Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Primary Inversion (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #1)” as Want to Read:
Primary Inversion (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Primary Inversion

(Saga of the Skolian Empire #1)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  3,826 ratings  ·  221 reviews
The Skolian Empire rules a third of the civilized galaxy through its mastery of faster-than-light communication. But war with the rival empire of the Traders seems imminent, a war that can only lead to slavery for the Skolians or the destruction of both sides. Destructive skirmishes have already occurred. A desperate attempt must be made to avert total disaster.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 15th 1996 by Tor Books (first published March 1995)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Primary Inversion, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Primary Inversion

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,826 ratings  ·  221 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Primary Inversion (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #1)
Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali
At the beginning of the year I decided to actively seek out and read SF&F written by women or with women occupying the titular roles. As you may imagine, when I first learned about Catherine Asaro , a female author who writes hard SF while reading the Complete Guide to Writing Science Fiction, I was excited and impressed and went in immediate search of books written by her. Aside from being an author and dancer, Asaro has degrees in chemistry and physics from Harvard. I felt immediately assured ...more
I still truly love this book.
Soz remains one of my favorite literary characters.
This book introduces you to the world of The Ruby Dynasty. The premise is interesting if clumsy in places. 4000BCE an unknown race of aliens take human beings from South America and places them on the planet Raylicon. From Raylicon the humans reverse engineer the alien technology and settle the Stars.
Not often do we see Indigenous Peoples in space which is really cool.
Also an alabaster enemy who actively captures
2.5 stars. The first book in the Saga of the Skolian Empire. I was expecting to like this a lot more than I did. The basic premise of the series sounded very interesting. The Skolian Empire rules a large interstellar empire and is in a constant struggle with a larger rival empire, the Eubian Concord. The ruling class of the Eubians are engineered to derive pleasure from the pain of others and the Skolian empaths are their most desired victims. Decent world building, decent story, decent book. I ...more
Nov 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Do you ever read the last page first? I do it all the time. A number of people give me a certain look when I admit this. You know the one; you’re probably doing it right now. But really, I can’t say as it’s ever ruined a good book for me? Ursula LeGuin puts it well: “It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end.” Every book is a journey, and when you put ten or more books together, the journey just gets longer and longer and you never want it to end ...more
Apr 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
Space empire ruled by royal telepaths something opposing empire of evil sexual sadists something soulbond something something boring space battles.

I don’t object to getting some romance in my scifi (or even some scifi in my romance, sometimes). It just helps if one or the other is, uh . . . good. This is terrible, amateurish scifi full of narcolepsy-inducing descriptions of how every stupid little piece of technology works. And it’s also a cardboard romance where all the actual authorial work an
Apr 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars. Interesting world, story, & conundrum with way too many unnecessary data dumps, often in clusters. Might have been better in text rather than audio due to this. Uneven, too. Some parts were quite good, others dreadful, some obviously forced.

The end relied on a a really ridiculous idea that was fairly typical of this. A world leader wouldn't be the first & only person told about the discovery of a new planet by an automated drone. That would be relegated to a team far down the food cha
Jul 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The first Skolian Empire book stars Soz, aka Sauscony Valdoria Skolia, squad primary, heir to the emperor. The Skolian empire is in endless war against the Traders. The Trader aristocrats have sadism bred into them. To the empathic Skolians, the Traders' love of torture -- their need to torture -- is the ultimate horror. Soz has found, unbelievably, a Trader Aristo who is not a sadist, and now she has an opportunity to make peace between their empires, if she can keep him and herself alive.

I fou
Bryan Alexander
Aug 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: space-opera, romance
I love reading space opera, that classic science fiction subgenre. I've enjoyed it since I was a kid, before I even knew the term. As an adult I track the stuff down, hunting for excellent and obscure titles. So I was delighted to come across Primary Inversion in a library give-away, since I hadn't read it before.

I enjoyed the novel, as it gave me many space opera pleasures: space battles! interstellar empires! cyborgs! new worlds! intrigue! ...but after finishing it my mind wouldn't stop pickin
May 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sff, romance, hard-sf
Someone pitched this to me as "hard SF meets romance." I was intrigued, but ultimately rather disappointed. The hard SF bits are rather clunkily described (few authors can keep me interested in lengthy descriptions of their technology, particularly if it's an imagined visual/telepathic version of cyberspace...), and the rest of the plot is pretty standard. The only really intriguing concept here is the idea of empaths as soldiers-- the Skolians' most elite soldiers are also usually the most powe ...more
Isabella De Oliveira Campos
One of the best science fiction books (or any books in general) I have ever read! I still remember when I searched about new space opera books to read, and I found this one. The summary on Wikipedia sounded interesting so I bought it. Then I read some reviews on Goodreads and Amazon and got a little scared that maybe it might not be such a good read. Oh boy, how I was wrong! This book has everything: space opera drama, irresistible romance, interplanetary adventure, heavy action, good ol' hard s ...more
Jan 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This book featured a number of compelling moments, sandwiched between a few extreme info dumps and techno babble.

