Saga of the Skolian Empire
The Saga of the Skolian Empire, informally called the Skolian Saga or Tales of the Ruby Dynasty, is a series of science fiction novels, novelettes and novellas by Catherine Asaro, revolving around characters from an interstellar empire known as the Skolian Empire and their power struggle with the rival Eubian Concord. The plot of the book unfolds over several generations of characters and revolves around political intrigues, but also contains subplots regarding physics, bio-enhancements, virtual computer networks, romance, mathematics, and military conflict as it is affected by supraluminal space travel.
- 1 Political background
- 2 Jagernauts
- 3 Main characters of the Ruby Dynasty
- 4 Lyshriol
- 5 Works published in series
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The Ruby Dynasty, the ancient rulers of the Skolian Empire, while possessing empathic and telepathic abilities enhanced by "pico" and "nano" technology, comprise a monarchy plagued by internal struggle and conflict with the elected Assembly.
The Eubian Traders, on the other hand, while larger in number and more successful economically, comprise a society built entirely of a slave hierarchy run by Aristos, who have been genetically engineered and have no capability for compassion, but rather experience pleasure in the form of "transcendence" through the projected suffering of powerful psions that have been kidnapped from the Skolian Imperialate.
A third but much smaller group, the Allieds, are an extension of a present-day Earth civilization who enter space travel only to find all worlds are already inhabited and thriving under either the Skolian or Eubian Empire. Their role in the series is that of a neutral party, interested only in the cessation of hostilities.
Jagernauts are fictional soldiers in the Saga of the Skolian Empire by Catherine Asaro. They are members of the J-Force, which is an ISC elite fighting division composed of independent fighter pilots who engage in small squadron combat with the Eubians.
Jagernauts are psions with high Kyle Ratings, generally full empaths or even telepaths, with even a few Rhon serving as well. Their telepathic or empathic abilities mean that they function best when there is no crew (and their corresponding thoughts) to interfere with a Jagernaut's concentration. As such, they generally engage in battle in small squadrons, bound to their singe-pilot craft called "Jags" in a near symbiosis of human and machine. A Jagernaut has "psiphon" sockets which allow them to interface their body directly with spacecraft. Their mind links directly to the ship's EI, and together they control all aspects of the ship.
A Jagernaut is enhanced with biomechanics. Bioplastics and other materials enhance their muscles and bones significantly. Although still requiring food, a Jagernaut has internal systems powered by a microfusion reactor. Complete with the latest in small-scale technology, Jagernauts have numerous nanomeds and nano/pico devices in their bodies that are responsible for a number of functions, including promoting injury recovery, preventing the ingestion of poison, augmenting skills, delaying aging, and more. Jagernauts are renowned for their large size and efficiency in battle.
Jagernauts ranks from highest to lowest
- Primary (equivalent to Admiral)
- Secondary (equivalent to Colonel)
- Tertiary (equivalent to Major)
- Quaternary (equivalent to Second Lieutenant)
The main training academy for Jagernauts is the Dieshan Military Academy (DMA). The cadet ranks from lowest to highest are: Apprentice, Journeyman, Junior, and Senior.
A Jagernaut exists on the razor's edge of sanity needing to balance loving empathy with efficient battle reflexes. The cause of the dichotomy involves the fact that having the necessary Kyle Rating presupposes the existence of empathy sufficient to allowing the Jagernaut to vividly feel the violent deaths of squadmates, enemy pilots, or even the ship's EI. To maintain self-control every Jagernaut is trained to adhere to a strict moral code of honor and personal decency.
Not all succeed in maintaining a balance between humanity and efficiency, giving J-Force the highest alcoholism and suicide rates within the forces of the Skolian Imperialate. Some Jagernauts manage to survive by suppressing their more human side, becoming either cold and machine-like (Kurj), or living lives of quiet emotional desperation and loneliness (Sauscony).
Help is usually available to emotionally damaged Jagernauts in the form of military psychiatric therapists, known as "heartbenders".
