Friday, 23 October 2015
Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach
It's hard to sum up how I feel about this book. The author says she was looking to write a adventure-packed space romance, and that's definitely what she achieved. It was fun while I was reading it, once I got past the first chapter, but now that I'm done, I have absolutely no urge to run out and find the second book.
That's a problem, because the first book ends with multiple cliffhangers, threads that are left enticingly dangling. But none of them hit me hard enough that I need to know what happens next. Glowing spiders that only the main character can see? Shrug. The existence of violent space shapechangers? Interesting, but not.... Not enough. I just feel no urgency about it. That's a peculiar things.
So, I enjoyed the book. If the second book threw itself into my path, I'd read it. But Rachael Bach is not going on my list of authors I need to read more of. If I do, that's fine. I just won't be seeking it out.
Main character Devi is from Paradox, a feudal world with a Saint King. She's a mercenary who wants to be part of the Sainted King's Devastators, so she signs up for a year on a cursed spaceship, because people who survive that ship go places. On the ship, we run into several other species, including one, the xithcal, that she thinks devours humans as soon as look at them (and most of the do), but one of which is the ship's doctor.
Others on the ship are equally interesting. The captain's daughter is practically catatonic. Devi's roommate is a space hippie with psychokinetic powers. The navigator is a bird-like alien. And the cook is devastatingly handsome. (Also seems to be much stronger and better at combat than he should be, but that's another mystery, one I won't spoil.)
Devi helps fend of a xithcal attack, finds an area of a planet where clocks stop working, is attacked by an invisible huge creature, saved by something black and mysterious and dangerous, finds a dying space whale ship that was attacked by more xithcal. These xithcal appear to be something like zombies, and although Devi is assured by the doctor that nothing can be transmitted between species, something's going on there too.
Plus, she falls in love with the cook, and he with her, and there are sexytimes, followed up by a threat to fire her if she continues. She pines for him, he pines for her, and we end up with a cliffhanger on that as well.
All these cliffhangers, and yet I still have no desire to jump off the cliff. Sad. It's fast-paced, and the prose is mostly unobjectionable, although I found the dialogue in the first chapter very clunky. (Either it got better or I got used to it.) It's fun. I'm not saying it's not. But the fun is not the kind that grabs me tight and doesn't let me go. It's more easygoing fun, the kind that it feels okay to opt out of.