To put this in perspective, it has been a long time since I've ventured into space opera, so I might not be remembering genre norms very well, but the first three chapters of this book were really just one long, boring info dump. The problem with this kind of info dump is actually two-fold: First, it was boring to read, and came very close to making me put the book down. (I'd had any
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
From the synopsis, I didn't think this would be a story told from a First Person POV. I was expecting something more along the lines of "Battlestar Galactica." Instead, everything is seen from Soz's perspective. Soz is a woman, and a soldier, and that made Primary Inversion another difficult book for me.

I was reading Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins at the same time, and due to how much both books hit home for me, I ended up having to take a break from them to read something a bit more light-hearte
Great start to Asaro's Skolian Empire saga. Published in 1996, it has a nice balance between hard sci-fi and space opera themes and development of a sensitive but tough telepathic character, Soz (Sauscony Valdoria) struggling to find love and human connections in the face of emotional isolation as both a military pilot and heir to the heriditary throne of empaths. As a physicist, Asaro is able to put her own innovative twists on the rendering of faster-than-light space travel, artificial intelli ...more
Jun 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Plenty of tech babble and some flatness in the romantic thread are my main nits, otherwise I loved it.
Sep 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun read. There are 3 human based races that occupy various planets. Two are at war and they are human species resulting from attempts to create superhumans. One has no ability to feel empathy and gets pleasure from the pain of others. The other has a superior group of warriors -- enhanced by technology and able to communicate mentally by sensing others. The third that is not a war - the Allies - are unaltered. The male and female who are the individuals picked to secede the leaders o ...more
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
I very much enjoyed this book. It is storytelling on the galactic scale. If you enjoy science fiction pick up the book. Cybernetics is at the heart of this far in the future tale, yet even with this science there is political turmoil and struggle. Humans have evolved but the quest for domination by the ruling hegemony is as close as today. Evolution through melding humans with computers brings the ability to travel to far distant planets but the political machinations of certain members of the r ...more
Dec 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I will definitely be hunting down the other books in this series. Not because of Asaro's writing style by any means, but I like the relationships between the characters, and the setting and overall story arc is interesting enough to keep me reading. I'd definitely recommend anyone who is writing or reading hard SF to check it out--read a sample on Amazon, or go to your local library, or something. Also, if you're a sucker for romance (guilty-pleasures, yo), I think you'll be thoroughly amused.[r ...more
Feb 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Primary Inversion is a quick, fun read. Nothing profound.

There's quite a bit too much world-building in the first pages, and the amount of pseudo-science babble is pretty extreme. A few of the characters are well conceived, but the villains are stick figures.

The best part, I think, is the portrayal of the psychiatric profession, astonishingly enough.

If the next books in the series were available at my local library, I might read more. But they aren't, and there are too many other books awaiting
Carolyn F.
I love sci-fi romance books but this one left me confused. I had no idea who the heroine really loved and the guy she ended up with seemed fine but unlike the book's blurb, I didn't see that instant love connection myself. I'll read the next book in the series because I heard this series is good. I hope so.
ms bookjunkie
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to ms bookjunkie by: bitchery and/or Dear Author readership
Intricate worldbuilding, science that "made sense," compelling characters, emotionally satisfying relationships. My only problem with this book is that now I must read more of the series! Love!

(Romance or not? I don't care, it worked just fine for this romance reader without having to pick at nits.)
May 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf
Cheeky physics
Sappy romance

a price in a tower, waiting to be rescued
a princess to do the rescuing

it speeks to my soul

Things i like:
1) untraditional gender roles
2) crazy fun physics
3) eternal love with vulcan mind melds
4) space battles with overpowered wepons
Apr 14, 2020 rated it liked it

I see why it's called hard science fiction. This stuff can be hard to read.

This book has one of the most jaw-drop worthy elements I've read in a long time: mankind reached the stars many millennia ago, in present time. We just forgot about it. Those original star settlers further explored the universe, then forgot as well.

So, flash forward who knows how long. Earthers are astonished to find humans already in space. Well, almost humans. These descendants of original settlers, now known as rivalin
Kagama-the Literaturevixen
Aug 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
Sauscony Valdoria called Soz,is not pleased when into the bar she and her team are drinking in there walks in a group of Aristos. The Aristos have a bad reputation through the galaxy because they get pleasure from the painful emotions of their victims. She should know she was once subjected to one of their tortures.

Soz is confused when one of the Aristos buys her a drink and she touches his mind and its not like the others. In fact its more like her psychic powers.

I apologize if my plot summary
Jan 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance, scifi
Not everyone can be a ballerina and a quantum physicist. But Catherine Asaro seems to balance them pretty well. And she's recently added rock star to her CV, so the woman has a few interesting skill sets to share with us.

