If you know me, you know I've loved all of Alex's books. This one was no different. It's still got his easy to read style, likable and realistic characters, conflict on the personal and galactic scale and amazing world building that is easy to fall into. I love that Alex writes complex stories that don't feel complex until you take a step back and really look at it.
That's talent! I mean, there is amazing technology laced throughout this book, but you never feel bogged down by it. Alex also presents these great science fiction themes in a way that feels fresh and new.
Let's break things down.
Aden Pendar is the son of a Duke. In the beginning he is exactly what you think a person of his status should be. Driven, self absorbed, focused solely on reaching his goal to make his family proud of him. This means obtaining the rank of Captain and marrying the Princess. This is what he wants. This is what he will do. The great thing is he isn't unnecessarily mean or vindictive to others around him. He's a snob, but a good guy.
War ensues and all of his dreams start to fall apart. He's told he might not make captain, (I won't tell you why) but is then given a ship and secret mission. He let's the criticism guide his choices. He makes choices that change his life and for the first time he's really alive. The men and women who work under him like him, respect him. And then...wow, we'll come back to this.
Tamsin Pavott--what can I say? I love her. She's strong but feminine, just as determined to prove herself and equal to the task before her. She really would follow Pendar to the ends of the universe.
Tatton--I really liked this guy. At first you don't think you're going to for many of the same reasons you might not like Pendar, but once again he turns out to be a good guy. I like good guys! He's got some growing up to do, but don't we all. In the end he's ready to step up to his challenges.
Alex is great with this. There are battles in space, high speed chases and battles planet-side, inner conflict about right and wrong, political conflict, he's got everything. Okay to sum up, everyone is fighting over one planet and who has the right to mine it basically. But nothing is straight forward as that. The power source they want to mine isn't a mineral, but a creature, and someone's keeping secrets about it. I think the odds against Hyrath were 9 or 10 to 1. Hyrath is stronger than all the other 9, but when ganged up on they slowly lose ground.
Luckily, there's a ship out there called the Dragon. It hasn't been seen for 20 years, but it's strong enough to change the tide of the war. But man oh man, the secrets are deep!
Spoilers (sort of!)--
I'll try to do this without spoiling it to bad. I loved this book. In the end, Pendar has to make a choice that ripped me in two. On one side the choice is simple and he makes the only choice he could. It's the one that completes his character arc and shows how far he's come from that self-centered man at the beginning. He's the best choice to accomplish the goal AND he's really good at it after making the choice.
On the other side, Pendar finally realizes how important other people are in his life. He notices Pavott and gets a small glimpse of what life with love in it could be. This happens right when/after/almost same time as the choice is made. The romantic in me was screaming, "Noooooo!" I was hoping there was another solution, but I knew there couldn't be. Ironically, the romantic in me was also satisfied with the choice and the outcome in a perfectly tragic but hopeful way.
That probably doesn't make any sense, but it will. It will. Just read the book when it comes out!
I give Dragon of the Stars by Alex Cavanaugh a 5. I am still thinking about that ending and it's been almost a week!
My rating scale for book reviews.
1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure