Review of Mirror Space – Book 3 of The Sentients of Orion by Marianne de Pierres

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Araldis is still under occupation by hostile forces, and with the Orion League of Sentient Species seemingly unable – or unwilling – to help, Mira Fedor is forced to turn to the mercenary captain, Rast Randall, if she is to save her planet.

mirrorspaceBut while Rast’s contacts may be free of political constraints, what they lack in red tape they more than make up for in ruthlessness. As some of their hidden strategies are revealed, others become even more opaque. Why have the philosophers of Scolar been targetted? How far does the Extropist influence extend into Orion space?  From Lasper Farr, the Stain War veteran and ruler of the junk planet Edo, to the Sole initiates at Belle Monde to Rast herself, everyone is pursuing their own agenda. But are they really separate goals? Or are events rushing to a single, terrifying conclusion . . . ?

Of course, if you’re intelligent about your reading, you will have already read Dark Space and Chaos Space, the first two books in this series, so that the above synopsis will mean something to you. If – like me – you’re a such a space opera junkie that a cool spacescape cover and promising first page prove to be irresistible, then you’re probably scratching your head. My strong advice is not to read this book before the first two in the series. Some multi-book series are constructed so the story arcs more or less tie up a number of loose ends in each book, while leaving a few dangling to keep you reading. This isn’t one of them. Each volume is thoroughly embedded into the narrative, so that I was frankly floundering for a while. However, I didn’t really care too much.
Pierres’ cast of eccentric characters found themselves in such a range of fascinating situations that I was prepared to relax and go with the flow. This is largely down to the punchy writing style which was a joy to read, as sampled in the opening of the book:-
Falling in love was like being shot out into space wearing an EVA suit with five minutes’ air supply left. At least that was the analogy Jo-Jo Rasterovich applied to it – having experienced both.

And there I was, hooked. I’m now going to backtrack to Dark Space and start from the beginning, before moving through the rest of the series, which is the sensible way to read any multi-book narrative.

Despite the fact that I crashed mid-series into this world, and spent a while getting my bearings, it didn’t prove to be too difficult. While the pace isn’t leisurely, neither is it so flat-out that the characters and their role in the story became buried, which was something of an issue when I pulled Code Noir off the shelf without reading the first Parrish Plessis book. Indeed, I am impressed at the steep improvement in Pierres’ overall writing style from Code Noir to Mirror Space. She has the balance between character development and action far more satisfactory and the pacing is better judged with a few pauses for breath, before plunging us into yet another piece of action. And in smoothing out some of the crinkles, I’m delighted to report that she hasn’t lost her sharp, highly readable prose style. All in all, she is shaping up to be a real player in this genre and I am definitely starting a campaign for the first two books as early Christmas presents… please!
8/10

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