author : sean danker
pages : [paperback] 320
favorite character : the admiral
In the follow-up to Admiral, the intergalactic war has ended and hostilities between the Evagardian Empire and the Commonwealth are officially over, but the admiral is far from safe. . . .
“I’d impersonated a prince, temporarily stopped a war, escaped a deadly planet, and survived more assassination attempts than I could conveniently count. After all that, there shouldn’t have been anything simpler than a nice weekend with a charming Evagardian girl.
However, some corners of the galaxy aren’t as genteel as the Empire, and Evagardians aren’t universally loved, which is how I ended up kidnapped to be traded as a commodity.
Their timing couldn’t have been worse. I’m not at my best, but these people have no idea whom they’re dealing with: a highly trained, genetically engineered soldier in the Imperial Service who happens to be my date.”
You may be thinking: Kayla, might it be an exaggeration to claim this is the best sci-fi novel you’ve ever read?
Nope. It isn’t. This is the sci-fi for people who don’t think they’d like sci-fi, and the one to get for those already obsessed with the genre.
For the record, I really enjoy sci-fi. I think it’s interesting to see what authors can come up with in terms of technology, space, and most importantly, characters. If your characters are flat, or boring, or just unenjoyable, it doesn’t matter what kind of tech they’re parading around the galaxy.
There is absolutely none of that when it comes to the cast filling Free Space. They tend to alternate between hilarious or terrifying. Some of them are capable of humor while also potentially able to kill someone five ways with the tip of a finger. This is the kind of stuff I live for.
First, let’s talk about how awesome it is that two of the four main characters this book centers around are female. Each completely capable of destroying or saving the known universe, possibly with one hand. But they’re also allowed their vulnerable, fragile moments. They’re allowed to make mistakes. They’re realistic–well, as realistic as it gets in science fiction, which is incredible. It’s so rare for me to find amazing representation in this in a sci-fi book–let alone one where the main narrator is male, let alone when written by a man. I could go on and on about this, just this, as a reason to read it, but like an infomercial, that’s not all!
As for the main narrator himself, the Admiral himself is as witty and always on the edge of death as ever. I love how Salmagard only ever refers to him with the title both of them know he never earned. I love how he somehow always seems to be two seconds away from death and yet acts like that was always park of the plan. Kind of like if Jack Sparrow had ever been intelligent enough to be an intergalactic spy.
I mean, yes, terrible, heart-pounding plot twists and insane things happen in the book that have you on the edge of your seat. Things that will encourage you not to put down this novel until the very end. Things that are as awesome as they are terrible for the characters to actually have to experience.
Let’s talk about the plot. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like it. Kind of part bumbling quest, part escape novel, part let’s-just-try-not-to-die. I love how this novel, as well as The Admiral, presents its own self-contained story within the series. I feel like that does so much more for these books, makes the writing more powerful and concise, and allows for more fun with the characters. I don’t want to spoil it by mentioning any specifics of what happen, because Free Space, unlike real space, is best experienced when you dive right in without knowing too much about it.
I can’t recommend this book enough. Honestly, I feel like I’ve been endlessly talking about it ever since I knew that it existed. Can there be more? I want more. I’d read more of this series in a heartbeat.
When I learned a sequel existed:
When I finished the book:
How I feel about the characters: