This is the second S. L. Viehl book I've read. The first one, Blade Dancer was reviewed here.
When I read Blade Dancer, I looked at the amazon reviews for it and noticed someone say that it was the same story as Stardoc. In a way they are very similar. In both stories there is a smart female heroine who isn't afraid to stand up for herself, that flees Earth (Terra), has a maniacal father who tries to control her, a dead mother with a last wish for her daughter, and spends a lot of time in the book working through trials to learn and prove herself in her chosen career. The general similarities are astonishing, but I still think these are very different stories and very different characters.
Cherijo Grey Veil is a brilliant Terran surgeon who discovers something about her father that causes her to run away and take an assignment at a free clinic light years away from his influence in Kevarzangia Two. Because of the racism of the Terrans and her sheltered life in Terra, Cherijo has never met many aliens before. Let alone treat them. So she endures many trials and tribulations learning about all the species of aliens that live in K2. She also endures hostility from coworkers and others. Meanwhile her father – a very rich, famous and extremely powerful man in Terra (with Machiavellian tendencies), wants her to come back home and is willing to use his influence to get her back any way he can.
Viehl has a very easy writing style, and the book is from the first person point of view of Cherijo, so the reader gets to learn about the alien species at the same time Cherijo does. I liked her character - intelligent and professional, but also willing to argue her points and defend herself. Which is a good thing because she needs it. I thought this was just as enjoyable as Blade Dancer, though the excitement came in the form of Cherijo racing against time to save lives rather than fighting like Jory does. Slowly, patient by patient, through her own hard work she proves herself in the alien landscape and makes a lot of allies. Viehl does a good job in describing easy friendships and bonding. I think she just explains relationships well. Speaking of – there is some romance as Cherijo falls for an alien, but there is another possible love interest as well.
This is also the first book in a series, but the story felt self contained – no giant cliffhanger, thank goodness. And while this is a science fiction novel, it wasn't hard science fiction, which made it a fun, satisfying read for me. There were no difficult lessons, just a straight story about a young woman's fight for her independence. I think I've found an author who I can expect page-turning and fun science fiction from.
My general feeling - 8 (Really liked it) / Plot - 7.5 (Really liked it) / Writing style - 7 (Easy to get absorbed by)
By the way, if you liked this you will probably like Warchild by Karin Lowachee (OK that book was AMAZING, so if you DIDN'T like this book, but you like Ender's Game you will like Warchild).
TBR @ 99 (I stupidly keep getting books. Why do I even bother keeping count? Will it ever be at 50? I don't know).