Main characters of the Ruby Dynasty
Roca Skolia, also known as Roca, is the Foreign Affairs Councillor of the Skolian Imperialate. Daughter of the late Lahaylia Selei, founder of the Imperialate and her husband, former Imperator Jarac Skolia, she is also a Rhon psion. She is also younger sister of the recent Skolian Pharaoh Dyhianna Selei and as such next in line for position of Ruby Pharaoh and of Assembly Key in the Triad between the disappearance of Taquinil Selei and the birth of Althor Izam-na Selei. Since her personality is most like that of her late father and her late son Kurj, she is also considered an emergency backup choice for the position of Military Key in case something should ever happen to her youngest son, Kelric Valdoria, the current Imperator.
Roca was formerly a renowned dancer known under the name Cya Liessa, and possesses a remarkably aesthetic appeal. With her tall and well-shaped figure, angelic face, golden skin and eyes and long curly golden, copper and platinum hair, all inherited from her father Jarac, she looks like a sun goddess and most men are stunned by her appearance. Nobody would guess her to be more than 20 years old, yet she is already over 100. She is very kind and loves her family above everything, but she can be also very resolute and strong-willed. She is a brilliant politician who strongly participates in Skolian politics and won the position of the Foreign Affairs Councilor by election, not because of her royal title.
Roca was married three times. Her first marriage to the explorer Tokaba Ryestar was arranged by her parents with reference to the necessity to produce Rhon offspring (which is only possible with a suitable partner). Sadly, it ended after only a few years with her husband's untimely death. Roca had a son named Kurj from this marriage, who was born as a product of in-vitro fertilization. Roca's second marriage with Darr Hammerjackson was a disaster. He abused both her and her son for several years, before they finally divorced. The third and final marriage of Roca Skolia was to the much younger Eldrinson Althor Valdoria from a provincial planet called Lyshriol. Eldrinson was a perfect match to Roca - the first Rhon born in Skolian Empire who wasn't a member of the ruling family of Skolia. Roca and Eldrinson have 10 children.
The Skolian Imperialate novels in which Roca is a major character are:
- Skyfall - tells the story how Roca met her third husband Eldrinson.
Eldrinson Althor Valdoria
Eldrinson Althor Valdoria, also known as Eldri, was originally an illiterate farmer from the backward planet Lyshriol. He had the title of the Dalvador Bard, which made him sort of ruler in the Dalvador province. He was a brave, strong-willed and kind man who cared deeply for his people, and also a Rhon psion. Even at a young age he was a respected leader, loved by his people and famous for his spectacular singing voice which he used to perform one of his duties – record history of his people in ballads. he has violet eyes, fair skin and burgundy hair, and only four fingers on each hand.
For a long time Eldrinson had seen himself as lacking. Mainly because of his epilepsy, which bothered him since childhood and nearly cost him his life when he became adult, as the seizures got worse and worse. Skolian doctors couldn't heal him completely but advanced medicine enabled him to live a nearly normal life.
The meeting with his wife's people also showed Eldrinson how backward and uneducated he and his fellows are in comparison with the majority of people in the Skolian Empire. The Lyshrioli, including himself, were genetically incapable of written language which made it impossible for them to learn how to read and write. Technical wonders Roca brought into Eldrinson's life both astounded and terrified him and he tried to avoid them when possible.
He had seven sons and three daughters with Roca and though he loved them all deeply, it was hard for him to understand those of his children who chose to live a modern life off-world, even joining the military. Problems with his children forced Eldrinson to re-think many opinions he took for granted (such as women cannot be warriors).
Despite his position as Roca's consort, most members of the imperial court looked at Eldrinson as someone far beneath them. This changed during a crisis, when Eldrinson saved the Skolian Empire by joining the Triad and becoming the Web Key. Eldrinson then served many decades as a Key to the psiberweb and became very popular among the common Skolians. Despite the life extending treatments, which didn't work for him as well as for most people, Eldrinson died of old age on his homeworld when he was 90, shortly after the end of Radiance War and reunion with his long lost son Kelric.
Sauscony Lahaylia Valdoria Skolia
Sauscony Lahaylia Valdoria Skolia, also called Soz or Soshoni, is a member of the Ruby Dynasty ruling the Skolian Empire, and as such has the empathic and telepathic abilities of a Rhon psion. She ranks Jagernaut Primary in the ISC, and later in the series becomes Imperator.
