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Cagebird    by Karin Lowachee order for
by Karin Lowachee
Order:  USA  Can
Aspect, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Karin Lowachee, author of Warchild and Burndive, brings us thrilling SF set in the same universe (and bringing back some familiar characters) in Cagebird. It's the story of Yuri Kirov (aka Terisov), whose home colony was destroyed by the alien strits. Yuri was enticed as a child out of his barren Colonial Grace refugee camp by pirates, and by his friend Bo-Sheng, and made protegé of ruthless pirate Captain Marcus (aka Falcone) on the Genghis Khan.

As the story opens, Yuri is in military prison for life. He has grown to care for his cellmate Finch. Now Earthhub Black Ops agents, Luckacs and O'Neill, use that against him, blackmailing Yuri into working with them against his former pirate shipmates. But he manages to take Finch with him, and as events unfold, readers win glimpses into Yuri's backstory. We see an abandoned, intelligent child, generally spoiled and treated well by pirate captain and crew, but gradually conditioned to accept abuse, and then forced to do the unthinkable. Falcone exploited Yuri's love for an older boy, Estienne. Though Yuri sometimes fought back, the odds were against him, leading to the lifetime prison sentence.

After his release is engineered by Black Ops, Yuri takes back his old ship Kublai Khan from his enemy Taja, and negotiates with another ex-shipmate, pirate leader Caligtiera. He discovers that the pirates plan to take out Hub ship Archangel, and that Luckacs considers this acceptable collateral damage (O'Neill does not). Yuri tries to get a message to Macedon's Captain Azarcon, the man who hates him for attempting to kill his son Ryan in Burndive. A convoluted series of events unfold, resulting in Azarcon and Yuri coming face to face, and Yuri making an important life decision, after being advised to 'Listen to your future, not your past.'

Karin Lowachee has developed an intriguing universe, one filled with brutality, depravity and war, yet peopled with credible characters, who do terrible things, but are ultimately offered the possibility of redemption. If you enjoyed the previous two books in the series, you'll like Cagebird, which nicely fills in Yuri's story.

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