This book divides itself neatly into two sections, each encompassing a different genre.
This is a standard soft-science Space Opera. No ink is wasted on the physics of space travel such as speed, time or distance, which is fine. Star Trek didn’t do any different. Characters are likeable, sympathetic and more individualistic than the usual stereotypes in this genre.
In the early part of the book, there is a good space battle scene, and while using the space ships like bumper cars is stretching the rules a bit, it’s acceptable.
Action sequences on the ground are less practical. For example, in one section, someone is close enough to the pirates that one spits tobacco on his shoulder but doesn’t notice him. Soon after, one of the pirates gets close enough to urinate on his foot, but doesn’t see him until he exclaims. Space Opera is rife with humour, but it shouldn’t collide with believability.
And then, like Alice down the rabbit hole, the Osprey goes through a wormhole and comes out in a Fantasy story. I won’t discuss the plotline because that would give too much away, but the second half of the story takes place in a sort of underground Middle Earth on Mars, with trolls, dwarfs, fairies, gremlins and flying half-man, half-scorpions. Who speak Latin.
This mishmash is all sorts of fun, with an incredible amount of creativity in the world-building. However, when it comes to conflict, too much magic of different sorts leaves no scope for suspense. Whatever dangerous situation arises, the author will provide a ninety-degree turn in the plot that negates it. After a while we stop worrying that anything will go seriously wrong, and just go along for the ride.
The Bottom Line
All of this would seem to be leading towards a nice, plain, three-star review, if it wasn’t for the poor editing. For example, the author uses the same paragraph of tactics, verbatim, in two separate spaceship battles.
One of the best scenes in the book, a great Garden of Eden-based argument between a mysterious Satan-like demagogue and one of Osprey’s crew members, is well-argued on both sides, with clear logic and rising tension. Unfortunately, there is one glaring hole in the enemy’s story that negates his argument, and no one notices it.
There are also some smaller grammar and spelling errors.
If you enjoy both Sci-Fi and Fantasy with the kitchen sink thrown in, this is the book for you.
This review was originally published on Reedsy Discovery.(2 / 5)