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Rebel Ice: A Stardoc Novel    by S. L. Viehl order for
Rebel Ice
by S. L. Viehl
Order:  USA  Can
Roc, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Rebel Ice is the sixth installment in the exciting Stardoc series, whose physician heroine Dr. Cherijo Torin is 'a fugitive genetic construct' who careens around the universe healing the weak and downtrodden, while hiding from the all powerful pursuers who want her back as an experimental subject. She's married to Duncan Reever - whose upbringing by the alien Hsktskt eradicated human emotions - and they have a small daughter, Marel, who can teleport.

However, as Rebel Ice opens, readers learn that Cherijo has been separated from her loved ones on the Jorenian ship Sunlace and sold to slavers, eventually crash landing on Akkabarr. This planet, whose vicious upper atmosphere currents make standard surface-to-space transport impossible, has been turned by the Toskald into a storage depot and armory for a multitude of worlds. The Iisleg, human tribes descended from former Toskald slaves, survive on the surface by salvaging shipwrecks of those who try to raid the planet for its weapons store.

The puzzle that drives this Stardoc episode is that there are two tough amnesiac healers amongst the outcast, untouchable skela (handlers of the dead) on Akkabarr, and it's not clear at all which of Resa and Jarn is Cherijo Torin. Duncan, who has vowed to find his missing wife, makes a dangerous journey to the planet's surface, where he is soon in the middle of an Iisleg rebellion, led by a Jorenian, who had been a Toskald slave. The skela, too, help the rebels, disguised as faceless Vral, instruments of the gods.

There are battles and treachery, a capture and a rescue, leading up to a grand finale in which the League and Hsktskt are involved and forced to back off. And Chorijo is reunited with her family again - a husband and daughter of whom she has no memories at all. It will be interesting to see where S.L. Viehl takes this long-running series next.

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