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Black Moon is the third in a four-part series.

Julie Bauer, Staff Writer

The third installment in Romina Russell’s Zodiac quadrilogy, Black Moon, keeps the series alive.

Wandering Star Rhoma Grace fought against the Marad, a terrorist group determined to destroy unity in the Zodiac Galaxy. Now the group is seemingly dormant, months having passed since its last attack, and peace has been declared. Rho is suspicious, however. She has eerie visions that suggest a bleak future for the Zodiac.

News of a progressive new political party, whose goal is to bring the people of the Galaxy together, arrives, and Rho uses it as an excuse research the identity of the Master of the Marad. The truth, however, has the potential to rip the Galaxy apart.

Book 1 presented excellent world-building, and book 2 continued it. Black Moon keeps the tradition alive. There are careful descriptions of the constellations of the Zodiac, including the lifestyles of their people, their technology, their history, and more. Russell’s writing seems to burst with vitality, and her words are like candy for the brain. This is easily the most enjoyable aspect of all of her novels.

Many of the characters from previous books make an appearance, and some are further fleshed out. Character development is evident in Rho. In Book 1, she was meek and yielding, but in book 3 the reader has the pleasure of seeing her take charge. She has finally developed to become a more decisive person who can trust her instincts.

In the first half of Black Moon, almost nothing happens. However, there is enough suspense to keep it from being boring. The ending that this suspense leads up to is a plot twist that seems like it was thrown in for shock value. Those who are emotionally invested in the series could overlook this due to its impact on the protagonist.

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In book 3, Russell drops the annoying love triangle…but does she really? Rho finally picks Hysan over Mathias, but it’s evident that she isn’t over him. In fact, it feels like she only picks Hysan because she thinks Mathias loves someone else. Remnants of the love triangle will likely be carried over into book 4, which is plain insulting.

Those who enjoyed the first two novels in the series will more than likely enjoy the third. If you enjoy immersive science fiction settings and diverse, dynamic characters, you should start the series from the beginning.