Soz was born on the rustic planet Lyshriol as the sixth of ten children of the local Bard Eldrinson Valdoria and his wife Roca Skolia, a Ruby Dynasty heir. Since early childhood she showed huge interest in modern technology of her mother's people, especially that connected to military. At the age of 16 she took preliminary entrance exams for the Dieshan Military Academy to fulfill her dream and become a Jagernaut. After achieving record high scores (perfect in fact) she was granted immediate acceptance into the academy – much to the displeasure of her father, who feared losing his children to war and couldn’t understand why a girl would want to become a warrior, when she should be perfectly happy with finding a husband and running a household with many children.
Soz excelled in all subjects, military strategy and engineering being just a few of them. She graduated from the DMA in only two years and as her later career also proceeded with a rocket-like speed, she gained the rank of a Primary even before she was forty. She became the leader of Blackstar Squadron and her half-brother Kurj Skolia, the Imperator of Skolia named her as one of his three possible imperial heirs (the other two being her brothers Althor and Kelric). But she too had to deal with the difficulties of her job, because her empaths mind experienced the deaths of enemies she killed. A capture during an undercover mission, when she was tortured and raped by an Aristo, also scarred her deeply.
Despite being a psion, she often has problems expressing her feelings. She is not very good with words and prefers action to talking. Though hard-edged, Soz has also a sensitive side, which she doesn't show very often, because she considers it a weakness. She can handle machines better than she handles men, who are sometimes frightened by her blunt manners.
Unlike her career, Soz's personal life wasn't very successful. Her first marriage to Jato Stormson ended in divorce after Soz got pregnant but lost the baby after being injured during a space battle. Her second husband, Hypron Luminar, died of an uncurable illness after only a few months of marriage. Soz met her third husband Jaibriol Qox II on the Allied planet Delos. Like Soz, Jaibriol was a Rhon psion, but he was also a member of the Aristo Highton caste and heir to the enemy of Skolians, the Eubian Concord. In order to come together they first had to overcome many difficulties and finally decided to fake their own deaths in order to go into exile on an isolated planet within Allied (Earth) space, which they named Prism. They lived there a happy life there for 16 years and raised four children.
When Kurj died and Jaibriol was kidnapped by Eubians, Soz returned home to become the new Imperator of the Skolian Imperialate. To rescue her husband and prevent the Eubians from conquering Skolia, she sent a fleet to Eube’s homeworld, Glory, extending a conflict that became known as the Radiance War. At the end of the war, she and Jaibriol faked their deaths again to go back into exile and start a stable colony on Prism together with their children, Soz’s brother Althor and a group of Jagernaut volunteers. However, Soz's eldest son Jai separated from his family before his parents returned to Earth to claim their children. Grieving for his parents deaths and the devastation in the open space that was caused by war and by the Aristos, he later became the Emperor of Eube as Jaibriol III.
The Skolian Imperialate novels in which Soz is a major character are:
- Primary Inversion covering her early life and later meeting with Jaibriol Qox II;
- The short story "Aurora in Four Voices" where she meets and rescues Jato Stormson;
- The Radiant Seas which covers her escape with Jaibriol, life with children, return to Skolia, and second escape;
- The novelette "The Pyre of New Day" which tells the story of Hypron Luminar and how he meets her.
Kurj Skolia, also known as Kurj, was an ambitious Jagernaut Primary, and later became Imperator Skolia.
Kurj was the son of Roca Skolia and had a troubled past involving his mother and various father figures. He and his mother were abused for many years by Roca's second husband Darr - Kurj's stepfather, who saw the pubescent boy as a rival. As he grew older, Kurj's subconscious attraction to and jealousy for his mother resulted in disaster when he found that his biological father was also his mother's father Jarac, which was a result of in vitro fertilization. He looks like his biologic father Jarac, and is tall with golden skin, eyes and hair. He killed Jarac by entering the Dyad, almost destroying the psiberweb.
He became a hard and often ruthless man, who pursued his goals without regard to others. During his time as a Jagernaut he learned to hate the Eubians with passion and would do everything possible to rid the universe of them. As an Imperator of Skolia he was both respected and feared. He remained jealous of Roca's much younger third husband Eldrinson Valdoria and never accepted him.
