Prominence: A Space Opera Adventure (Blackstar Command Book 1) by A. C. Hadfield.
When I think “space opera” I think of grand vistas and complicated plots, books that are uplifting, showing human endeavor amid deadly danger. The original Foundation trilogy is perfect example.
Prominence lacks the feel of grandeur. Instead it feels like YA fiction where things just happen, and teen heroes save the day. For instance, our protagonist, Kai, is able to contact not one but two military leaders – admirals and equivalent – in a war zone, insult one and make demands on the other, and both admirals take his call and listen. Further the military leadership sends Kai to find his missing father and retrieve a rumored piece of very high tech left behind by the mysterious Navigator aliens. How realistic is this?
The blurb indicates the Coalition is fighting for its life against the Host, that the Host seeks its annihilation. Yet we learn near the end that both groups include aliens and some humans, that the main difference is the Host values life above all while the Coalition is “more pragmatic”. That does not jibe with the annihilation bit.
I managed to finish it although the last third was difficult. Hadfield had a reasonable story in the first third or so, then it got unbelievable and boring. The characters are stock folks from the shelf. Pacing and style are OK.
Overall 2 Stars
Fringe Runner (Fringe Series, #1) by Rachel Aukes
Fringe Runner is better than Prominence. The novel’s main problems are uneven pacing and a thin plot with too many people acting far too gullible. It wasn’t boring exactly but I never felt connected to the characters and the backstory was far fetched.
The two main planets in the Collective are Alluvia and Myr, both originally colonized by Earth, and a few smaller colonies called the Fringe Earth allowed Alluvia and Myr their independence immediately but the two did not treat their colonies with the same pragmatic respect.. Alluvia and Myr keep the Fringe worlds and their people in tight control and treat them as little more than cheap forced labor or cannon fodder.
What I kept wondering: Where is Earth? If Earth colonized Alluvia and Myr, then it presumably is still around. Why does Earth have no role or voice in the Collective? No ambassador, no trade, nothing. That doesn’t make sense.
Characters were a notch above cardboard but they didn’t feel real to me. Main character Aramis Reyne should be fun to read about. He’s older, arthritic, tired of living on the edge of bankruptcy, tired of his former friends think him a traitor. Somehow I just couldn’t get interested in him. In the last third of the novel Reyne is extraordinarily gullible, first falling for the old “my friend told me” and then following a complete unknown to a set up ambush. Nope. Sorry, but if Reyne is that stupid then he wouldn’t have lived past the earlier uprising.
The backstory was a touch unbelievable too. Sure, I can see Myr and Alluvia acting like overlords and treating the Fringe like serfs, but I can’t see the Fringe members of the Collective military going along with it, or at least not making some trouble along the way. The political situation described is too fragile to last as long as it supposedly has.
Writing style was OK. Dialogue and pacing were problematic but again the biggest issue is sheer lack of compelling interest. I kept putting the story down and having a hard time remembering who was who and what was happening even just a day later. I won’t pursue the series.
I received both books for free through Instafreebie