Book Review: Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Book 1 of Paradox
Date of Publication: November 5, 2013
Author Information: Website | Twitter
Rachel Bach is also Rachel Aaron, an author who put herself on my radar earlier this year after I read The Spirit Thief, the excellent first book of her fantasy series The Legend of Eli Monpress. That novel really impressed me with its light-hearted yet suspenseful story, not to mention the fun, down-earth-characters. So while we may be heading to a place a little beyond earth’s atmosphere this time around, I had good a feeling that Fortune’s Pawn would be just as enjoyable and entertaining.
Fortune’s Pawn introduces us to Deviana “Devi” Morris, a Paradoxian mercenary not content to settle for anything less than the best — and the best, to her, is a position with the Devastators, the elite armored branch of the king’s fighting force. But achieving such a decorated post won’t be easy, and Devi knows she will need a lot more experience to even get herself noticed.
Following a tip from a friend, Devi applies for a job on the Glorious Fool, a tiny trade vessel with a reputation for being a “cursed ship”. Trouble seems to always follow the Fool, and it is said that one year of security work there is equal to five years anywhere else. If experience is what the Devastators want, Devi figures there’s no better place to get it. After all, she’s confident her skills can get her through anything.
Not entirely true, of course, as we the readers can expect. Secrets and a multitude of dangers await Devi, the kind she never would have thought to prepare for in a million years, including…love? Now, what’s this? Romance in my science fiction? Oh boy, I was tickled pink when I found out, practically cackling and rubbing my hands together with glee. This is one instance where the addition of a romantic arc was definitely most welcome. I didn’t think much of Devi at first, being all brawn and ambition, but throw in her feelings for Rupert Charkov, the Glorious Fool‘s sexy, charming and mysterious cook and suddenly she became a much more interesting and deeper character.
The plot, which I also thought would be rather simple and straightforward, took a few startling turns as well. To be honest, I’d picked this one up as a palate cleanser after my recent string of emotionally-heavy books, fully expecting it to be mind-candy I’d been looking for — quick, uncomplicated and fun. I had anticipated a few action scenes involving high-tech battles with aliens to be the highlight of Fortune’s Pawn, but much to my surprise, I quickly discovered a lot more below the surface. The book is indeed a lot of fun so I got what I wanted, but there’s also an intriguing mystery here, a teasing thread that gave the story that extra boost and made it more special.
In any case, Fortune’s Pawn was exactly what I needed, with its strong protagonist and her candid narrative, a colorful and interesting supporting cast (a crew member who is essentially a giant chicken as the ship’s second? Brilliant!) and the story’s dynamic, spirited pace. All this made it a great book that was really hard to put down.