Ella Patel is a con artist, a thief and a young woman who survived and even thrived on the streets of Cratetown, a vast slum that has grown up on the edge of the demilitarised zone in the aftermath of the great Alien War. And one day she found herself witness to a brutal murder, driven to intervene she never imagined she was stepping in the middle of the conflict between the Genjix and the Prophus
Or becoming the new host of the Quasing, Io. A quasing who throughout all of human history has been renowned for… her string of utter failures. This doesn’t make her the best or most useful guide for Ella now pulled into the war between the two big alien factions. A quasing can be a powerful guide - but when that quasing is Io?
In the story of Tao, we saw one of the most powerful and influential Quasing in the history of the Prophus. He has inhabited a series of powerful people who have completely and utterly shaped the world, who have achieved great things, influenced history and been at the forefront of their war against the Genjix. We’ve seen him take some extremely unprepared hosts, like Roan Tan and raise him to greatness, we’ve seen him inhabit Cameron to great effect.
Tao was a superstar, even in the most inept of hosts, Tao was a force to be reckoned with. Tao was terrifying. Tao was powerful. Tao changed the world.
Io is not a superstar. Io is an abject failure. Late to living in a human host, having great difficulty in influencing her hosts and having a long history of leaving them dead in her wake. Io is the excellent depiction of an entirely different kind of Quasing. Not all quasings are skilled world leaders, not all quasings shaped the world, not all quasings made a huge difference to world history - good and bad. And while Tao ended his arc wondering whether Quasings where good or bad for Earth and openly admitting that the Quasings are a dangerous invasive force: Io has pretty much given up on influencing the world at all. Tao is deeply invested in his host, Tao is invested in humans, Tao cares. Io is almost completely done with humanity
Through Io’s eyes we also get some really excellent insights into Quasing society when they were originally on their home planet, how their society worked, how these extremely alien creatures co-existed through the universe and how their hierarchy was structured. And from we see just how different modern Quasing are - they’re so disconnected compared to what they were and their hierarchy has been utterly turned on their head.
What is an equally awesome facet of this book is Ella, Io’s human host. And while we’ve seen Roan and Cameron very much in the thrall of Tao, following in his wake, following his lead and pretty much obeying everything Tao says. Ella is not obedient. She’s not following Io’s lead, she argues constantly, she is determined to live her own life, determined to be paid and refuses to be fobbed off, dismissed or controlled by her Quasing inhabitant. Ella is a homeless young woman living a desperate life in one of the biggest slums in the world - but she is a master of her environment, she is a power in her own right, an expert, fiercely intelligent, brave, resourceful (and all without any dubiousness. No this child of the street isn’t super educated or an amazing fighter, for example) - and if her quasing is disappointing, she goes above and beyond any possible expectation. It’s a glorious change from Tao and shows how humanity can shine - as well as introducing the excellent conflict between Io and Ella