My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
Actual Rating: 3.5 for the plot and world; 2.0 for the characters
“…he felt as if he was embracing an armful of naked swords.”
Best line to describe Reese, our main character and Captain of the Earthrise merchant vessel. This has to be one of the most emotionally inept characters I have ever read. Childish temper tantrums are not just tantrums, but how she speaks to her crew!!! Throughout the entire novel I was telling her to grow the f up. My niece was more polite and socially intelligent during her terrible twos. This woman is flat out moronic. She needs a strong does of emotional intelligence and self control. I cannot express enough how irritating I found the main character.
“If none of them had a home, where would any of them go when it was all over.”
The other characters are no real prizes either. It is roughly 50/50 for good characters and irritants. This is a group of misfits who seem to have nothing in common except that they do not feel they belong on their home worlds or the society that bred them.
The other main character of this crew is a humanoid doctor who has real issues with touch and a severe case of the guilt/grief-complex. Now this guy developed nicely through the story. He began opening up more to the crew, despite his culture’s taught reticence, and he was willing to do his self-imposed duty as a doctor despite the prickly reception and down right mean attitude thrown at him. He is really the main reason we have a story at all.
Then their are the twins — a genetic experiment that resulted in a new species, the twins are really humanoid cats (although not called humanoids.) Their culture is highly sexual (no judgments here) and broke away from humanity a long time ago to become what seems one of the prominent races of the universe. The brother is a highly skilled pilot with a surprising insight into behavior and circumstances. The sister is the opposite; she seems to have no skills and is the immature whiner of the two with a one track mind and nothing intelligent or amusing to add to the story.
The scientist of our crew is a griffineque alien who does not talk much and is relied upon to help pilot. The mechanic is a bird-like alien who almost never talks but when he does speaks in the obscure advice given to oracles of other cultures. His words matter when said.
“Honor is the best form of craziness.”
Reese is not such a good merchant. Years ago she was so in debt that a mysterious angel had to buy her out of debt in return for an unnamed favor in the future. The future has arrived. Now the mysterious benefactor is calling in her marker and Reese is not so mature about it– she needs to rescue a an Eldrich humanoid from a jail cell by taking on slavers. Queue tantrum.
“Blood and Freedom, Sascha, there are things threatening to separate from this ship I didn’t even know were on it!”
However, our crew are space merchants. They are not used to armed combat. So the expected mishaps do indeed ensue. Through it all Reese is in bad humor at the man she is supposed to rescue (like it is his fault she sucks at her job and ended up in debt then expected help from a stranger with zero limitations on repayment conditions) and her crew. To add to the drama, Reese herself is not so good healthwise and refuses to admit anything is wrong.
“Are we ever going to make money in a boring way?”
Slavers, pirates, and guards need to be outsmarted before the new addition to the ship is safe. And then there is the little mystery of what the crew is supposed to do with him afterward. After all, when half the galaxy is hunting you, it might be better to lay low on a merchant ship operating at bankruptcy than stay in one spot.
At last, he was no longer anyplace but there. Now he was here. A place in itself. A place worth staying.
The plot to this adventure driven space opera was enjoyable and the prose was smooth and easily read making the pace of the novel rather brisk. The major problem was the characters. Only have of them seemed to develop and it was not the half that should. The world was not really explained either. Here we have almost no humans and a supposed war (secondary plot maybe?) going on with evil aliens, and yet it was only briefly touched on by ominous dialogue. What is going on in this universe? Who are these dragons everyone is afraid of? What is this war the police force of the Alliance is involved in? Why are their so few humans?
If you only want one story arc then you just should not introduce others.
Overall I found the characters annoying but the prose enjoyable. I will read the next installment; but doubt I will go further than that if Reese’s character is not vastly improved. After all, the majority of the story is told in her voice and I am given the impression by the author that we are supposed to be on Reese’s side.
“Understand there are no officers on this ship, so don’t be getting any ideas…we’re all equals except me. I’m more equal than everyone else.”