I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series – The Cold Between – see my review here. Luckily, the library also had the second book, so I was able tuck into this one before I’d forgotten the plot of the first space opera adventure.
Six weeks ago, Commander Elena Shaw and Captain Greg Foster were court-martialled for their role in an event Central Gov denies ever happened. Yet instead of a dishonourable discharge or time in a military prison, Shaw and Foster and are now back together on Galileo. As punishment, they’ve been assigned to patrol the nearly empty space of the Third Sector. But their mundane mission quickly turns treacherous when the Galileo picks up a distress call: Exeter, a sister ship, is under attack from raiders.
This space opera adventure is a cracker – I love the complex characterisation and nuanced responses of the main protagonists. While this is a continuation from the first book, if you haven’t read it, I think you could still work out who was doing what to whom without too much difficulty. And while you might miss out on some of the extra ramifications, you certainly would be able to negotiate the world and follow the action, while appreciating what is at stake – which is a lot. However, to get the best out of this book, I do recommend that you get hold of The Cold Between and read it before tucking into this offering.
However, Bonesteel’s great strength is the portrayal of her cast. Elena is a great main character – she is a skilled mechanic as well as brave and stubborn. However, she also has vulnerabilities and weaknesses, too. As does every other character in this engrossing story, where as well as trying to fulfil their mission – or otherwise – they are all reacting off each other in highly stressful circumstances in ways that feel completely realistic. The pacing in this story is slower than the previous headlong pelt through the book, where Elena’s pairing with an unjustly accused PSI captain triggered many of the events that are reverberating through this more complex story with a wider scope.
I took my time reading this one – something I don’t do very often, because I simply didn’t want it to end. I love character-led adventures and Bonesteel’s writing really chimes with me. Other than Elena, whom I love, my favourite character is the abrasive, intelligent Raman Çelik, the captain of poor old Exeter, the ship that is attacked in the opening passage of the book. He isn’t very nice – in fact, he isn’t nice at all. But his charisma and tendency to jab at everyone around him to wind them up and his dogged determination to track down those responsible for the damage done to his ship and crew helps to power this story forward.
The final denouement is suitably exciting and an appropriate payoff for readers who have invested their time to read this gripping story – and I certainly didn’t realise who the traitor was. The initial main plotline – who is responsible for attacking the Exeter and why – is certainly adequately addressed in this adventure, but this is part of a trilogy and there is a massive plotpoint dangling with a sudden heartbreaking twist right near the end of this adventure. I’m very glad that the final book, Breach of Containment is due to arrive on the library shelves any day now – I’ve got an order in to read it as soon as it does, because I really, really want to know what happens next.
Highly recommended for fans of character-led space opera adventure.