It was an impulse selection – having finished a not-very-exciting YA*, I thought SF would be a nice change of pace, and I recalled Debra Doyle & James D Macdonald‘s THE PRICE OF THE STARS being mentioned in several SF recommendation threads. And I realised I had bought the ebook** some time back. So I clicked on it and…
Best decision I’ve made this year. Seriously. (Though that may say more about my year so far than this book, admittedly.)
THE PRICE OF THE STARS feels like the first book that I’ve read in ages which had me really excited about reading the next book – maybe more so because I actually thought it was a standalone book (much like Helen Wright‘s A MATTER OF OATHS – sequel please?) and then found out not only was this the first book of a trilogy, but there was FOUR more books in the series (plus two short stories)***. At which point, I undertook a good old-fashioned glom and have been surviving on the bare minimum of sleep required because I needed to finish the story, dammit.
And then I obviously had to get on my blog to tell all of you about it. What blogging slump?
Right, after all that build-up – here’s the (accurate) back cover blurb:
Freebooter at heart, spacer by trade, Beka Rosselin-Metadi doesn’t want to hear about how her father whose rugged generalship held back the Mageworlds — or her highborn mother whose leadership has held the galaxy together since. Beka pilots spacecraft — as far from her famous family as possible. Then Beka’s mother is assassinated on the Senate floor, and her father offers her the title to Warhammer, prize ship from his own freebooting youth — if she agrees to deliver the assassins to him “off the books”.
Looking for assassins has a tendency to make assassins look for you. In doing so, Beka’s arranged her own very public death and adopted a new identity; now all she has to do is leave a trail of kidnappings and corpses across five star systems, and blow the roof off the strongest private fortress in the galaxy.
Firstly, it’s space opera. It’s a sub-genre I love (and I kind of feel that it’s seen as the non-trendy thing nowadays with very few new releases****) so I’m thrilled that I discovered this series. There’s full-on adventure and non-stop action as Beka, her siblings, and their companions race around the galaxy and try to stay alive while figuring out who the bad guys are and getting their revenge. There’s a bit of romance, lots of derring-do, and even some old-fashioned sword and staff fights amidst the starship battles. And it’s not pure SF – there’s equal action there on the magic front with some rather sneaky Adepts.
It’s very much a ensemble cast-type of story – there are multiple POVs and subplots, but I was never lost. I didn’t really have a particular favourite amongst the many characters, so I was perfectly happy just going with the flow and jumping between the different storylines. Maybe that was a weakness, in the sense that no one character completely won my heart, but this style worked for me.
It’s not perfect writing, but the story’s immensely fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It is satisfying story-telling, and if certain things stand out as being too obvious, there are also some out-of-nowhere twists that left me blinking – and needing to know more. Having finished the final book of the trilogy, I love the way the authors set up certain things in the first book to come to fruition in the third. THE PRICE OF THE STARS works rather well as a standalone, but there is some good payoff if you stick with the series.
So there you have it – one of my favourite reads of the year so far. I’m off to read the rest in the Mageworlds series now.
*Sarah Dessen’s new release THE MOON AND MORE – okay but a bit on the bland side
**This is why I love ebooks. This was published in 1992 – without ebooks, what are the chances I would actually have this to hand?
***And the authors have written more series!
****Unless I’m missing out, and in which case, recs please?