Today is my stop on the Storytellers on Tour blog tour for On the Winds of Quasars (The Song of Kamaria #2), the exciting sequel to T. A. Bruno’s In The Orbit of Sirens. Please take a look at the posts from some of the other tour hosts here. There is also a recap of the story so far, and a US giveaway, so don’t miss those!
On the Winds of Quasars by T. A. Bruno
Series: The Song of Kamaria (#2)
Published: September 20, 2021
Genre: Sci-fi Fantasy
The thrilling sequel to In the Orbit of Sirens
THE WORLD OF KAMARIA WILL NEVER BE THE SAME.
In the aftermath of the brutal slaying of a sacred auk’nai deity, Cade and Nella Castus are taken from their home and brought deep into the wilderness. They must make their way back to civilization, traversing dangerous landscapes as they are pursued relentlessly by their captor—a winged abomination.
As Denton and Eliana search for their missing children, they uncover something that will change all life on Kamaria forever.
I was sent a digital version of this book and also a signed paperback, in exchange for an honest review – thank you very much to Justine, Timy and T. A. Bruno!
On the Winds of Quasars is the sequel to In the Orbit of Sirens which I thoroughly enjoyed reading earlier this year. I greatly appreciated the recap included at the beginning of the book – it has been a while since I read the first book and I had forgotten some of the details which the recap mentions. There are also recaps peppered throughout the early chapters which was a good idea in such a richly different world, with a complex story.
The majority of this sequel takes place twenty-six years after the original book, but many of our old friends are happily back again. Denton and Eliana are now married and Denton’s parents are in their 80s. Faye Raike; Marie Viray and Jess Combs the Tvashtar marine are still part of the scout team. Talulo the wingless auk’nai is their pilot and George Tanaka is now stationed at the Telemachus outpost, at the location where the main antagonist, Nhymn the siren, was brought down in the previous book. The Telemachus space ship which was crashed into Nhymn in order to defeat her is still standing at the site and vines and other more sinister wildlife have adopted it as their home.
The once pristine domed settlement of Odysseus City is now more run down with crime and poverty rearing their ugly heads. Auk’nai and humans are living in a combined society and many younger Auk’nai have given up their societal traditions. It’s clear that Bruno has given a lot of thought to how the city would have changed over the intervening timeframe.
As with In the Orbit of Sirens we are treated to plenty of interesting flora and fauna found on the planet of Kamaria and once again the world-building is cinematic and easy to visualise. The colours are vivid and the animals are imaginatively described:
“They passed a lemurbat nest. The small bidpedal creatures had slick purple skin, large ears, and four orange eyes. Among the six curious lemurbats in the nest, the glint of their eyes made them look like a much larger crowd. When Homer’s robotic body moved past the nest, the lemurbats scurried deeper into their hole.”
The story of On the Winds of Quasars begins with a gripping murder mystery – the massive Daunoren bird, revered by Kamaria’s native Auk’nai species as the god of the mountain, has been killed. This is a terrible tragedy and puts an end to their ability to see the past. Old fashioned detective work will therefore be needed to find the murderer.
Denton and Eliana have two grown up children, Cade and Nella Castus. Cade works in space as an engineer, but returns at the beginning of the book for a well-earned break with his parents after being “Up” (in space) for a six year stint; and Nella, who is deaf and works as a botanist with Marie Viray. The importance of family is a strong theme in this series and we see a great example of that at Cade’s ‘welcome home’ get-together, with his grandparents visiting, as well as his uncles, and everyone playing backyard sports together. Nella and Cade are close and their strong bond is heart-warming and helps them survive as the story progresses.
The mystery continues and Cade and Nella are kidnapped by a monster with three yellow eyes. Through flashbacks we learn more about this monster and at about the half way point in the story the veil is lifted for both the reader and the monster! It is a clever and thrilling plot point, without giving anything away here, and the tension continues to intensify as Denton and Eliana search for their children, making increasingly horrifying discoveries about the planet, the more they search. Their search takes them from one side of Kamaria to the other and the map included with the book was a useful resource which I often referred to.
My favourite section of the thrilling chase was a sequence where Cade and Nella are trying to escape the monster and return home, and come across the colossal timbermen parade, climbing up onto one of these walking trees enables them to cross a large lake:
“Hundreds of timbermen paraded through the lake. Their enormous legs moved through the water, soaking up as much as they could hold in their bodies for their long migration. The lake rested in the basin of a circle of mountains, emptying on the opposite side through some canyons. Waterfalls spilled from high ledges on the surrounding cliffs, making the entire basin look like an enormous fountain. Birds circled overhead, some diving into the water to gobble up fish, others resting on the branches of the timbermen.”
In this book we finally learn the backstory of the fearsome Undriel race who drove humanity away from the Sol System in Book 1 of the Song of Kamaria and of course it can all be traced back to greedy humans who wanted to be able to act like gods. The horror of being used as a puppet by a terrifying enemy while also being aware that you cannot do anything to stop your body from committing atrocities, is really disturbing. Bruno cleverly uses this device to raise the stakes for our heroes and raise the tension for his readers.
The inclusion of a deaf main character was fantastic and done very seamlessly. Nella’s friends and family use Sol-Sign (similar to ASL) to communicate with her. Her inability to hear what is going on when running from the monster raises the tension level substantially. I would imagine a lot of deaf people would like to get their hands on one of the fantastic soothreader devices which Nella also has access to, and which can translate her sign language into spoken word for anyone who doesn’t know how to sign. Nella was my favourite character in the story – she seemed a very warm compassionate and genuine human being.
