RogerBW's Blog

Interstellar Mage, Glynn Stewart 30 August 2023

2017 SF, first of its sub-series. David Rice lost his merchant ship, but the Mage-King of Mars has given him a new one. And there almost isn't a price…

This trilogy makes up a side story in the Starship's Mage universe, returning to the captain whose ship Damien Montgomery signed up with back in Starship's Mage Omnibus. This is set before the big rebellion breaks out in UnArcana Stars, so the environment is essentially one of peace with complications. And it scales things back: we're not dealing witht the Fate of the Protectorate here but with the well-being of onr merchant crew.

Well, one merchant crew with a huge ship that needs, even more than a regular merchant, to be constantly on the move with the holds full to keep the balance sheet in the green: the ship's too well-armed to compete in the core worlds, and too big to make a profit in the periophery. Fortunately the Mage-King's agents have some helpful suggestions…

…and yeah, soon enough the stakes are upped again, not helped by the succession plan set up by the crime lord David was partly responsible for killing. There are shenanigans aboard ships and on space stations, taking full advantage of the extra hazards of a constructed environment surrounded by vacuum. There are personal shenanigans too, because with the hasty expansion of crew to run a larger ship than before, there's every possibility that some bad eggs got through.

Still, Stewart does his usual excellent job of making the moment-to-moment stuff interesting and enjoyable to read about, even as larger matters are slightly stretching my credulity. And at least I can say "this is a ship that attracts trouble, because her size makes her a tempting prize and her captain has a reputation" and not have to worry about how any interstellar trade would happen if all voyages were this exciting.

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Previous in series: Starship's Mage Omnibus | Series: Starship's Mage | Next in series: Mage-Provocateur
Series: Starship's Mage Red Falcon | Next in series: Mage-Provocateur

  1. Posted by John P at 11:04pm on 30 August 2023

    I wondered whether you would get onto this spin off. I've enjoyed this series - perhaps more than the bits of the main Montgomery series. There's a bigger cast of characters and so there is more going on.

    What I really want to find is a something with a small trader trying to make a living against the odds. I don't need huge epics with galactic ramifications at every turn. Something like C J Cherryh's Merchanters Luck (terrific book but too short) or Andre Norton's Solar Queen series (but more grown up).

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 11:07pm on 30 August 2023

    Yes, I enjoy the significant covert-ops stuff, but I'd like to see a story in this setting about a trade ship that just has to do the best it can, without a combat mage or a brick of "retired" Marines.

    (contemplates the inevitable GURPSification of the setting)

  3. Posted by John P at 11:40pm on 31 August 2023

    This setting. Any setting. Maybe have to end up writing it myself.

  4. Posted by RogerBW at 10:08am on 01 September 2023

    Well, yeah, but then it's basically Traveller isn't it?

  5. Posted by John P at 06:59pm on 01 September 2023

    Maybe, but I'll settle for whatever I can get.

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