Sunday 11 May 2014

#CBR6 Book 47: "Fortune's Pawn" by Rachel Bach

Page count: 330 pages
Rating: 4 stars

I picked up this book because one of my favourite authors, Ilona Andrews, recommended it on her blog. I don't normally like science fiction all that much, but this seemed to be focused more on action and adventure, and I've liked recommendation from her blog before, and figured I'd give it a try.

Deviana "Devi" Morris is a professional mercenary, and has pretty much risen as fast and as high in the ranks of the elite corps of the Blackbirds as she can go. Her dream is to become a Devastator, the elite guard of armoured soldiers who guard the God King of Paradox, her home planet. However, the Devestators only take soldiers who have proven themselves to be exceptional, and it seems the only way Devi may show herself worthy of their attention is by surviving a stint as a security guard aboard the Glorious Fool, captained by the supposedly cursed Captain Carswell. To begin with, Devi is disbelieving the job can lead to any flashy promotions, with the shifts involving nothing but standard security detail, taking care of her precious custom-made armour and flirting with the handsome and mysterious cook, Rupert Chekov.

But Devi needn't have worried. Once they get the ship fully crewed and start their trade runs, the ship keeps being attacked, and Carswell keeps sending Devi and her partner into increasingly more dangerous situations. Every time the ship docks, the captain, Rupert and the captain's deeply introverted daughter goes off on mysterious missions, and the more time Devi spends around Rupert, the more convinced she is that he is much more than a mild-mannered cook. He can single-handedly take on blood-thirsty aliens and wield Devi's guns without any noticeable after-effects, despite Devi breaking her arms if she tries to fire them outside her armour. Ignoring every warning she gets, Devi keeps prying into Carswell and Rupert's secrets, not caring that the answers may the fastest way for her to end up dead.

While I don't tend to like sci-fi in books, I do like a good action movie, and this book reads very much like a sci-fi action adventure. Devi is a very capable action heroine. She loves her custom-made robot armour as if it were her own child, and has names for all her weapons. She's tough as nails and almost obsessively focused on her career. She likes guys, and is not ashamed of her sexual history, yet seems almost flummoxed by her intense attraction to the sexy and mysterious Rupert. At first, he seems to return her attraction, but then it seems he was just making friends with her on orders from the captain. Yet all Devi's instincts scream that there's more to him that meets the eye. Same with the rest of the crew. Why is it so difficult for Carswell to keep his security crew alive? What is it about his little trade vessel that attracts so much hostile attention? A year on his ship seems to count as five years experience in other armed forces.

As well as the humans, who seem to be split into the Terrans (who are pretty much like you'd think future humans would be), there are the Paradoxians who live in a more feudal society ruled by their God King. Devi seems to be in the smarter spectrum for a Paradoxian, her partner in security on Fortune's Fool is a macho goon, without much brains or finesse. Carswell, his daughter and Rupert are all Terrans, but there are all sorts of hints that the cook's not like other humans. As well as the humanoids, there are scaly lizard aliens who eat people, and big psychic jellyfish-like aliens. There are invisible tentacled beasts and telepathic space hippies.

There are three books in the series, and this book certainly leaves you wanting more. Quite a few of the mysteries are answered, at least for the reader, but there are several that still need to be solved, and I suspect I'm going to read the whole series, just to find out if Devi finally manages to succeed in her quest.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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