Friday, March 14, 2014

Review: Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach

Devi Morris isn't your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It's a combination that's going to get her killed one day - but not just yet.

That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn't misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she's found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn't give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle.

If Sigouney Weaver in Alien met Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica, you'd get Deviana Morris -- a hot new mercenary earning her stripes to join an elite fighting force. Until one alien bite throws her whole future into jeopardy.

Fortune’s Pawn has been compared to Firefly, which doesn’t really do the book justice. Let’s be honest, just about every space opera released in the past five years has been compared to Joss Whedon’s Firefly, which makes the comparison feel stale and lacking when using it for a book like Fortune’s Pawn. Because Fortune’s Pawn is much, much better than Firefly. Rachel Bach’s book is a rollicking, rolling good time, competent even without the misty-eyed Firefly comparisons. This is the book that people who love a good space opera have been waiting for.

Devi is a mercenary, a hard drinking, ambitious woman who takes a spot as security on the Glorious Fool, a cargo ship that’s seen more than its share of action. A year on the Fool is the equivalent to five years in any other tour and will set Devi up for a prestigious assignment with her planet’s king (who functions almost as a deity), so she takes the assignment even though she knows there is definitely something off about the Fool.

This book is the first in a trilogy, and I have to say that the ending left me frustrated just for that reason. Readers that hate cliffhangers (here’s where I raise my hand high) will be irritated by the non-ending. But that’s really the only thing negative thing I can say about this book. I loved Devi, loved her brash, hardheaded nature, her interactions with the rest of the crew. I even enjoyed the romantic aspect of the book, which starts out as insta-lust and grows from there.

A warning to sci-fi fans, though: this book doesn’t read like a sci-fi, not like Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, for example. Instead, this book reads much more like an urban fantasy or even like Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series. There’s the heroine, trying to get the job done, the conspiracies swirling around her, and the love interest, there but completely unavailable. It’s a formula that works for me, and Fortune’s Pawn is no exception. For fans of hard science, this may be a drawback. But for those who enjoy more action than physics, this book should be right up your alley.

I really enjoyed Fortune’s Pawn, and I’m eagerly awaiting book two!

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