This was a really fun book, it was a nicely plotted, very contained story, which was full of characters that I liked!
The main story centres around a planetary crime boss and her hired mercenaries, but really it’s about undercutting a bad corporation and helping an indigenous race on the planet escape possible destruction and/or exploitation. There are some delightful subtleties to the story, which I won’t spoil because the add so much character to the story, which definitely elevated over other space mercenary stories.
In some ways there are lots of sci-fi tropes that you might have read one too many times. Space mercenaries with a heart of gold, redemption arcs and that sort of thing. But again, all the accents on the story make it very enjoyable. I also really liked all the characters, Angel the mercenary, Rosie the crime boss, Kennedy the artificial intelligence (of course!) and the various supporting characters (of which soooo many were women, which is my jam). I just enjoyed the different personalities of the characters as well, there was a good mix and their banter was top notch.
I think it did take a while to get to the main action, but everything was so interesting and propelled the plot along at a reasonable clip that it didn’t get tiring. There was enough action and story telling to make it a very fun read and once I got going, I started consuming 100-200 pages in a sitting.
That being said, there were definite shifts in settings that were a bit jarring, for example seeing some characters always in one context and then they do something massively different (and dramatic). The stakes needed to be high enough at the end, but with defter plotting maybe it wouldn’t have seemed that incongruous (or maybe they had to make some dramatic edits for length). The same applies to maybe one too many sub-plots weaving together again at the main dramatic point at the end. It felt the tiniest bit unearned, but again, it’s still really enjoyable so these are relatively minor quibbles.
The other thing I enjoyed was that the stakes seemed not enormous, it wasn’t saving the galaxy, it was just one planet. The stakes were relatively low (well, aside from the exploitation of an alien race), the geography limited in scope and the motivations of the characters pretty clear. There are hints at potential bigger things, if there’s a sequel planned that I’d like to know more about. It was these hints though that made some of the pay off at the end feel unearned, but if it leads to other things, than fine.
Anyway, the cover is fantastic, the characters are great and overall it’s lots of fun.