Thursday, January 8, 2009

Written on

The Bestest of the Weirdest, Part III: KNIGHT OF A TRILLION STARS

Dara Joy’s KNIGHT OF A TRILLION STARS knows no boundaries, and thank Venus for that. I’m including this book in the Bestest of the Weirdest series because not only does the story break rules, it does so with gleeful abandon. Dara Joy’s unique voice is, in a word, wild.

The first in a trilogy known as the "Matrix of Destiny" (take that, Wachowski brothers!), this is the type of science fiction romance that probably won’t be written anymore (except maybe as a parody), but it deserves accolades nonetheless for the spirit in which it was written.

Here’s the basic blurb from the publisher’s Web site:

Fired from her job, exhausted from her miserable Boston commute, the last thing Deana Jones needs when she gets home is to find an alien in her living room. He says his name is Lorgin and that she is part of his celestial destiny. Deana thinks his reasoning is ridiculous, and she knows he is making an error of cosmic proportions. But his touch is electric and his arms strong, and when she first feels the sizzling impact of his uncontrollable desire, Deana starts to wonder if maybe their passion is indeed written in the stars.

Indeed. Below is why I'll be forever dazzled by this keeper of a tale:

The title

Remember the scene in RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER when Santa Claus, upon seeing Rudolph’s glowing nose, exclaims, “That nose!” Well, that about explains my reaction when I read “That title!”

First of all, it’s a rare five word title (for romances). In this case, the length works because it hints at the sex-stuffed epic tale within. The hero is an actual knight (from an alternate dimension), so the first word clearly conveys that an Alpha male prowls the pages.

Next, we have use of the word “trillion.” Not million, not billion. Trillion. If one has any doubts about hero Lorgin’s virility, they end with that superb stroke of foreshadowing. As with the title word count, “trillion” also works to give the story scope. “Stars,” of course, informs us that the story takes place in the future. (Er, kind of, because it begins in a contemporary setting.)

The cover


Oddly enough, this is one case where the images on the cover pretty much match the characters. Even the band around heroine Deana Jones’ neck reflects an aspect of the story. Gotta love that heart with the ring around it! It’s an interesting bit of retro futuristic romance cover accessory. The more I look at it, the more I laugh because it’s such in-your-face marketing, but then I realize that the cosmic hot pink symbol is totally sucking me into the whole mood of the book. How did they know this would happen to me?!

Lorgin’s shaft light saber

The Weirdest Moment Award in KNIGHT OF A TRILLION STARS goes to the scene in which Lorgin brandishes a light saber (and that wasn’t spoiling anything as it happens in the first chapter). And...it’s described specifically as a “light saber!” All I can say is, Dara Joy has balls of brass.

The plot of diminishing returns


When I finished this book, I realized that the experience was the first time in my life that I’ve read a science fiction romance or an SF book where the fundamental plot ebbs away with each turn of the page. As Spock would say of the barely there plot, “Fascinating!” That factor alone was enough to keep me reading—just to see what would happen, naturally—but there are so many other fireworks happening in the meantime that it’s impossible to look away.

This is a quest story, which leads me to another unusual aspect about it: the structure was atypical for a romance book, at least in my experience. The structure was closer to what you’d find in a Tolkienesque fantasy.

And whatta fantasy! The tale abounds with wizards and staffs and Yoda-speak intermingled with wormholes and psychic powers and exotic worlds. Honestly, this book is like STAR WARS, LORD OF THE RINGS and EMMANUELLE(?) rolled into one. Half of me is amazed that Dara Joy pulled it off, and the other half thinks, that’s just weird!

Lorgin and Deana

These two are the least unusual elements of the book: Endearingly arrogant Alpha male + Sweet, innocent heroine=

More sex than you can shake Lorgin’s light saber shaft at


I started this book knowing next to nothing about the plot. I only skimmed the jacket copy. Well, color me naïve because I thought I was getting a blend of SF and romance—not wall-to-wall sex scenes. Those alone help account for the hefty page count.

The most imaginative sex scene happens on top of a camel-like animal. Never mind that in real life such a creature would emit strange odors, feel unusual between one’s thighs, and make bizarre sounds during the act, Lorgin—I mean, the alien camel—actually makes for a quite titillating catalyst for doing the deed.

What also struck me was the presence of a "shape changer" who is a great secondary character (Rejar gets his own story in the imaginatively titled, of all things, REJAR). Then there was the very erotic feel every sexual encounter had. All of this was found in KNIGHT OF A TRILLION STARS long before the wave of scorching paranormal romances and the current erotic romance boom.

Sure, KNIGHT OF A TRILLION STARS isn’t quite THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Yet despite all of its flaws, the story is never, ever boring, and that's more than I can say for some tales with light sabers--illicit or not. (*ahem* Right, Jar Jar?)

Joyfully yours,

Heather