Despite his secret longing for family Kurj lived a lonely life, never letting his occasional lovers close enough to form a stable relationship. However, when the Assembly wanted him to marry a chosen noblewoman for political reasons, he defied their order by marrying his lover Ami, a beautiful, sweet-natured and simple commoner.
Shortly after that Kurj died in a battle which also cost the life of Ur Qox, the ruler of Eubian Concord. His successor as Imperator of Skolia was his younger half-sister Soz Valdoria. Several months after Kurj's death Ami gave birth to his son Kurjson.
Kelricson Garlin Valdoria Skolia
Kelricson Garlin Valdoria Skolia, also known as Kelric, is a Jagernaut Tertiary in the ISC, and in later books became Imperator of the Skolian Empire. Kelric was born on the planet Lyshriol, as the youngest of ten children of Eldrison Valdoria and Roca Skolia, a member of the royal Ruby Dynasty. He looks like his mother and maternal grandfather Jarac, who was tall with golden skin, eyes and hair.
Kelric gained military training and served several years in the J-force. He was designated as one of the three imperial heirs (together with his brother Althor and sister Sauscony) to his older half-brother Kurj, who was Imperator of the Skolian Empire. But then Kelric's ship was damaged during an attack and he was stranded on the planet Coba for over eighteen years, all the while presumed deceased by his family. He became an expert in the dice game of Quis used as a form of universal communication on Coba, and was passed among several female governors as valuable property. He eventually escaped and made his way to Edgewhirl.
There he learns that much of his family has been either killed or captured during the Radiance War. He takes a couple of jobs in an attempt to earn enough money to transport to his captive remaining family members on Earth. However, on a merchant exchange he is captured by an Aristo named Azar Taratus and sold to Eubian Finance Minister Tarquine Iquar. Eventually, Kelric escapes her as well. He visits the Lock which the Eubians had captured and deactivates it. He boldly escapes, only to end up once again stranded on another planet, this one called Spikedown. There he meets Jeejon, whom he later weds, but not before she helps him buy passage off the planet. Together they make their way to Earth where Kelric is reunited with his family.
When the Ruby Dynasty family members were rescued from Earth by Pharaoh Dyhianna Selei, Kelric finally inherited the position of the Skolian Imperator, as his predecessors, his sister Sauscony and half-brother Kurj were dead or presumed dead.
The Skolian Imperialate novels in which Kelric is a major character are:
- The Last Hawk - about Kelric's live on Coba's various estates
- Ascendant Sun - about Kelric's captivity and escape from Tarquine Iquar
- "A Roll of the Dice" - Kelric as Imperator.
- Carnelians - Kelric as Imperator.
Jaibriol III, also called Jai, is the son of both an Aristo and a psion – his father is the previous Eubian Emperor Jaibriol Qox II and his mother is Sauscony Valdoria, the former Imperator of Skolia. Jai is the oldest of four children, has a sister named Rocalisa and brothers Vitar and Del-Kelric. Both parents of Jaibriol III are believed to be dead, though they are secretly living with their other children on the planet Prism.
At seventeen years of age, Jai is crowned emperor of the Eubian Concord as Jaibriol III. After that he has to deal with many difficulties, one of which is that he is too young and unexperienced to rule an interstellar empire. Another one is that members of Eubian noble houses, including his own ministers, are not very happy with changes which the idealistic young ruler would like to bring into their life – like peace with their enemy, the Skolians. When several assassination attempts threaten his life, he has to learn quickly how to survive in the hard and dangerous Eubian society.
His closest ally becomes his cousin Corbal Xir, one of the very few Aristos who has voluntarily given up transcendence. A short time after ascending the throne Jaibriol III marries the Eubian Trade Minister Tarquine Iquar.
The Skolian Imperialate novels in which Jairbiol III is a major character are:
- The Moon's Shadow - a story how Jaibriol III became emperor of Eube
- The Ruby Dice - the political battle to regain peace between Skolian Imperialite and Eubean Concord, takes place 10 years after the events of the Radiance war
- Carnelians - the continued efforts to reach peace between the Skolian Imperialite and Eubian Concord, takes place nineteen years after the events of the Radiance war.
