Blades of the Fallen, by Ross Harrison

An awesome, Mass Effect-esque adventure of galactic proportions.

What seemed to be a simple assignment for two aspiring Vanguard turned into a haunting nightmare. Necurians are generally a peaceful race, but the upcoming conflict is going to test any and all of their convictions as they pursue a merciless killer across space.

Let me just say: wow. This was excellent from start to finish. Such a beautiful, expansive, and detailed world was created amidst so few pages. There were only a few instances of long, lengthy explanations of history or backstory. The rest was spread out and drip-fed as it became relavent to the plot so as not to overwhelm the reader. Great care was taken in the creation of the world and it really shows.

Allegories for sexism and racism in the modern world were also heavy themes throughout. There were arguments done from both sides, and it was tasteful, meant to actually make the reader ponder about morality for a moment.

The characters were wonderful as well. Significant differences were seen in their personalities at the end. Their development was thorough, emotional, and relevant to the kind of character they were. Psionic abilities were given to the Necurians, but they weren’t all-powerful. Appropriate nerfs were applied to their powers so that they still had challenges to overcome.

The depth of the plot was astounding. There were a few different storylines intersecting throughout, all coming from different characters and different corners of the galaxy. Some were shorter than others, yet still necessary to either plot or character development. I didn’t have any questions left over at the end, nor was I left feeling unfulfilled at the resolution itself. Fight scenes are hard to pull off, and this novel excelled at them.

This was an excellent book. The opening was a little slow, but once past that, it doesn’t stop. I can see inspiration drawn from several big-name fantasy and sci-fi sources. And, it was sci-fi made accessible for the casual reader. The writing style kept the readers attention, and felt fresh and fun the whole way through. This was a wonderful book. Definitely an author I want to keep an eye on.

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Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Cafe, by Richard Dee

6_5_17 Andorra Pett

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What’s better than reading a crime-filled drama? A crime-filled drama…in space!

 

Jokes aside, Andorra Pett and her best friend Cyril take a giant leap to change their lives. By giant leap, I mean they pack up and go to a space station. Near Saturn. Away from the desolation of their romantic lives, the Oort Cloud Cafe might be the answer. It is, only not in the ways they expect.

 

For crime fiction, this had a much lighter tone than I ever expected. It fit in very well with the narrative. The main character’s not a journalist, detective, or even a curious observer. Things don’t feel gritty and hard-edged. Andi wants to start her life over as the owner of a little cafe. She doesn’t have a predisposition for many of the circumstances presented. Yet, she still manages to prove herself without going over the top. That right there sets the tone of what to expect from the characters.

 

What sets this apart is that it’s not a heart-pounding, race-against-time thriller. There’s plenty of tense moments to be sure, but this takes a different approach. It’s very character-driven. There’s quite the cast, all with their own uniqueness to add to the story. They’re all tied together on the tiny space station. Individual stories help push the plot forward. When the time’s right to start foreshadowing, the differences cast harsh suspicion. One minute X might be guilty, the next it was could be Y. Building the narrative in such a way took great care, and it shows.

 

I could probably go on and on about the characterization quite a bit. Development of the two mains, Cy and Andi, was wonderful. Even though it’s told in first person, the reader knows the supporting characters as well as Andi. Steady narrative progression builds up the world and the characters piece by piece. Each part shows careful attention to detail and continuity. Everything feels solid. Things feel tied up at the end. It’s part of a series, but feels like it could be its own standalone novel. Kind of like Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. Only without the young adult tone.

 

This was a really good book in a myriad of ways. Characters, plot, and structure were all spot-on. The story itself was well-written and entertaining. Things were easy to visualize without being jargon-heavy. I can say without a doubt that I’ll be on the lookout for Andorra Pett’s next adventure.

 

Buy it here!