In the Courts of the Crimson Kings
Tor, Mar 2008, $24.95
On Mars, the U.S. Aerospace Force assigns archeologist Jeremy Wainman to explore the recently found lost city of Rema-Dza. When Jeremy meets Martian native mercenary Teyud za-Zhalt, he falls in love. However, he quickly realizes who she is; Teyud is the missing heir to the long gone Crimson Dynasty that once rurled much of the Red Planet.
When they learn of a scheme to steal the Ruby Throne and much more, they team up to prevent it. Soon Jeremy and Teyud are fleeing for their lives as they are under serious attack from airships. If they are to survive and win her the throne of the Emperor Tollamune they will need to locate the missing invisible crown of the first emperor.
Moving from the Venus of THE SKY PEOPLE to paying homage to the Mars of Ray Bradbury, S.M. Stirling provides enjoyable alien-earthling encounters of the first through third kinds. The story line is action-packed only slowing down for nanoseconds in order to lampoon know it all scientists drawing conclusions without supporting data, rigid military officers fighting the last war fought on a different planet, and decider politicians not interested in the facts. Those latter satirical sidebars are amusing and right on with their caricatures, but also distracts from an otherwise delightful visit to the very angry Red Planet.