Tarquine Iquar, is the Minister of Finance and a key player in the politics of the Eubian Concord.
Tarquine is a Highton Aristo, a member of the ruling class in the Eubian Concord. She is head of the Iquar line and aunt to Viquara Iquar, who was married to the late Eubian Emperor Ur Qox. Tarquine was briefly married in her youth but divorced soon, having thus no legitimate offspring. She values her independence and prefers enjoying charms of her provider slaves to an arranged Highton marriage.
She is beautiful, very intelligent but ambitious, intrigant, unscrupulous and calculating. When we are first introduced to her, she is already over 100 years old (but looks young due to advanced anti-aging treatments) and a wealthy, powerful and dangerous woman.
Tarquine is also one of the very few Aristos who had the Kyle Afferent Body removed from her brain because she began to hate how her transcending inflicted pain on others but could not resist the temptation of transcendence. She however has to keep this secret, as she would lose her title and property, maybe even life, if this ever became known.
She was for a short time the owner of Skolian Imperator Kelric, after he was caught by Eubian pirates and sold on a slave auction. Determined to possess him, Tarquine didn't hesitate to pay incredible 14 million credits for him, the highest price ever paid for a provider. Kelric's escape after only a couple of days was a big disappointment for her.
After Jaibriol III ascends the Eubian throne, Tarquine becomes his wife and Empress of Eube. Jai feels attracted to her although she is an Aristo and he a psion, because she has given up transcendence. To her shock, she developed genuine feelings for her much younger husband, seeking to promote his idealistic goals not because she believed in them, but for his sake.
Dyhianna Selei, also called Dehya, is the Ruby Pharaoh, titular head of the Skolian Imperialate. She is a mathematical genius, who can even predict future events with the help of her equations. She dislikes giving public speeches and dressing in long skirts (her preferred style is jumpsuit), and would rather spend her time solving math problems than ruling an empire. Dehya is the oldest living member of the Ruby Dynasty, actually even the oldest living Skolian. She is also a member of the imperial Triad and functions as its Assembly Key.
Unlike her younger sister Roca, who has the beautiful figure of a former dancer, Dehya is small, slender with a childlike face and appears to be helpless and vulnerable. But anyone who would see her that way would be mistaken. Dehya is very strong-minded, courageous and has a superior intellect.
Dehya was married twice with both weddings being arranged for her for political reasons by the Skolian governing body, the Assembly. Her first marriage to Seth Rockworth, a top officer from Earth, established the Icelandic treaty between Allieds and Skolians. They were married for several decades but had no children and later divorced. Her second marriage was strictly enforced by the Assembly – against her will Dehya had to marry her own nephew Eldrin Valdoria. Eldrin was, like her, a Rhon psion and the Assembly was desperate for producing more Rhon heirs. Luckily, with time Dehya and Eldrin happened to fall in love with each other and are having a happy marriage now. Being so closely related to her husband however led to genetic issues with Dehya's offspring.
Taquinil Selei is the firstborn son of Ruby Pharaoh Dyhianna Selei and her second husband and nephew Eldrin. He resembles his mother very much, not only with his small, slender figure and dark hair but also with his enormous intellect. He is a genius who since early childhood showed huge talent for math and computer science. He studied economy and became a professor at the prestigious University of Parthonia. His predictions concerning the course of stock exchange trade are legendary.
Taquinil’s brilliant mind is very fragile. He is the most sensitive Rhon psion ever born, lacking the mental barriers that protect other empaths from emotions projected by people around them. When he was a child, his parents had to shield him constantly, which however became impossible as he grew older and wanted to have a life on his own. When he left to study at the university, his mind couldn’t endure the attacks of emotions and split into many different personalities. After a long therapy with strong medications Taquinil was able to incorporate all of these personalities again. Doctors also put a biomech inside his body that provided the chemicals his brain lacked, which were necessary to block empathic input. This enabled him to live an almost normal life.