While this is the first book in the series, I had started with "Quantum Rose"The Quantum Rose, and luckily that one was enough of a stand-alone to intrigue me into seeking out the beginning while still allowing me to start the series with fresh eyes and meet entirely new charact
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Years ago I was looking for a new series of sci-fi novels to read.
I looked up award winners and scanned their bios. Since Catherine Asaro actually had a background in science, I gave her a try by picking up this start to her "Skolian" (or "Ruby Dynasty") series.

This great book hooked me on the whole series, which I've tried to read every bit of since. The novels are all easily found. There are some shorter entries that are harder to track down.

Anyone looking for "hard sci-fi" will find plenty of
Dec 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Catherine Asaro knows her physics, and she tries to use her knowledge to inject believability and a sense of "hard scifi"ness to this story. Unfortunately, what she ends up mostly doing is destroying the pacing and boring her readers.

Seriously, there is WAAAAY too much exposition and telling in this book. I'll admit that she works hard at explaining the science of things, and she creates lots of hooks for future stories in the series, but she ends up with a plot that often plods instead of flyin
Jeff Powers
Dec 28, 2015 rated it liked it
I'll admit to not loving this book. It took time to grow on me. The writing isn't stellar and the world-building takes some time to be clear. But by half way through this book I was hooked. So while, I will admit to not loving it, I will also admit to loving it. It is an odd thing. It is rough and very apparent that it is a first novel, from someone trying to break new ground by combining hard SF mathmatics with soft SF social issues and even romantic plotlines. They don't always work out, but t ...more
Nov 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook, romance
I read this over a decade ago & re-listened to it on audio while cleaning the house, exercising, cooking & driving to and from work and I didn't find it nearly as enthralling as I did the first time around. Maybe because I'd read it before or maybe because now I'm an oldish crab? I don't know, either way I kept wishing it would hurry up and end because I wanted to listen to something else. It's strange, I remembered this book as being emotionally draining and the torture scenes grueling but this ...more
Ricky Penick
Jul 29, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Where to start? I must admit that I have a weakness for bad "sci-fi" and I have rarely encountered a "sci-fi" movie that I wouldn't at least try to watch. I am a little more picky with books since they require a larger time commitment. Listening imposes other factors beyond one's imaginings so I tried to pin it on the narrator for a while, but no.
Imagine that I am the world's most adamant Ayn Rand detractor or more improbably, her biggest fan. Now try to imagine a pseudo Dagny Taggert cougar hei
Kenya Starflight
Sep 01, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's not that I don't like romance novels... okay, it's that I don't like romance novels. I find books centered purely around a guy and a girl (or two guys or two girls or whatnot) getting frisky and/or playing "will they or won't they" for two or three hundred pages dull, and while I don't mind some romance mixed into the plot of whatever I'm reading, I get annoyed when said romance hijacks the plot. All that said... despite hearing that "Primary Inversion" was indeed a romance novel, albeit on ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
JordanCon Book Club: Saga of the Skolian Empire 1 7 Jul 24, 2015 09:56AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Off Armageddon Reef (Safehold, #1)
  • Raft (Xeelee Sequence, #1)
  • Genesis
  • The Relentless Moon (Lady Astronaut #3)
  • Hell's Foundations Quiver (Safehold, #8)
  • Golem in the Gears (Xanth, #9)
  • Darwin's Radio (Darwin's Radio #1)
  • Linesman (Linesman, #1)
  • Alliance (Linesman, #2)
  • Confluence (Linesman, #3)
  • Arrow's Fall (Heralds of Valdemar, #3)
  • By Schism Rent Asunder (Safehold, #2)
  • By Heresies Distressed (Safehold, #3)
  • March Upcountry (Empire of Man, #1)
  • Finder (Finder Chronicles, #1)
  • Borders of Infinity (Vorkosigan Saga [Publication] #5.1-5.3)
  • Ice Cracker II: And Other Stories (The Emperor's Edge, #1.5)
  • Shards of Honour  (Vorkosigan Saga, #1)
See similar books…
Blog at

The author of more than twenty-five books, Catherine Asaro is acclaimed for her Ruby Dynasty series, which combines adventure, science, romance and fast-paced action. Her novel The Quantum Rose won the Nebula® Award, as did her novella “The Spacetime Pool.” Among her many other distinctions, she is a multiple winner of the AnLab from Analog magazine

Other books in the series

Saga of the Skolian Empire (1 - 10 of 16 books)
  • Catch the Lightning (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #2)
  • The Last Hawk (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #3)
  • The Radiant Seas (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #4)
  • Ascendant Sun (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #5)
  • The Quantum Rose (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #6)
  • Spherical Harmonic (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #7)
  • The Moon's Shadow (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #8)
  • Skyfall (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #9)
  • Schism (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #10; The Triad, #1)
  • The Final Key (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #11; The Triad, #2)

News & Interviews

Last year, Buzzfeed culture writer Anne Helen Petersen struck a chord with her viral article “How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation.”...
63 likes · 9 comments
“The commuters looked terrified. Well, yes, most people didn’t carry a particle accelerator with antimatter on their hip. But I had the safety engaged. It wouldn’t discharge.” 0 likes
More quotes…