political turmoil or economic espionage. In Song of the Navigator the idea of Navigators (humans able to move objects and people through space and time through vocal vibrations) immediately intrigued me, partly because Tover is a gifted and valued improvisational Navigator but also because of the role they occupied in society.
“He’d dedicated his life to the intense training and control needed to manipulate subatomic space. He made cities rise and fall with the expedited transport of goods, services and people, and certain industries were completely dependent on him alone for supplies before they all died of old age waiting for a pulse transport or, worse, combustion-engine freighters.”
Since the age of five Tover had been trained, surgically modified and supported by the company Harmony. He’s treated as god by some people, showered with praise every day and given almost anything he desires, all because of his incredible gift in Navigation. The only slight niggle in Tover’s otherwise perfect life is his need to be discreet about is sexual preference for men, due to Harmony’s emphasis on the traditional family-unit. Yet Tover’s ordered existence is shattered when his long-time, yet infrequent lover Cruz kidnaps and sells him into slavery.
Tover is understandably devastated by this betrayal, Cruz was one of the few people that Tover trusted and believed valued him as a person rather than as a Navigator. During the next few chapters Tover is emotionally, physically and mentally broken by the Jarrow Pirates keeping him enslaved. They transform his gift of Navigation into a weapon of torture, causing him to hate and fear an activity that once brought him pride. Understandably a portion of Tover’s anger is transferred onto Cruz who placed him this unbearable situation. These scenes are not for the feint of heart and do contain graphic depictions of violence. I mean we’re not talking Game of Thrones bad but it is up there!
So he ate, fuelled both by the food and by the thought of revenge. He’d get out of here, then he was going to find Cruz Arcadio, wherever he was, and kill him.
No, first he would torture him. Maybe tie a wire around his neck until he bled, see how he liked it.
Then he would kill him.
Through all the torture Cruz is the one constant in Tover’s thoughts, at times he wants to kill him and in other moment the thought of Cruz’s smile is all that keep him going during his bleakest moments. For me this story was about so much more than the romance between Tover and Cruz, it was about Tover’s personal journey towards happiness. How he was able to overcome the horrors that happened to him and started to question the motive of those around him. Through Cruz his universe is expanded beyond the gilded cage of Harmony. Of course this happiness takes time and Tover doesn’t easily trust and accept Cruz into his life again.
His understanding and acceptance is possible in part due to Cruz’s family, who nurture him back to health after he has be rescued from the Jarrow Pirates. Even as a reader Astrid Amara did a fantastic job of making me forgive the actions of Cruz, because normally, I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t root for a character that had sold their lover into slavery. Yet everything was explained and put into a wider context, he didn’t act with cruel intentions but was instead forced to make a decision in difficult circumstances.
Cruz ran his hand through his hair. “If you knew why I did it, you’d—”
“Fuck you.” Tover shook his head. “Why help me now, after everything?”
Cruz didn’t answer for a long time, and when he did, he spoke quietly, his eyes a littleglassy. “Because you are a rare, beautiful flower. And I crushed you under my boot.”
Like Tover I was only able to forgive Cruz’s actions when they were placed in context. The Song of the Navigator was an incredibly well thought through science fiction romance whose world intrigued me, disgusted me and left me wanting more. Clearly I haven’t given the entirety of Tover and Cruz’s story and have instead left you a few twists and turns to discover when, and if you read the book. But hopefully I’ve given you enough to whet your appetite because Tover’s story is one that deserves to be read and loved.
Learn more about or order a copy of Song of the Navigator by Astrid Amara, available May 26, 2015:
Lucy Hargrave is a romance reader, blog writer, animal lover, and travel enthusiast who can be found at http://forgettheclassicsireadromance.blogspot.co.uk, among other places.