THE LAST LUMENIAN is an elaborate science fiction fantasy centering on Ma’hana (princess) Lilla of planet Uhna who, despite being spunky, feels almost powerless against the tyranny and misogyny of her patriarchal world. She struggles to avoid an arranged marriage and improve conditions in her planet’s refugee camps. Lilla lost her mother in early childhood but has never forgotten Eilish’s lessons about protecting the underdog. It’s a value so deep that Lilla secretly joins a rebellion against her father’s government, which relies on slave labor to run its economy based on diamond mining. But an even greater threat to freedom and happiness looms. Lilla discovers her supernatural strengths just in time to battle a satanical villain, the Dark Lord of Doom or DLD, who wants to destroy Uhna and the galaxies it governs.
THE LAST LUMENIUM is retro-futuristic. It combines fairytale elements — including a glittering castle and a wicked stepmother queen — with smart technologies run via magic. The story wanders into Star Trek territory with interstellar travel, teleportation, and people who look nothing like Earthlings. For example, Lilla is lavender all over and rides a “battle horse” with claws on its hooves. Her ex-boyfriend, Belthair, has six arms. And, to avoid a spoiler, we won’t reveal the beastly secret of General Callum A’ruun, the alien military leader who Lilla crushes on.
The novel gallops, rapidly building suspense and romantic tension. Its settings, including an ocean roiling with cataclysmic waves and huge sharks, are vivid. But its two major plotlines crash into each other and complicate the story with a cast so large that character development suffers. Lilla’s father, Ma’ha Niall, is a case in point. Readers may wonder why he set his kingdom and personal life on such a treacherous course. In contrast, the relationship between Lilla and her best friend Genna — a healer who is gentle with all living things, including a dog-sized pet spider — is just detailed enough to make the reader want to see them together again in a sequel.
In a November 2020 interview at San Francisco Book Review, author S.G. Blaise indicates that her debut novel is the first book in a series and says that she wanted to create a romantic tale that would be “inspiring and gentle at the same time.” She has succeeded on both counts. The novel’s adventure encloses a love story sweet enough for middle school readers. Its timely, overall message concerns the importance of not accepting political repression and economic inequity. Blaise has stated in a number of publications that although she now lives in Southern California, she spent her childhood amid “castles, monarchies, and fallen dictatorships” as well as “Soviet oppression.” Along with the Hollywood movies her father snuck home, reality fostered Blaise’s fantasy.
S. G. Blaise’s THE LAST LUMENIUM is a fast-moving science fiction fantasy, which is suitable for young teens as well as adults, that offers a valuable perspective on political repression and economic inequity.
~Alicia Rudnicki for IndieReader