Posted by Arthur W. Jordin on 3/18/2003
Acorna's Rebels is the sixth novel in the Acorna series, following Acorna's Search. In the previous volume, Acorna has found a hidden city on Vhiliinyar where she was transported to the past. While she was away, her mate Aari has also traveled back in time searching for her and was still gone when she returned to the present.
In this novel, Acorna is spending her time refining and re-refining the design for restoration of Vhiliinyar while waiting for Aari to return. Jonas and Roadkill, the Makahomian temple cat, convince her to relax a little and accompany them back to the Moon of Opportunity to visit their friends. Once there, Hafiz talks Acorna into visiting Nirii as an emissary of the Linyaari to solicit additional help in restoring Vhiliinyar and, incidentally, to take the Wats (unicorn hunters from ancient times) away from his wife, Karina. They also persuade Nadhari to go along to provide security.
While enroute to Nirii in Condor, Jonas' conglomerate of a ship, RK bumps the warp controls and sends them to an unexpected destination. In the emergency, the warp computer and long range communicator have been rendered inoperative and they are forced to send out a mayday signal. They are rescued by an agricultural implements saleman, Scaradine MacDonald, who tows them to the nearest repair yard with his tractor beam. By some odd chance, this yard is located on Nadhari's home planet, Makahomia, and there they are introduced to Nadhari's cousin, Mulzar Edo Kando sach Pilau dom Mog-Gim, Temporal Ruler of the City of Hassim and the Mog-Dim Plateau. Nadhari is not very pleased to see her cousin and subsequent events show that he is not very popular with his subjects either.
Soon Acorna learns that the Makahomian temple cats in the city are dying of a mysterious plague and quickly visits the temple to save four of them. However, the plague seems to be spreading elsewhere on the planet and infecting other animals and even people. Acorna is determined to use her healing talents wherever they are needed, but soon learns that Mulzar is trying to use these talents to justify a war of conquest to bring the rest of the planet under his rule. Moreover, Acorna is having dreams of Aari in connection with Makahomia itself.
Another complication is the harsh penalties against the possession of temple cats outside the temples. While RK has been thought to be a temple cat, it quickly becomes obviously that he is a prime specimen of the breed and therefore jailbait for Jonas and company if RK is discovered aboard. However, RK has his own agenda and is able to come and go as he pleases, despite every effort to restrict him. Moreover, RK decides that now is the time to initiate telepathic contact with Acorna, so that she can be aware of his desires while away from his presence. For a change, RK's efforts to repopulate the planet with his own progeny is greatly appreciated by a people deprived of so many of their own temple cats.
This story is a pleasure to read. While it doesn't require any heavy cogitation, it will keep the reader enthralled for several hour and leave a pleasant emotional aftereffect.
Recommended for McCaffrey & Scarborough fans and anyone who enjoys light SF entertainment with a positive ending.