Occasionally, once every couple of years, I read a book that induces a drug-like euphoria. These aren’t necessarily fine works of fiction, in fact I don’t think fine works of fiction have ever fallen into this category. The books are almost always space opera with very strong female characters. Sometimes there’s a touch of romance but not always. I don’t know exactly what it is about these books but after I finish reading them I feel like my soul has been refreshed.

This evening I finished reading Fortune’s Pawn, by Rachel Bach. Devi Morris is a mercenary who has grown up on a feudal-based world. She’s a peasant but is a very good fighter and has advanced rapidly through the ranks. However, what she really wants is to be a Devastator, one of the king’s elite bodyguard. To achieve that goal, she’s willing to do pretty much anything including signing up for security duty on a ship that has a reputation for being cursed.

The book is written in first person, which I normally avoid like the plague. Our library subscribes to a service called Wowbrary which sends me weekly emails of new stuff our libraries order. I saw Fortune’s Pawn and decided to request it in spite of, or perhaps because of, Publisher Weekly’s lackluster review1. In addition, the author had written a fantasy series, under a different name2, that I thought was pretty good.

I’m very glad I gave the book a chance. It’s not a deep-thinking book at all. Devi isn’t overly deep and doesn’t aspire to be deep either. There’s a bit of mystery, a bit of romance, and quite a lot of blowing things up. The book ends without resolving much of the plot3 but Amazon claims the next two books will be out toward the beginning of next year so hopefully they’re already written and everything works out for Devi beautifully. Everyone views books differently so it’s hard to say for sure what type of reader would like this book. However, I think if you like David Weber’s Path of the Fury4, you’d probably like this book too.

As an aside, this book was published by Orbit and they seem to be putting out quite a bit of stuff that I like recently. Hopefully the trend continues.

  1. I’m not convinced Publisher Weekly has a SF reader writing their SF reviews as I’ve disagreed with several of the reviews I’ve seen from them recently. Of course, everyone has different opinions and this book certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, I recall one review recently where they thought the SF book was revolutionary and it really wasn’t even close to revolutionary for a SF book.
  2. The Eli Monpress series written under the name Rachel Aaron
  3. Which normally I hate but while the major plot thread is hanging I think the book itself resolved ok.
  4. The original Alicia Dierdre DeVries book, not the much expanded In Fury Born version

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