During the Radiance War when Orbiter, where his family lived, is attacked by Eubians, Taquinil and Dyhianna jump into the Lock to save themselves from their pursuers, their bodies becoming wavefunctions in the psiberspace. Unlike his mother, who later coalesces on the moon Opalite, Taquinil doesn’t want to return to his human existence. In psiberspace he finally finds peace from the onslaught of peoples’ emotions that crushed his mind since he was a boy. Although it is unclear whether his mind and body can survive intact, without being slowly dissolved in the structure of the Kyle Web, he decides to stay. The content of Catch the Lightning indicates that 50 years after this incident Taquinil is still considered either dead or missing.
Lyshriol is the name of the homeworld of one branch of Ruby Dynasty. The Allieds call the planet Skyfall.
Lyshriol is a heavy gravity world with two suns called Valdor and Aldan. It has a circular orbit and no axial tilt, so day and night are of the same length and there are no seasons. The main, most heavily populated provinces are Dalvador and Rillia. General population of Lyshriol is not very large, there are about 400 thousand people in the whole world. The language spoken there is called Trillian and although some dialects may exist, they are not very different from each other.
The planet got its other name Skyfall because of its blue colored water and snow, which looks like sky fallen on earth. Water in any form on Lyshriol contains impurities which turn everything blue. This is however not dangerous for humans and doesn't cause any problems to the inhabitants who carry in their bodies nanomeds that degrade the blue dye.
Lyshriol has lavender sky and big plains of green and silvery grass. Its biosphere is full of unique animals, famous are especially lyrine - animals that look like horses, with crystalline horns and silver, lavender or blue coats. A Lyshrioli meal is made up entirely of bubbles, which vary in size, color and flavour.
Lyshriol is a planet where the humans and the planet seem to have been designed for some unknown purpose, probably by the ancient Ruby Empire. The humans have hinged hands with only four digits and unlike the majority of the population in the Skolian Imperialate, who are swarthy, dark-eyed and dark-haired, they have fair skin, violet eyes and red or blond hair. They have a genetic predisposition to illiteracy, and are mostly not able to learn how to read or write. They are however very musical with chiming voices, love singing, dancing and festivals.
Bards record the history of the Lyshrioli people in ballads. They also execute duties of judges, perform marriage ceremonies and lead armies in wars. Every village has its own Bard, a man who is chosen by his fellows for this position because of his ability to sing and lead. Only two Bard titles on Lyshriol are hereditary, passed on from father to son – Dalvador Bard and Rillia Bard.
Memories are women with eidetic memories, who record important events with their mind. They wear long red robes. Their unique memory was genetically engineered into the Lyshrioli by geneticists of the long lost Ruby Empire.
Blue Dale Archers
Archers are a Lyshrioli ethnic group that was long believed to be extinct. They differ from the overall Lyshrioli population significantly with their lither build, pale skin, white-gold hair, silver eyes and pointed ears. They live in nomadic tribes in Blue Mountains, rarely leaving the area and avoid dealing with other Lyshrioli. Unlike them they are not farmers and make their living by hunting. It is suspected that the Blue Dale Archers are also the result of a genetic engineering project by the ancient Ruby Empire, since they have the ability to enter Kyle Space in a trance state, without the use of a Triad Chair or any other machinery.
Works published in series
- "Schism: Part One of Triad.(Brief Article)(Book Review)". AccessMyLibrary. 6 December 2004. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
- Catherine Asaro (1995). Primary Inversion. Tor Books. p. 2 (e-book version).
We were bioengineered fighter pilots, elite officers in the Space Command of Skolia
- Catherine Asaro (1995). Primary Inversion. Tor Books. p. 50 (e-book version).
Our ships waited near the terminal, Jag starships, the single-pilot craft that gave the Jagernauts their name.
- "Asaro, Catherine. Schism.(Book Review)". AccessMyLibrary. 1 January 2005. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
- James Schellenberg (29 October 1997). "Primary Inversion". Challenging Destiny - Science Fiction and Fantasy Reviews by James Schellenberg. james Schellenberg. Retrieved 22 December 2009.
- Catherine Asaro (1995). Primary Inversion. Tor Books. p. 2 (e-book version).
"heartbender" was just the slang we used for the psychiatrists who treated Jagernauts who broke under the strain