*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc Nophek Gloss – Book 1 of The Graven series by Essa Hansen #BrainfluffNETGALLEYbookreview #NophekGlossbookreview #SciFiMonth2020

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It was the cover of this one that caught my eye – it looked intriguing and the premise was great. So I was delighted to be approved for it. Would I enjoy it – I’ve been a bit disappointed with some of the space opera I’ve been reading, recently. And I’m linking this post to #Sci Fi Month 2020.

BLURB: Caiden’s planet is destroyed. His family gone. And, his only hope for survival is a crew of misfit aliens and a mysterious ship that seems to have a soul and a universe of its own. Together they will show him that the universe is much bigger, much more advanced, and much more mysterious than Caiden had ever imagined. But the universe hides dangers as well, and soon Caiden has his own plans. He vows to do anything it takes to get revenge on the slavers who murdered his people and took away his home. To destroy their regime, he must infiltrate and dismantle them from the inside, or die trying.

REVIEW: Well this one started with a bang! The book starts with the terrifying experience in young Caiden’s life that defines most of the resultant action within the story – I liked that. It meant that I knew exactly what had driven him.

While there are the usual tropes that occur within the genre, Hansen takes them and gives them an interesting spin. I liked the idea of the various universes – and an alien race whose relationship with them is quite different. I also liked the fact that rampant capitalism, which is a staple of this genre, is more nuanced and complicated within this world. In fact the worldbuilding works really well, which isn’t always the case in a book where the character development is so well done. I loved the crew of the ship that rescues Caiden. Each one of them has dark backstories of their own and were either able to use their own experiences to help the boy – or found interacting with him simply too painful.
Hansen’s layered characterisation, so that none of the protagonists are completely good or bad, shone through. As for Threi – Caiden’s initial antagonist – he has to be one of the standout villains of the year, for me.

One of the major themes in this book is how to cope with a terrible trauma. How do you avoid being twisted into a ball of vengeful fury? How do you overcome the pain and anger of injustice so you don’t go on reproducing that on others you interact with? And no… Hansen doesn’t fall back on Pollyanna-ish truisms to help Caiden fight his inner demons.

The plotting in this one is also spot on. I always love it when you are introduced to a person or creature at the beginning of the book as one thing, to find that actually, it is something quite different. Hansen uses this throughout the story to continue producing fresh plot twists throughout. In short, this is one of my favourite space opera adventures of the year – accomplished, well-crafted and packed full of action. It held me throughout and I’m very much looking forward to reading the next in the series. Highly recommended for fans of well written, character-led space opera set in a strong world.
10/10

9 responses »

  1. I was looking forward to some reviews for this one from my fellow bloggers, because I set it aside at the 40% mark (although I intend to pick it up again after a brief hiatus to see if it was a… “mood matter” more than anything else). Much as I enjoyed the beginning – it is traumatic just as much for the reader as it is for poor Caiden – the story moved into what I can only describe as “sensory overload”: there seemed to be *too much* of everything and almost no time to digest the staggering amount of information we receive. However, your review encourages me to give the book a second chance so… thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Oh, you’re absolutely right – it’s full on. A bit like Seven Devils and The Unconquerable Sun, the action does keep coming…

      Though it does calm down at somewhere between the 60%-70% mark, to allow Caiden to reflect a bit on where he is and where he’d yet to get to. So you might want to put it on one side until you’re feeling up for that kind of immersive roller-coaster ride:).

      • Yes – it is definitely a book that you need to read when you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed:). I’m finding that with a lot of books right now. I’m quite careful what I choose, depending on how I feel!

  2. Pingback: #SciFiMonth Mission Log: week three

    • Oh, it’s a really intense, full-on read. And takes the reader into some dark places, but Hansen manages to avoid this lapsing into full-on grimdark by her use of clever pacing and plot twists. I’m really looking forward to reading the next book!

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