Burke, Anna. “Compass Rose”, Bywater Books, 2018.
Sailing the Seas in 2513
I do not read much science fiction. In fact, the only science fiction that I do read are the books that I am asked to review. I have no idea why the genre just does not do it for me so you can imagine my surprise reading and enjoying every page of “Compass Rose”. It is an adventure novel set in 2513 and it is a charming read that it filled with heart.
Rose was born with a strong sense of direction and that is what brought her to the Archipelago Fleet (the place where most people then lived) and aboard the North Star where she was welcomed in the circle of the elite sailors and the attention of Admiral Comita who thinks enough of Rose to send her on a secret mission in pirate territory. Miranda, a sexy and bloodthirsty captain leads Rose and the crew of mismatched mercenaries into turbulent waters where Rose learns that she needs more than a good sense of direction in order to stay alive. Once on board the mercenary ship, Man o’ War, Rose understands that that trusting the wrong person can get her killed and it is clear that Miranda and her crew will not make and that Miranda’s first mate, the stubborn and brutal Orca.
As we can well imagine, the world in 2513 is quite different from the world in which we live. I was surprised to read that there were still pirates sailing the seas. Of course, alternative energy sources are used yet the number of pirates seems to have grown. We read that help is needed in order to thwart the pirate Ramada from gaining control of the Archipelago and its resources. Rose goes under cover to get an idea of Ramada’s plans and strength setting off a a sequence of challenges that include battles.
It is hard to believe that this is a first novel in tht the prose is excellent throughout and the idea for the plot is quite brilliant. What I find even more interesting is that this is a lesbian novel in which the gender of the characters does not matter. Thus it is a novel about women who just happen to be lesbians and neither gender or sexuality are the main focuses of the story. The point that I am trying to make here is that the adventure is the core while the relationships we read of are lesbian centered but that is not what makes the action move forward. (Speaking of characters, the dialogue is wonderful).
Admiral Comita is the mother of Harper who is Rose’s best friend and when she sends Rose on her mission it is on the condition that she has to leave without saying anything to Harper. Comita could also not offer any kind of assurance that Rose would be safe.
The descriptions are all incredible, so much so that a mental picture of the action never leaves the reader (even after closing the covers). I had the distinct feeling that there will be a sequel and I can’t wait to read it.