COMMENCEMENT by Roby James
Del Rey February 1996; $5.99 paperback 345 pages; ISBN 0-345-40038-0
Possessor of a rare power, Ronica McBride has been groomed from childhood in her duty
towards her people. She can make no sense of her situation when she awakes beside a burning shuttle; hurt, alone, and without her greatest power. She is on an unknown world, with no memory of her recent past and no idea how she got there. Sold to the leader of a tribe of primitive nomads, she is urged to forget her old life. No one ever leaves this world, she is told. Unable to accept her new life and unwilling to give up her old one, she is caught in crisis. What is it that she can't remember? Why does that blank place cause her fear and pain? How did she lose the power that has defined her life? How will she survive without it? As she begins to find a place for herself in this new world, Ronica realizes that for the first time in her life, she can form close relationships with others separate from the competitiveness and self-protection of her old life. Her growing feelings for Jemeret are a new experience for her, and she recognizes the bond between them as something she had never thought to find. As the pieces of her missing past come back to her, she flings herself headlong toward a confrontation with the memory of the tragedy that has already destroyed her once.
COMMENCEMENT is a compelling and emotionally charged read. The developing relationship
with Jemeret and Ronica's growth as an individual are both fascinating to follow. While I was a
little bit uncomfortable with Jemeret in the dual roles of all-powerful, all-knowing teacher and that of
lover and soul mate (my personal belief is that the relationship is a bit too unequal for long term
success without a drastic shift of some sort), the story worked very, very well. I cared about these
characters, I was engrossed in the unfolding mystery of what happened to Ronica and what was
-going- to happen next. COMMENCEMENT is a ferociously good read, and Roby James is a
writer to watch for.
Reviewed by Jeri Wright 7/22/97
Copyright by Under the Covers, 1997
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