While I am on the subject of characters I will say that I had trouble figuring out the point of Zephyr, Cade’s love interest. She joined the search for Cade and Nella but didn’t seem to bring an awful lot to it, or to the story as a whole. I am wondering if she was introduced in this book because she has a larger part to play in the finale.
On the Winds of Quasars is a thrilling story with many edge-of-the-seat moments and which ends with quite a few loose ends waiting to be tied up by the final book in the series. I found it difficult to put down and can’t wait to find out what direction the story will go in next!
The Story So Far…
All hope was lost.
The Sol System had been taken by nightmarish machines called the Undriel. One by one, each of the colonized worlds was absorbed into their dark network. The machines worked so quickly, so efficiently, that their motives were never truly discovered. Humanity fought back, but their defenses crumbled, and it became clear that the war would be lost.
A desperate escape.
The Telemachus, an interstellar spacecraft designed for exploration, was repurposed into a liferaft. With their backs against Jupiter, and the Undriel clawing their way across the Sol System, humanity fled across the stars.
A home abandoned.
The Undriel sunk into obscurity after the exodus. None of the surviving humans knew what had become of their old foe.
A home discovered.
Kamaria, humanity’s new safe haven. It is a world of immense, raw beauty—but also of hidden dangers. The voyage from Sol to Delta Octantis took three hundred years of warp-speed travel. A forward team was sent six years before the Telemachus to prepare Kamaria. This crew named their first colony Odysseus.
Lung-lock, an airborne bacteria that permeated throughout Kamaria, paralyzed human lungs. This affliction slowly killed off many of the Odysseus colonists. A cure was on the cusp of completion, but it was missing a key component.
A new threat.
Scouts searched Kamaria for a cure to lung-lock. In their desperate search, they stumbled upon a mysterious crypt. Inside, they found the body of a creature they called the Siren. Unbeknownst to the scouts, the Siren was not as dead as she first appeared. Her phantom possessed the body of Captain Roelin Raike and wore him like a mask. The colonists had no idea of the danger lurking among them.
A stranger visits.
The native Kamarians, the Auk’nai, kept their distance from the human colonists. They were an advanced race of humanoid bird-people with a mental sensitivity to empathic wavelengths. One lone auk’nai, Mag’Ro, made contact with Dr. Eliana Veston and provided the last element needed to cure lung-lock. In exchange, she gave him a weapon, unsure what he would do with it.
A terrible tragedy.
The Siren—Nhymn, as she would later be called—used Roelin’s body as a weapon. In a night of carnage, she murdered several colonists and fled in a warship named the Astraeus. Nhymn took Roelin as her prisoner and disappeared into the wilderness. For years, no one knew what had become of the Siren and her hostage.
The Telemachus arrived.
Years passed since the massacre, and time had slowly healed the colony. Odysseus had grown into a city. Humanity had gained its foothold on Kamaria. Their numbers were low, their progress steady. Relations with the auk’nai hesitantly improved.
The Siren returned.
A clue led a scout team to Nhymn’s hidden location in the Sharp Top mountains, nestled deep within the Tangle Maze jungle. Upon discovering the missing Astraeus warship, the scouts were attacked by Nhymn. She killed half of them and took the rest hostage.
Her dark goals.
Nhymn needed to repair the Astraeus to find her sister, Sympha. She used a young man named Denton Castus to fix the downed ship. He did his job well, and Nhymn carried out her mission of reuniting with Sympha, taking over her body and powers. Nhymn, now more powerful than ever, vanished into the wilderness for a month. Her actions during this time were unknown.
Denton Castus had his own secrets. In all, there had been three Sirens; Nhymn, Sympha, and Karx. Karx found Denton and tried to warn him about Nhymn, leaping into Denton’s mind to vacate his own failing body. The combination of Karx and Denton resulted in a mental tether forming between them. Denton was able to walk through Karx’s memories as a shade. He learned the origin of the Sirens.
After vanishing for a month, Nhymn reappeared with devastation. The auk’nai city of Apusticus was rendered to ash by her power. Mag’Ro was killed, and the surviving auk’nai fled their destroyed city to warn the humans of her approach.
A final battle.
The auk’nai allied with the humans of Odysseus and headed off Nhymn in the Unforgotten Garden. Many died that day, both human and auk’nai. Things grew desperate as the Siren gained the advantage.
Tethers linked. Tethers snapped.
Denton Castus, Roelin Raike, and Sympha distracted Nhymn long enough so that the human and auk’nai defenses could find a way to destroy her. Roelin and Sympha were killed during the battle, but they had been successful in their task. Under Eliana’s suggestion, the Telemachus was smashed into Nhymn. The Siren had been crushed, and the battle ended.
Sirens are immortal.
The body of Nhymn had been destroyed, but it was known she would return. Denton’s previous shade walking confirmed that Sirens live on past their physical deaths. Three years after the final battle, Nhymn came back. She begged to be sent away from Kamaria, a request the people of Kamaria gleefully fulfilled. Her reasons for leaving remained a mystery.
Prize: A paperback copy of On the Winds of Quasars by T. A. Bruno – US Only
Starts: September 19th, 2021 at 12:00am EST
Ends: September 26th, 2021 at 11:59pm EST
Click here or on the banner below to enter!
Meet the Author
T. A. Bruno grew up in a suburb south of Chicago and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the film industry. Since then, he has brought stories to life for over a decade as a previsualization artist. At home, he is the proud father of two boys and a husband to a wonderful wife. He released his debut novel, In the Orbit of Sirens, amid a global pandemic in 2020, and it has won multiple awards.