Kensho is a collection of short stories from the Claimings series by Lyn Gala. The stories range from fleshing out a few historical aspects of the series to giving a peek into the futures of our favorite traders, Liam and Ondry. You absolutely must have read the others books in the series because there is simply too much backstory you need to be aware of in order to really enjoy this collection.
All of the stories were engaging, but I definitely had a couple of favorites. The first was Kensho (which is both the collection title and the title of an individual story), which centers around an exquisite art piece, an irritable art dealer, and a very wise Grandmother. In it we see how Liam and the Rownt’s arrival on Earth has rocked humanity and left them scrambling to adjust. This story, at its core, is about the meaning of grief and how that can change our entire view of the world and those that could threaten it. Lyn Gala has always done an excellent job of showing readers exactly how different humans are from the Rownt, but in Kensho we also see how grief and the love of children are, in many ways, universal. I don’t want to give details of the story away, but for such a short piece, I think offers incredible insight into both humans and Rownt and the things we care about the most.
The Choice and The Greatest Profit are two quick stories that fit well together and I enjoyed them because they show how far Liam and Ondry have come as a couple. Liam has gone from abused and neglected to someone who has confidence in himself and in his partner and, while they may be something of an “odd” couple, there’s never any doubt they belong together. Ondry may never fully understand the reality of being human, but his devotion to Liam is absolute and in The Choice and The Greatest Profit we get to see the culmination of all that they have achieved. Again, I won’t give away details, but these stories show Liam and Ondry taking the next step in their relationship and doing it with the same devotion they have shown during all of their long years together.
I’ve enjoyed this entire series and the biggest reason stems from Liam and Ondry and their couplehood. It’s easy to slap the word alien on a character but never really develop what that word means. But Lyn Gala has created a truly alien world and created something unique in the love that Ondry and Liam share. They actively have to work to both understand and accept one another and there are no magic fixes. For an imagined relationship between an alien and a human, it reads as very real and that is probably this series’ strongest aspect.
If you’ve enjoyed the Claimings books, you’re going to love these stories. It’s as simple as that. And while Kensho offer something of an ending, the author has left the universe open and I very much hope we will get more of Liam and Ondry at some point down the road. Consider this one a must read!