The Bronze Skies (2017) is the second book in Catherine Asaro’s MAJOR BHAAJAN series. In the first book, Undercity, we met Bhaajan, a private investigator who recently retired from military service. When she is hired by the royal family to track down a runaway prince, she must descend into the grimy tunnels under the capital city of Cries. This is where the lowest cast of citizens live — in the city’s underbelly — and this is where Bhaajan grew up before escaping into the military. As Bhaajan searches for the prince, it’s easy to draw parallels between the class system of Cries and our own world’s socioeconomic hierarchies.
In The Bronze Skies, Bhaajan is again hired by the royal family, this time to find the Jagernaut who killed an Assembly Councilor. Bhaajan must also discover how and why the killing was done because Jagernauts have a spinal implant that should not allow them to murder city officials. As before, Bhaajan will need to descend into the tunnels, where the “dust rats” live, to find the murderer.
Bhaaj is someone we can admire. She cares for the people who live under the city, helping them find jobs, sell their wares, try to connect with the people who live above them, and train for the first ever friendly tournament against those “upper” people who used to be their foes. As with the first book, Undercity, a major social concern in The Bronze Skies is how to help lift people out of poverty and need without making them feel inferior and without destroying their culture.
The plot of each MAJOR BHAAJAN could stand alone, but we see more development of Bhaaj in this second book. We learn more of her history here and it’s now becoming obvious that she has some important hereditary connections that she’s been unaware of. I expect that this will develop further in subsequent books. We also learn more about how Asaro’s universe works. There’s some math, physics, and neuroscience involved in this. The neuroscience is not real, but it’s plausible. I don’t know about the math and physics.
However you felt about Undercity, you’ll probably feel the same way about The Bronze Skies. It’s similar in style, setting, and theme. In my review of Undercity, I said I enjoyed it “well enough, mostly because of the underground setting, the fast-moving plot, and the focus on current social issues.” I feel the same way about The Bronze Skies.
I listened to the Recorded Books’ audio version of The Bronze Skies. It’s 13.25 hours long and excellently by Suzy Jackson.