Science Fiction meets Fantasy. Sherrill Nilson has done a terrific job of melding the two different genres together in a story that centers around the creatures called Karda. These Karda have a horse body, talons for feet, a hawk head complete with a massive beak, and large wings. No one knows what they are like as babies as the Karda come to humans on their own and choose one human to fly them. These special people are called Mi’hiru. Most of the Mi’hiru are women, as a matter of fact, we meet the only man chosen in this first book.
Marta works for a company that offices and lives on a Trade Ship. Their goal is to sell high tech products to the planets around them. The story is set far in the future when people have had to leave earth to find other planets to live on, one of these planets is Adalta. Marta is sent to the planet of Adalta, as part of her job, to discover what she can about the planet and encourage the use of more technology. Since arriving on Adalta the people, fearing the destruction of a new planet, have purposely limited the amount of technology and advancement. They have chosen to be more primitive in almost all areas including outlawing firearms in favor of swords.
Marta initially struggles on Adalta and discovers not only the amazing Karda but magic and many unexplained events. She knows she can not develop lasting relationships with either the people or the environment since her assignment is short term. Needless to say, she gets involved, is chosen by a Karda, becomes a Mi’hiru and falls in love with the people and planet of Adalta.
Nilson does an astonishing job of creating villains and the psychological twists are as horrific as they are surprising. The main character, Marta, is easy to connect with, completely believable and you can not help wanting bad things to happen to her employer.
This story is geared for Young Adults but the complexity of the psychological play between characters, the well-developed villains and the environment of the planet makes this a fascinating read for any adult as well.