on 28 September 2014
An extremely fun, fast paced romp across the stars from Terry Mixon, long-time contributor to the quite wonderful writing podcast Dead Robots Society. It is to Mr Mixon's credit that I enjoyed the book as thoroughly as I did, as yes, while I'm a big ol' sci-fi geek, I'm less John Ringo, more Douglas Adams. I'm wildly ambivalent when it comes to military fiction as well, but these hang ups disappeared the deeper I dug into Empire of Bones.
The real meat and potatoes of the story is an intriguing and initially deeply fractious sibling relationship between our two leads Jared and Kelsey. They are both well drawn characters, but I'd say its Kelsey's bored princess that has the biggest arc as she travels into the unknown. By the story's end, following a series of twists and turns, the established status-quo is left in pieces, and let's just say I'll definitely be picking up book two "Veil of Shadows".
I'm very appreciative of Mixon's balance of real world tech-speak and outright sci-fi technobabble. You'll never find long prosaic paragraphs dedicated to the nuts and bolts of How This S*** Works. The world-building is economical yet effective, and that actually speaks to a larger point in Mixon's favour; the pacing. Breezy without being lightweight, Mixon knows when to cut to the chase (before perhaps, cutting to an ACTUAL chase), offering a honed mix-tape of character beats, shocks, dread, and explosions.
Empire of Bones come highly recommended then, all be it with two very small caveats. Though the plot of this story is resolved, I'd say the emotional core is not. Mixon layers in many seeds that will no doubt come to glorious fruition in later books, and as long as you know that going in, you'll come away satisfied. Also, and this is more of a taste thing, there's a lack of conflict in Empire of Bones. Oh, there are formidable Bad Guys aplenty, but I'm talking about conflict amongst our heroes. The political and familial intrigue between an illegitimate son to the Emperor and his half-sister was very well set up, but the galaxy-hopping narrative quickly puts it on the back-burner- Jared and Kelsey quickly move past their supposed years of hatred. But what I'm actually getting at is the wider ensemble. Everyone gets along fabulously, gelling together into a likeable, but a touch forgettable, team. This could be a stylistic thing, or equally a trade off for the laser focus on our two leads.
Either way, Empire of Bones is probably best considered a hugely enjoyable taster, laying the essential groundwork for future complexities and nuance to come. Bravo.
on 16 December 2014
Jared Mertz, not to be confused with any progeny of Ethel Mertz, is a Commander in the Imperial Navy of the reborn Terran Empire centered on a planet named Avalon. He has had an uphill battle to prove himself and safeguard his projection of integrity during his career because when he joined a blood test showed that he was a royal.
The reborn Terran Empire has spread out pretty well since reentering space but they still lack a lot of technology that was lost with the fall of the first Empire. Good excuse to send out scouting expeditions looking to recover useful things and maybe go a little BSG, Battlestar Galactica for those of you not...hip, in hunting down Earth.
Commander Mertz is looking forward to the responsibility of safeguarding a freighter loaded with scientists through unexplored space right up until the last minute of departure when he gets saddled with last minute crew including his royal sister as an Ambassador.
A critique I would give on the plot is that I feel the expeditions are going out really under-gunned. Granted this navy has not actually fought a war but they have existed with the damage from the last one of the Old Empire. Surely they can’t think the Galaxy is now benign?
Enough with the almost spoilers dude! I really enjoyed this series kick off and plan to continue reading them as they come out. Four out of five rail gun shots in the face of the Pale Ones!
on 23 September 2014
There's some fascinating character relationships in this story. I loved the relationship between Kelsey and Jared and how it evolved and I'm keen to see how the revelations in the story impact the universe it's all set in. The story itself is pretty good, And is told at a pretty decent pace. I'm keen to read the next book when it comes out not just to find out where the story goes but to learn more about the world it's set in. There is a lot of history there which I hope will be revealed in the future books.
I zipped through the whole novel at a pretty good pace, but the last few chapters stepped up a gear and I couldn't put it down. Very keen to read the next novel :)