Review: “Guilt in Innocence,” Keith R.A. DeCandido

Pros: Engrossing action and characters
Cons: Telepathic abilities don’t feel consistent
Rating: 4 out of 5

Keith R.A. DeCandido is the author of Guilt in Innocence (Tales of the Scattered Earth Book 4), Tales of the Olodumere Hegemony Book 1. The Scattered Earth is a multi-author world; the Olodumere Hegemony is DeCandido’s portion of that world. I have not read other Scattered Earth books, and didn’t have any trouble reading this volume on its own.

Folami is an Ori-Inu, a telepath/telekinetic who works as an agent for the government. When other Ori-Inu go missing and the man sent to investigate the disappearances is nearly killed in a massive explosion, she and a bunch of other Ori-Inu are sent to figure out what’s going on. When Folami is exposed to an unknown gas, the memory-wipe that’s used on all Ori-Inu when they finish training begins to fade, and she starts to remember who she is, what she’s done, and what she’s really capable of. An old friend of hers, Oranmiyan, returns from the dead, and starts insisting that they can be free. But his true aims could be deadly.

I think DeCandido’s greatest asset in this book is his ability to create characters with real depth and interest. They feel so well-rounded and full of life. Details just naturally layer themselves as the story progresses to create rich, complex personalities. I’m also fascinated by the place the Ori-Inu occupy in things. They’re feared and hated by many, but they also save a lot of lives and do great things for the Hegemony. I’d like to see more of the non-military culture in the Hegemony now that we’ve seen so much of the military culture.

The one complaint I have is that Folami’s telepathic and telekinetic abilities (and sometimes those of other people) don’t seem to be used consistently. Particularly once we find out about some of the things Folami’s done in the past, it seems hard to understand how easily she uses up her psychic resources in the present. It’s also very convenient how she starts running out of psychic strength, has to be clever, then has the strength she needs the next time the plot calls for it, repeatedly. This is, of course, one of the problems with trying to write for a character who has such wide-ranging and powerful abilities, and DeCandido doesn’t entirely manage to pull it off.

All in all, though, I really enjoyed Guilt in Innocence. There were plenty of surprises, there’s clever plotting, and the characters just wowed me.

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