Review: Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach

œFortune's Pawn by Rachel BachFormat read: ebook (purchased)
Formats available: ebook, paperback, audiobook
Genre: science fiction romance
Series: Paradox, #1
Length: 341 pages
Publisher: Orbit
Date Released: November 5, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Devi Morris isn’t your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It’s a combination that’s going to get her killed one day – but not just yet.

That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn’t misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she’s found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn’t give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle.

If Sigouney Weaver in Alien met Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica, you’d get Deviana Morris — a hot new mercenary earning her stripes to join an elite fighting force. Until one alien bite throws her whole future into jeopardy.

My Review:

I picked this up because I was in desperate need of some space opera – and Marlene had nothing but nice things to say. Plus, she reassured me this was a not just an excuse to have tentacle sex in zero gravity. (Before you ask, no I have not read the book I linked to. But when you google “tentacle sex zero g” – it was the first hit.)

First things first, Devi is no Ripley. Particularly not Ripley from Alien (1979). As a die-hard fan of the Alien series, I can assure you that Ripley began as a hidebound rule follower willing to let her crew die in order to follow standard protocol. Basically the opposite of Devi. The Starbuck reference works for me. Just imagine Starbuck with actual career ambitions – though all the self-sabotaging behaviors intact.

Generally, the most important part of any foray into a new science fictional universe is the world-building. Which, to be perfectly honest, Fortune’s Pawn was rather lacking on. There are two primary human governments….maybe? They are allies-ish? Possibly a theocracy vs democracy situation, or is it a monarchy vs corporatocracy dynamic?

In this particular instance, the ambiguity works. You do not get the impression that the universe doesn’t make sense, simply that Devi, our POV character, doesn’t really give two shits about it. Devi is a woman driven by one goal: to become the best-of-the-best-of-the-best, SIR! (Anyone catch that reference?) Politics and sociology are ancillary to her desire to be one of the most feared fighters in her society, so she doesn’t dwell on them.

Which is why it is such a rude shock to her to learn that bureaucracy plays a role in recruitment of Devastators. Following the advice of a friend, she leaps at the chance for a shortcut, resigns her commission, and signs up to work freelance security on the most dangerous ship flying. Devi’s single-minded ambition prevents her from asking questions she really should be asking, and allows her to stumble blindly into the middle of sociopolitical FUBAR that could do far worse than kill her off.

Devi’s colleagues aboard the Glorious Fool each harbor a wide-range of personality disorders that may not lay out precisely why they are on the suicide ship, but definitely imply enough for the readers to explore some possibilities. (Though not Devi, the girl is a bit dense.)

The only thing that fell flat for me was the “romance.” It was a very minor subplot, so it did not detract from the story as a whole….but seriously, is Devi really so damn desirable that a guy would gamble away careers and lives on the chance to hit that? No. She’s really not.

Escape Rating: B+ for blazed right through it and on to books 2 and 3. Fortune’s Pawn is a very enjoyable read, and leaves you, not with an eye-gougingly irritating cliffhanger, but a huge dose of wtf that means you will immediately pick up Honor’s Knight. (Review to follow next week.)



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