This is the full length novel of the short story previously published in the anthology "More than Honor".
Book One of the Star Kingdom saga.
Weber delivers the first entry in an original young adult science fiction adventure series, the Star Kingdom saga! Young teen Stephanie Harrington forms a telepathic bond with an intelligent alien treecat on a pioneer planet—and must fight for the freedom of her new friend and his species against highly-placed enemies determined to claim the world for humans only.
Stephanie Harrington always expected to be a forest ranger on her homeworld of Meyerdahl . . . until her parents relocated to the frontier planet of Sphinx in the far distant Star Kingdom of Manticore. It should have been the perfect new home --- a virgin wilderness full of new species of every sort, just waiting to be discovered. But Sphinx is a far more dangerous place than ultra-civilized Meyerdahl, and Stephanie’s explorations come to a sudden halt when her parents lay down the law: no trips into the bush without adult supervision!
Yet Stephanie is a young woman determined to make discoveries, and the biggest one of all awaits her: an intelligent alien species.
The forest-dwelling treecats are small, cute, smart, and have a pronounced taste for celery. And they are also very, very deadly when they or their friends are threatened . . . as Stephanie discovers when she comes face-to-face with Sphinx’s most lethal predator after a hang-gliding accident.
But her discoveries are only beginning, for the treecats are also telepathic and able to bond with certain humans, and Stephanie’s find --- and her first-of-its kind bond with the treecat Climbs Quickly --- land both of them in a fresh torrent of danger. Galactic-sized wealth is at stake, and Stephanie and the treecats are squarely in the path of highly placed enemies determined to make sure the planet Sphinx remains entirely in human hands, even if that means the extermination of another thinking species.
Unfortunately for those enemies, the treecats have saved Stephanie Harrington’s life. She owes them . . . and Stephanie is a young woman who stands by her friends.
Which means things are about to get very interesting on Sphinx.
The story takes place in the year 1518 PD (Post Diaspora) or 3620 AD, approximately 382 years before the events of "On Basilisk Station". The story centers around the first treecat/human interaction on the planet sphinx.
Climbs Quickly, a young treecat scout of the Bright Water clan, ventures to a human settlement intrigued by the plant known to the treecats as "cluster stalk", a plant unlike any known to the 'cats, with a delicious taste.
Stephanie Harrington, an eleven-year-old girl whose family has recently migrated to Sphinx from the planet Meyerdahl is determined to find out who keeps stealing celery from greenhouses and gardens all over Sphinx.
In the middle of a nightime thunderstorm, Stephanie finally catches Climbs Quickly sneaking out of the greenhouse. The two young beings experience a moment of deep psychic connection, the first bonding between a human and a treecat has just occurred.
Wanting to know more about the treecat, Stephanie sets out to track them, with consequences she could not of thought could happen....Stephanie crashes her glider during a storm, and Climbs Quickly comes to her rescue, unfortunately a six legged beast sees Stephanie as a meal and between her and the treecat they battle for their lives.
Once this new species is public knowledge the rest of the Star Kingdom wants to know more about them, but it is not just the scientific community who are interested. Trade in obscure pets is lucrative, and the treecats are definitely obscure. What follows is how Stephanie and the scientists must protect the species.
At 384 pages this took me about 6 - 8 hours to read. The story flows easily and the short story that I previously read takes up about the first third of the novel. It is not just a reprint, but the author embelishes the short story and really does set the scene for the rest of the novel.
I enjoyed the story, however, the ending seemed a bit abrupt, almost as tho the deadline was looming and it had to be finished quickly. I'm hoping the second book will not dissapoint.