“Sacred Planet” by Austin Rogers

There is no more fun and relaxing read than a good, old-fashioned space opera. And “Sacred Planet” is space opera on steroids: a huge, sweeping saga, with epic settings and a cast of thousands. Maybe too much so, but we’ll get to that later.

As with all good epics, this tale covers the story from the general to the specific: from the decisions of the mighty in the seats of power all the way down to the struggles of the little people trying to survive. And we see them all, from alliances of hundreds of systems, through single planets and single cities to a rickety spaceship with a crew of four.

Who just happen to be on hand right after a treacherous attack on the luxury space yacht of a Very Important Heroine. They rescue her and are on the run for the rest of the book. In parallel, we have the story of a genetically created warrior who desperately tries to reconcile his sense of what is right with his drive to fulfill his destiny as the leader of an empire.

These two plotlines are set against a backdrop of political intrigue at the highest level, with detailed descriptions of a myriad of settings and planets, spaceships and battles at all levels as well. You can never get too much of too much in a space opera.

Well, not quite. For my liking, in this novel we spend too much time with the faceless bureaucrats and power brokers at the upper levels, and not enough time with the down-to-earth main characters. If you’ve seen Joss Wheedon’s “Serenity/Firefly” series, you’ll know what I mean. Davin the scavenger captain, Sierra the princess, and warrior antagonists Kastor the Eagle and Guarin the Swan are fully rounded characters with great internal and external conflicts, a real bonus in space opera. But there it stops. The upper levels of society get little individualization and less emotional connection. Even the other members of the scavenger crew are only roughly sketched in.

And along similar lines, this story jumps all over the galaxy about every third chapter. In each case, the opening of the chapter treats us to a wonderful description of the new setting. However, it doesn’t clue us in as to what part of the story we are viewing. Often there is only the name of one character, who we haven’t seen for ten chapters. So, instead of enjoying the description, we jump through it, saying, “Who is this person, and where the heck are we?”

Apart from this personal preference, I find Sacred Planet a great read, with incredible scope and detail. And I’m going to have to read the next book in the series, because this one ends on a cliffhanger.

Highly recommended for Space Opera fans.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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