Barons of Oartheca

Book Two of the Oarthecan Star Saga

Fiction - LGBTQ
368 Pages
Reviewed on 03/21/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Matt Lebois for Readers' Favorite

Barons of Oartheca is an ambitious genre-blending space adventure, the second book in James Siewert’s Oarthecan Star Saga, and the merest taste of it will compel you to seek out the first book with haste. It launches into action at lightspeed with a vicious alien assault and kidnapping of the first main character: Toar, one of the bear-like humanoid race of Oarthecans who will fascinate readers on this journey. Toar’s main goal is protecting and rescuing the titular Barons, the physically weaker breeding-class members of this all-male race, from the dominating, insectoid Pryok’tel and other extraterrestrial hazards. Meanwhile, Rowland Hale, human rogue space captain and cybernetic hacker, risks interstellar warfare as he leads his crew on his own perilous mission to rescue Toar, the man-bear he loves against all odds.

I was continually entranced by the well-thought-out complexities of Oarthecan society, a mammalian eusocial race with a rich culture guided by its biology, history, and spirituality, and how these factors interacted with the impossible romance between Rowland and Toar. I loved the intelligent design that went into crafting every species, technology, and character to create a believable, living universe. The detailed and cohesive science fiction elements are balanced so well with the honest, heartfelt, and hot M/M xeno-romance that the book is utterly unique. Both sides of this genre mashup are treated with utter seriousness without ever losing sight of the fun, joy, and hope inherent in each. James Siewert's Barons of Oartheca is a smart solarpunk explicit romance; it’s a deep alien ethnographic study wrapped in a rollicking space adventure; it’s a shining example of authentic and hopeful sci-fi for open-minded modern readers.

K.C. Finn

Barons of Oartheca is a work of fiction in the adventure, science fiction, and LGBTQ+ subgenres, and forms the second installment of the Oarthecan Star Saga. It is intended for mature readers owing to explicit sexual content and was penned by author James Siewert. In this romantic space adventure with plenty of thrills and heat, we find our central couple Rowland Hale and Toar Grithrawrscion torn apart by duties that take them to different parts of the galaxy. Burning to reunite with one another, these two intrepid figures must battle external forces and their own inner turmoil in order to find each other, and find happiness once again.

I’m a huge fan of LGBTQ+ fiction, especially when it tackles a genre where there isn’t usually much representation, and author James Siewert has certainly breathed new life into science fiction with this superb and spicy work. Toar and Rowland were realistically portrayed characters, and I loved seeing their relationship grow and shift as it was put to the test by the many unexpected and thrilling twists of the plot. I also really enjoyed the smoothness of the dialogue, which felt appropriately cinematic in the big ‘wow’ moments of the story but was also sensitive and empathetic during the more intimate and quieter emotional scenes. Overall, I would certainly recommend Barons of Oartheca to fans of the series so far, and James Siewert as a fantastic M/M romance and adventure author for readers seeking something original, exciting, and representative in the science fiction genre.

Jamie Michele

Barons of Oartheca by James Siewert is the second book in the science fiction Oarthecan Star Saga series, preceded by book one, Allure of Oartheca. This installment picks up in the near-immediate aftermath of where the first left us. The former Oarth captain Toar Grithrawrscion must now pay dearly for breaking the no-human-contact decree by saving human male Captain Rowland Hale and, together, recovering a cloaking device from the dangerous alien race, the Pryok’tel, who holds him prisoner. His circumventing of Pryok’tel wrath puts him in the company of Barons, the natural counterparts of Toar's kind, who seem to know absolutely nothing of how all things Oartheca work. Worse still, the company also puts them all in grave danger—and drives the eternal and deep love of Toar's life, Rowland, on a dangerous mission to bring Toar home.

I was fortunate enough to read book one in the series and my excitement when I saw Barons of Oartheca drop was made known to the neighbors through a high-pitched squeal. James Siewert knows how to craft a story that embodies action, romance, sizzle, adventure, more sizzle, peril, and even more sizzle like nobody's business. Toar is as delicious and wonderful as ever, and Rowland comes across as a true friend to the Oarth in a big way. There is a moment where Rowland is meeting Toar's father for the first time and even though the circumstances kind of stink, it is a turning point in a story of two males with no real way of ever being properly together. The first-person narratives allow us inside both of their minds and the dialogue is authentic and intelligent. Once more, Siewert delivers a pitch-perfect novel in a series I could not believe would get even better.

Clarissa Pattern

I was incredibly excited to get this book early as an ARC as I utterly adored the first novel and have been recommending it to everyone. With this second book in the series, the Oarthecan Star Saga continues to be one of my favourite space stories ever. It has elements of everything I love about genre fiction, amazing fantastical landscapes and world building expertly entwined with real exploration of what it means to be human, but for me the characters are what really makes this novel zing. 'Barons' continues the structure of the original novel, with the same dual first person narration from the human, Rowland, and Oarthecan, Toar. Both have distinct and compelling voices and it’s a pleasure to spend time within their thoughts. Having such queer positive characters at the centre of a well written science fiction book is something to be absolutely treasured.

I don’t want to spoil any plot points, but like the first novel I will say this is a dangerous world and 'Barons' is a high action read with the many cliffhangers making it a delectable page turner that I finished in the middle of the night as I couldn’t get to sleep without knowing what happened. Although then I felt bereft when I finished as I was still craving more! I hope James Siewert is a fast writer as I can’t wait to read the next part of this saga. Until then I will have to make do with rereading these first two books.