It wouldn’t be Christmas without…The League of Elder.
Well, it seems that for the past couple years, I usually have a new volume of Ren Garcia’s sci-fi series in my hands around this time. This year is no exception with book 9 of his unique universe, Stenibelle, but one must back up a bit for those not familiar with the books.
The series has a couple self-contained stories (the first two books, then a trilogy, then another dualogy, etc.), and I always recommend starting at the beginning, but here we will go back to book 6, Sands of the Solar Empire.
This is where we are introduced to Paymaster Stenstrom who has had one dream: Becoming a captain in the Fleet. He gets his chance, but his life is never the same (if it was, it wouldn’t be very interesting). Set in Garcia’s unique sci-fi/fantasy/steampunk universe of the far future, Stenstrom faces evils, bizarre beings and death around every corner — only to learn there are many more versions of himself in alternate dimensions.
That’s where Stenibelle falls into place. In this dimension Stenstrom has lost his ship, ended up in jail and lost pretty much everything. And he isn’t a he — Stenstrom is Stenibelle, a woman. No, this isn’t what is sounds like, but it isn’t the typical parallel universe story either. In what is the author’s shortest book, it is almost like an alternate version of the previous volumes. Not word for word, but a tiny glimpse of what the Stenstrom books would have been like had the character been a woman. Steinbelle, though, is different enough (beyond the obvious) from her parallel self that fans may want to see her own adventures in the League. By the end of this book, she has become a strong, fierce hero of sorts — and still very much a woman.
The League is a big place and readers looking to disappear in a universe that doesn’t look like a hundred others, need to look no further.