Monday, June 30, 2014

Adult Review: Fortune's Pawn (Rachel Bach)

Fortune's Pawn (Paradox, #1)
Title: Fortune's Pawn
Series: Paradox, Book 1
Author: Rachel Bach
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Rating: Adult (some sex, some language, violence [see Content below])
Told: First Person Singular (Devi), Past Tense
Format Read: Paperback (library)
Find It On: Goodreads


Devi Morris isn't your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It's a combination that's going to get her killed one day - but not just yet. 

That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn't misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she's found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn't give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle.

*          *          *

Why I Read It: Author Gail Carriger picked it as the first read for Gail's Book Group! Since I'd already added it to my TBR list earlier this year, and I was in a bit of a reading slump, I thought, why not? I'm so glad I did!

Series: The first in the Paradox trilogy, which are blessedly all released. While this book doesn't end on a literal cliffhanger (i.e. no one is in peril), there remained a bucketful of unanswered questions and the promise of much better (and badder) excitement to come. It practically required moving immediately on to the next book.

Setting: Space! The humans of this galaxy far, far away are supposed to be descendants of Earth, so it's our indeterminate future. Aside for the humans (and hybrid human species), we are introduced to less than a handful of very different (from humans and each other) alien races - some pretty cool, some rather terrifying. Interplanetary travel is done with spaceships, and hyperspace is utilized for longer treks mainly via gates unless you want to accidentally end up losing a century or two. Mainly your standard sci-fi framework with quite a few unique and pretty awesome tweaks.

Story: Devi has only ever been good at being a soldier and mercenary, and it's the only thing she's ever wanted to do. And she wants to be the best. With her sights set on the top - becoming a Devastator, one of the Sacred King's personal soldiers - she takes a sidestep job as security on a small trade ship with a cursed reputation that promises a fast pass to her dream. But she gets much more than she bargained for with an unusual crew and the mysterious stops that don't seem to have very much to do with trading. While this does bring a lot more fun to what would usually be a pretty dull job, Devi starts to realize there is much more than eccentricities to what the captain is up to.

Three-fourths of the book consisted of imaginative worlds, several nicely choreographed fight scenes, well-written monotony, and a pinch of very steamy romance. It read as a quick, relatively low-key and uncomplicated sci-fi story. And then All The Weirdness dropped like a ton of bricks in the last fourth. It was a little jolting, but The Weirdness was so awesome it was worth the minor case of whiplash. While Fortune's Pawn read a bit like a prologue to the rest of the trilogy, it was highly entertaining and made me crave the rest of the series even before All The Weirdness fell.

Characters: Devi was very uncomplicated - all she wanted out of life was a good job that fed her bloodlust and enough money to keep her in nice equipment and weapons. If it didn't fall within the purview of her job performance, don't bother her with the details. But when her curiosity finally got the better of her, she wasn't wishy-washy about it - either she wasn't interested or she wanted to know it all. Now. She got a little soppy when it came to Rupert, but luckily a fight usually sprang up to distract her. I loved her obsession with her armor and weapons, her thrill of fights, and her strict religious/military mindset. While there was something slightly off about her that I still can't quite put my finger on, for the most part I really enjoyed her. Rupert made for an interesting and mysterious romantic interest, and although he had his weak moments he stole my heart by the end despite, well, spoilers. The rest of the crew were a fun and unique collection with unfortunately minor parts - hopefully we'll get to spend more time with them in the later books. I did adore Nova though, and my heart went out to Ren.

Romantic Relationship: I enjoyed Rupert's side (probably since we weren't in his head), but Devi got a little too sappy for me. "Love" just didn't fit on a kick-arse gal like her. (Maybe that was the flaw in her character for me?) If not for the sap this book would've been perfect.

Writing: Easy and fun. When Devi wasn't being sappy about her love life I adored her snark and somewhat militarian voice. The fights were very well choreographed and the description relatively easy to imagine.

Content: Language: sprinkled in here and there but nothing too major. Sex: it opened with Devi after spending the night with a guy, and there was some making out and fleeting thoughts, but the only major bit was one quick but intense sex scene. Violence: Devi loved her violence so she dove headfirst into fights and we got all the details. But nothing overly gory - very clinical and military.

Conclusion: An easy, refreshing and thrilling read, and just what I needed to yank me out of a reading slump. Given the plethora of question marks at the end I was blessing the Sacred King that my library not only had Books 2 and 3 but they were waiting impatiently for me when I went to get them. Dove straight into Book 2, Honor's Knight, the same day I finished Fortune's Pawn, and may I just say the Prologue alone completely blew my mind. While I definitely recommend for 18+ because of content, if you like easy Science Fiction (especially with a pinch of Fantasy for flavor), then I highly recommend this book.

For Fans Of: Firefly and Star Wars


  1. Firefly and Star Wars? Heck, I will be reading this! Thanks for sharing! And this was really cool because I don't think I've read a Sci-fi review from you before!

    (I'm so sorry I've sucked at the comments. Stress, issues, uni, blogging, trying to be an entrepreneur.)

    1. I used to read a TON of adult sci-fi when I was younger, but not so much anymore. This proves I really should get back into it, though!

      (And no worries about commenting - I have missed you of course, but I totally understand how life loves to pile it on. Good luck with everything, and definitely wishing you less stress! <3)