This is the sixth book set in the same universe, but the first of a new sub-series, I think following at least some of the main characters (one for sure, and definitely most of the principles have been around. I kind of knew going in that I wasn’t starting at ground zero, but figured if the writing was good, I’d probably be fine.
And I was right, mostly. This isn’t a bad jumping off point into the universe, but I was definitely missing some things, some nuances in the society that previous books built, some in-universe jokes and references.
But it still worked okay. Ms. Huff establishes quickly that this is a setting with some previously filled in background, dropping bits and pieces as you need them to figure things out as you go along. There are, at one point, quick summaries of previous plots made by a background character to another background character to establish the main protagonist as someone not to be f’ed with and also to provide some great rationale for her PTSD-related issues.
In a way, this book is filling in some more background, and the variety of species, each with a distinct, if still relatable, outlook and the interaction between members of those species is where the book lives. The primary characters have an easy familiarity between them, built from friendship and shared struggles. They mesh together well and the understand species and personality differences can be both sources of conflict and amusement, sometimes at the same time.
The “bad guys” on the other hand, aren’t bad in their own eyes, which is nice, but aren’t particularly likeable or relatable. The only reason they have to be together is the money they’re going to make at the end of things if successful, and no one seems to care much how many of them make it to that success until it looks like they’re not going to make it on their own. The leader has different motivations, of course, which makes things a little more stressful for everyone there.
As for the overall plot, well, it’s essentially a race to see who gets to the big gun first, and the bad guys have a head start. To be honest, it’s fairly linear and predictable. There’s never really any doubt about how things might turn out for the bad guys. The good guys have different measures of success depending on who knows what when everything is over, which makes the denouement period interesting.
Overall rating: 3 stars. It was a decent read, and I liked it, and while it stands okay on its own, I suspect it would get an extra star if I had more of the background from the previous books. Maybe that’s the direction I should take.
Be well, everyone.by