Rachel Bach – Fortune’s Pawn

Do you know that feeling when you are incredibly thirsty and you finally get that ice cold glass of water? That moment of “aaaaah” afterwards. Yeah, that’s the feeling I was having while reading this book. It was pure fun and relaxation and I am so pleased that I have the entire Eli Monpress series by the same author still ahead of me.

œF$¿Æ‘$8Òò¤»däå¸R8BIFORTUNE’S PAWN
by Rachel Bach

Published by: Orbit, 2013
Ebook: 368 pages
Series: Paradox #1
My rating: 8/10

First sentence: “You’re quit­ting the Black­birds?” The shock in An­thony’s voice was at odds with the fin­ger he was lan­guidly slid­ing over my naked back. “Why? You just made squad leader last year.”

All her life, powered armor mercenary Deviana Morris has wanted one thing: to join the Devastators, the most elite armor unit on her home planet of Paradox. But it’s hard to get noticed on a planet of billions. To speed things up, Devi takes a job aboard the Glorious Fool, an trade ship so dangerous that one year of service on its security team counts as five anywhere else. The ship’s terrible record doesn’t worry Devi at first, but when the captain starts sending her into impossibly dangerous situations no trader should ever get into, she beings to suspect that the Glorious Fool’s problems are more than bad luck. But with her career on the line, Devi’s determined to keep her nose down, despite her growing concern about the captain’s strange missions, his creepy silent daughter, and the ship’s insufferably sexy cook, Rupert Charkov, who is definitely more than what he seems. Maybe even more than human.
With the mysteries piling up and life on the Fool getting more dangerous by the second, Devi’s knows she’s going to have to get some answers fast, before all the secrets send her home in a body bag.

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After a difficult book like Ancillary Justice (not oh-noes-we-are-too-dumb-for-this difficult, just making you think a lot difficult) this was exactly what I needed. A light, fun, acion-packed read with just the right amount of romance and one hell of a mystery that remains yet unsolved.

Devi is a heroine to my liking. She’s aggressive, she knows her life will probably be short and so she makes the best of it. If she likes a man, she doesn’t play around for long, if she wants a job, she does whatever it takes to get it. In this case, her ambition of joining the elite Devestators, this means working as a security guard for Brian Caldwell, a captain who is cursed with bad luck.

If you liked Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica, you will have no trouble following Devi on her crazy adventure. Apart from her being a wonderful character, I was stunned by how well balanced the different elements of this story were. On the surface, you get an action adventure complete with fighting aliens, awesome power suits, space travel, and living at close quarters with crew mates. There also happens to be a little romance but it didn’t overshadow the story until the end. Go deeper one level, and you will find quite a thrilling mystery. This being the beginning of a trilogy, not much is revealed and the ending is rather abrupt.

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Rachel Bach does a wonderful job of keeping her readers entertained. Action doesn’t just follow action. There are quieter moments in between, there is room for character development, and – my favorite part, in case you hadn’t guessed it yet – there are hints, here and there, to the bigger picture. I can’t really say anything here without giving too much away and spoiling your potential pleasure at reading this.

I’m not a big romance reader, but if you throw a love story into my fantasy or science fiction, I usually roll with it. The attraction between the protagonists  in Fortune’s Pawn is immediate and tangible. The descriptions of Devi’s feelings toward Rupert just pull you in and make you feel as giddy as a teenager. I thoroughly enjoyed those magic moments of tension and final relief. That said, I just didn’t buy the love story. It started as lust, which I can totally buy into, especially the way Rupert is described. But Devi and Rupert didn’t spend enough time with each other that – to me – justified their sudden outburst of One True Love-ness. Sure, you grow attached if you live on the same ship, but I was missing the scenes where the two of them just talk or bond or joke or do something other than eyefrak or kiss. Again, not that I minded the kissing…

That is a relatively small complaint, all things considered, and the second I finished this book – after shouting “What?! That’s where this ends?” – I found myself eager to continue. This is one of those books that could go on forever and you would neither notice nor mind. It has been compared to Battlestar Galactica and Firefly. While it has neither of those shows’ depth, it definitely delivers the fun, the action, and the sexual tension between two highly interesting main characters.

I can’t wait for part two, Honor’s Knight, which Goodreads tells me, is scheduled to come out in February 2014. I guess I can survive that long, but let me tell you – this is a book I will buy on publication day!

THE GOOD: A great protagonist, lots of action, powered suits that are beyond cool, aliens, battles, and a mystery that kept me guessing on every page.
THE BAD:
The “love” story never surpassed a lust story for me, the ending is not quite a cliffhanger, but feels like somebody chopped one story into shorter bits at a random point. Forgivable, seeing as the next book comes out in a few months’ time.
THE VERDICT: Highly recommended. A quick read that is just So Much Fun, and not a single boring page in sight.

MY RATING:  8/10  – Excellent

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5 thoughts on “Rachel Bach – Fortune’s Pawn

  1. Carl V. Anderson says:

    I am consistently reading excellent things about this one and it sounds really good. I will be curious based on your comments to see how the romance develops as the trilogy goes on. May have to break down and snag this one.

    Like

    • Nadine says:

      You should! I saw you’re about to begin the Sci-Fi Experience again. This book fits beautifully into that.
      On the other hand, waiting until the trilogy is finished is probably not a bad idea either.
      The romance was fine. A bit too lovey-dovey for my taste, but I am very picky with my fictional romance. Starbuck and Apollo are pretty much my epic hero One True Pairing and anybody else pales next to them. 🙂

      Like

      • Carl V. Anderson says:

        I’m a romantic at heart so don’t mind the lovey-dovey stuff. Have you read Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold? That was probably the most “romantic” science fiction book I’ve ever read but I really enjoyed it.

        After commenting this morning I went and put my name in the queue for this from the library as it just sounds too good to pass on, especially with the Experience on the approach.

        Like

    • Nadine says:

      Sure! Thanks for the invitation. 🙂
      I’ll head over there right now.

      (2 minutes later) Aaaaaand, I posted the link. So exciting. Now I just have to find other SF novels to read in December and January.

      Like

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