18 June 2016
This story has everything you want in a Sci-Fi adventure story. There is action, humour (I laughed so hard I cried in some bits!), some awesome battle scenes, brilliant tech, fantastic characters, and a sensational galaxy full of different aliens, planets and starships to pull it all together.
As I was reading this, I realised it had a very similar feel to ‘Firefly/Serenity’, but with a wider variety of species.
There is a crew that is out ‘In the Black’ as such, like Firefly, trying to survive, but living by a very decent code of ethics, trying to help others. And the crew is made up of a bunch of misfits, each with their own distinct background.
Dalzelle has gone to great lengths to create some exceptional characters, from the Captain, Jason Burke, the only known ‘Human’ in space, to Doc, Crusher, Lucky, Cage and Twingo. He has given each their own unique story, and with each new book, this grows a bit more.
Add to this the ship, the amazing ‘Phoenix’ reborn from the ashes, which they cruise around the stars in and you have a complete crew. The fact that Dalzelle has made the ship an extra crew member is an indication of not only how attached to the ship he is (and the research he has done), but also the appreciation he has for this genre. Dalzelle obviously loves his Sci-Fi tech, giving us the readers some awesome toys to enjoy, including as mentioned the DL7. Each time there are new bits of kit, a new bit of the ship gets talked about, and it's obvious he has put in a lot of work to make sure that the tech and science not only sounds (or is based on realism) but is easy for us to understand.
Tying it all together is a brilliant storyline, keeping you on the edge of each page, and wanting more. As I said before, there is a real ‘Serenity’ feel to this (or for those old enough to remember it, ‘Blake’s 7’), with the ragtag crew, an awesome ship, and them just hanging on by the skin of their teeth, all the while trying to help out the little guy.
There are some spectacular fight scenes, both in space and on the ground, and again, Dalzelle has made a real effort to give a realistic feel to the combat, with some epic space battles, as well as bloody hand-to-hand combat. Crusher is just plain brutal and a lot of fun to read about in close combat.
And that is the best part of this series (as with things like Firefly and Blake’s 7), they are designed to be exceptional stories that entertain, and engage, are a lot of fun and take you away from it all. Dalzelle succeeds on all of these points so easily.
If you want a quick summary of the story, this time around Jason and the Crew find themselves accept a job to help a planetary government that is having trouble with pirate and terrorist attacks. The crew soon wonder if they are not only doing the right thing by helping a government, if it is within their mandate, but also, if they have bitten off more than they can chew. Without giving too much away, they find themselves faced with some difficult moral and ethical dilemmas and as they delve deeper into the mystery of what is going on, they suddenly realise this might well be the end for some of them as well. This was a well written and exciting part of the series, with political intrigue, pirates and some brutal fighting.
This is a continuing saga too, and he is keeping it fresh and moving along, something that can be difficult to do sometimes, stories can get bogged down. However, not only can you not put this down, I am already into the next book.
This is a brilliant series and I am only thankful that I have started it when there are already so many volumes already out and available!