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Acorna's Rebels

by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

(US edition: Eos, US$24.95 / Canada$38.95, 308 pages, hardback, 2003; ISBN: 0-380-97899-7. UK edition: Corgi, £5.99, 380 pages, paperback, published 4 December 2003; ISBN: 0-552-15135-1.)

cover scan (US edition)Three stars.

First dragons, now unicorns! Anne McCaffrey has an unparalleled knack for taking the motifs of fantasy and casting them flawlessly as science fiction. In this case, the "unicorn girl" of the title is Acorna, a member of the Linyaari race. Mainly humanoid in form, she has the hooves and the magical horn of classical unicorns ... combined with a brilliant grasp of science and economics that make her a formidable force. If you haven't met her yet, go back and start with Acorna: The Unicorn Girl.

In this book, the Linyaari have begun to reclaim their ravaged homeworld of Vhiliinyar. Acorna is determined to search for her cover scan (UK edition)lost love, Aari, with the help of her friends Becker and Nadhari. But less-than-reliable equipment causes their ship, the Condor, to make a rough landing on Makahomia. Home of the famous Makahomian Temple Cats -- and the resourceful Nadhari -- the planet offers many challenges. Politics and culture collide as the situation reveals a devastating plague among the cats. Acorna feels bound to rescue them, but apparently not everyone wants them rescued.

Acorna's tale continues to unfold. For every complication solved, three new ones spring up to take its place. She makes a sweet and engaging hera, capable of carrying on her own story long before she had a hero to share it with -- and he's gone missing in action anyhow. The Linyaari are an interesting race, gentle and innocent but no longer naïve. Check out the terrific notes on their language at the back of this book.

Acorna's Rebels is a must for McCaffrey fans. Anyone owned by cats will also enjoy it, as will those fond of unicorns. Recommended.

Review by Elizabeth Barrette.

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