Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Epic Sci-Fi Review: The Fated Sky: Transgressor Trilogy Book One (Fortune's Fools 1) by E.M. Swift-Hook

The Fated Sky: Transgressor Trilogy Book One (Fortune's Fools #1)
by E.M. Swift-Hook

One man's fight against fate shapes the destiny of an entire world.

Caer's breath hissed between his teeth. For some reason he had assumed that offworlders would be frail, with weak, puny bodies. From all he had heard they were feeble, using machines they had invented to do the work of their muscles. But this one was strong and his body was built like any ordinary man. His flesh carried several old scars and his muscles were clean and compact beneath the skin. The thought struck him that this man would fetch a fortune in the Alfor slave pens. The castellans would be scrambling over each other to purchase something so rare and exotic as a genuine offworlder.

“See, he is a fighter, Captain. This and this - they were made by blades,” Zarul said, pointing at the scars. Caer nodded.

“Well, if he lives, perhaps we shall find out what kind of fighter he is, this man from the stars.”

Temsevar is an insignificant Periphery world on the very fringes of galactic civilisation. Settled long before the rise of faster-than-light technologies and left isolated for hundreds of years, its population have degenerated into the barbarism of a medieval culture. This primitive world has nothing the wealthy planets of the Coalition could want, until it becomes unwitting host to one of their most dangerous enemies - Avilon Revid.

From the moment he wakes up in the caravan of the merchant-princess Alexa the Fair, Avilon has to fight simply to survive in a world where he is seen as alien and dangerous. It is a battle to obtain his freedom,that pushes his skills and resources to the limit,so he can find a way off-planet before his enemies in the Coalition track him down.

But Temsevar has its own brutal conflicts being played out against the backdrop of its harsh and unforgiving climate. The society is dominated by a ruthless Warlord, intent on subduing the entire continent to his will and whose brilliant general - Jariq Zarengor - has earned a reputation for callous bloodshed. And then there is the enigmatic Durban Chola, trading information to whoever pays him for it, while playing his own, highly dangerous, game with fate.

My Review:
The Fated Sky is the first installment of the Transgressor Trilogy. I’m not exactly sure why it claims to be part of yet another series, Fortunes Fools. It’s all a bit confusing to me.

But the story itself is gripping and exciting. Lots of action and intrigue and plenty of interesting characters, not all of whom are likeable. When told from their perspective, the story provides a glimpse of personal history, inner struggles, and overarching goals. But the perspectives shift, so interesting details emerge from a variety of sources: a casual observation, a personal encounter, or even an offhand rumor. It was one of my favorite aspects of the story.

And here’s another thing I liked. Temsevar feels like a fantasy world, but it’s set in a science fiction backdrop. Unsophisticated and driven by slave labor and warlike tendencies, Temsevar is just one of the worlds humans have settled and is of little note in the grander scheme of things, nothing more than a trade stop. But there’s a threat that simmers behind the scenes, a threat that the Coalition will take a greater interest in the world, and I think it hinges on whether Avilon makes it off world.

The story is complex, particularly at first, but everything makes sense, and once it settles onto a few main characters, it’s much easier to follow, though not too easy. It does leave off on quite a steep cliffhanger, definitely not a standalone, so you can expect to want to read the rest of the books.

Anyhow, I loved the book. Folks who love immersive fantasy and science fiction on an epic scale will likely enjoy this book. It’s meaty and complex, full of action and intrigue.

I picked up my copy of this book on Amazon while it was on a free promotion.

About the Author:
In the words that Robert Heinlein put into the mouth of Lazarus Long: 'Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.'

Having tried a number of different careers, before settling in the North-East of England with family, three dogs, cats and a small flock of rescued chickens, I now spend a lot of time in private and have very clean hands.