RogerBW's Blog

UnArcana Stars, Glynn Stewart 17 March 2023

2018 SF, sixth of its series. Everyone was expecting the newly-seceded Republic to attack the Proctecorate, but it's been eighteen months without any movement…

I remain somewhat frustrated at the slow pace of overall developments in this series, but there is at least a lot happening here. Space battles, sure, but (as in Stewart's other series that I've read) space battles that are both rooted in how this specific setting's tech works, and about the people in the battle much more than they are about the explodey spaceships.

I care about these people. I want them to triumph.

There are more viewpoints than usual, in particular from new Ensign Roslyn Chambers, who finds her training cruise turning rather more deadly than anyone expected. So yes, she gets to do the right thing and be a hero; but somehow neither she nor the much more powerful Montgomery ends up feeling over-powered. They still hurt, they still have reasonable fears when going into dangerous situations, they are still people.

We also get some splendid sequences aboard a spy ship, with a realistic appreciation of just how hard that is to do in space (and yes, this is a setting with magic, and it wouldn't work without it).

All right, apparently the intelligence services of the Protectorate have been sitting around playing Freecell since the Republic seceded, because there's far less preparedness for an enemy strike than there ought to be. (And not even a clue about how the enemy are managing FTL travel without access to more than a few mages of their own, though I have some ideas.) Still, the Republic hasn't had to deal with anything like a peer power before, and that kind of blank spot can get a long way into a culture if it's never tested.

As always, don't expect wonders, but this is definitely a cut above standard military space opera for me.

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Previous in series: Pulsar Race | Series: Starship's Mage | Next in series: Sword of Mars
Series: UnArcana Rebellion | Next in series: Sword of Mars

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