Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro (Saga of the Skolian Empire 1)

This is Catherine Asaro’s first published novel and new to me. Physicist and ballerina, hmm wonder what kind of books she writes. Read the review below to find out.

Title: Primary Inversion
Series: Saga of the Skolian Empire
Author: Catherine Asaro
Cover art: Ron Walothsky
Paperback: 384 pages | Audiobook: 10h 59 min
Grene: Romantic Science Fiction | Military Science Fiction
Publisher: Tor Books 1995
Order: Tor | Amazon US | UK | B&N | Free Online

The Skolian Empire rules a third of the civilized galaxy through its mastery of faster-than-light communication. But war with the rival empire of the Traders seems imminent, a war that can only lead to slavery for the Skolians or the destruction of both sides. Destructive skirmishes have already occurred. A desperate attempt must be made to avert total disaster.

The Author

Catherine Asaro is pretty new to me; I picked up the first books the summer of 2009. She has an impressive background; she was a professor in physics until 1990; she is a member of SIGMA, a think tank of speculative writers that advises the government as to future trends affecting national security and she is a former ballerina. She is married to Kendall Cannizzo, and astrophysicist at NASA and they have one daughter


This is Catherine Asaro’s first published novel, her first novella Light and Shadow was published 1994 in Analog.

The book is dedicated to her husband Kendall Cannizzo with love.

The protagonist of this book is Sauscony Lahaylia Valdoria Skolia, also called Soz or Soshoni. She is a member of the Ruby Dynasty ruling the Skolian Empire and has the empathic and telepathic abilities of a Rhon psion. She ranks Jagernaut Primary (Admiral or General) in the ISC. A Jagernaut is a biomechanically enhanced fighter and pilot.

I suspect but don’t know that Catherine is of Finnish Swedish speaking descent as many of her terms make sense for me in Swedish. Skola is the Swedish word for school and is also used to in expressions concerning knowledge. Jägare is the Swedish word for hunter or in Finland it is what they call their Special Forces soldiers.


In the universe of the Saga of the Skolian Empire there are two mayor power blocks that locked in conflict the Skolian Empire and the Eubian Concord. It seems like the Eubian Concord is the original aggressors, they have a society built on might is right, where their leaders basically are mental vampires that keep empaths as slaves to feed on. While the The Skolian Empire built on the power of faster than light communications made possible by linking the mental powers of the powerful empaths that rule it.

We get to know quite a bit about the social and political situation in both empires. Soz thinks of the Skolian Empire as the good guys, but that might not be totally true. It is not according to the people of the planets they occupy to ‘save’ them from the Concord.

You will also notice that Catherine is a physicist in the info dumps about future technology even if Psionics might take you into the land of fantasy.


The book is divided into three parts Delos, Forshire Hold, Diesha.

A romance is central to the story but it is also about two Empires on the brink of a major war our protagonist wants to avoid.

Delos tells the story of how Romeo and Julia, sorry Soz and Jaibriol Qox II meet. Like Soz, Jaibriol is also a Rhon psion, but he was also a member of the Aristo Highton caste and heir to the enemy of Skolians, the Eubian Concord.

Fordshire Hold is where Soz goes to heal after the fateful space battle that cripples her best friend and lover.

Diesha is when she realizes she have to rescue Jairiol who have been captured by Skolian forces.


The characters are complex even if they have a romance novel feel to them at times. Soz have many inner demons and doubts to fight, she is also the only character that is well developed, which is understandable since she is the protagonist, and the story is about her.

The Fordshire Hold part of the book is where Soz grows most as a character and comes to realize the world is more than she thought it was, that was a part I liked to read.

My View

Primary Inversion is a fantastic first novel with remarkable storytelling by Catherine Asaro. It is a Romantic science fiction with space opera, military scifi and hard science influence about a formidable yet human Julia character and it avoids the usual pitfalls of that genre, it is not action packed but there is enough thrill to go around. It reads well as a standalone novel. I will read The Radiant Seas that continues Soz’s story next.