#SciFiMonth Book Review: Reckoning by W. Michael Gear
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Book 6 of Donovan
Publisher: DAW (October 25, 2022)
Length: 512 pages
Author Information: Website
Welcome to Donovan. Every new book introduces fresh meat for the planet to chew up and spit out, and Reckoning was no exception. This sixth volume of the series opens with the return of the Turalon, a ship carrying the representatives of the Corporation and members of some of the most powerful families back in the solar system. The word is out that Donovan is teeming with natural resources, and the rich are looking to get richer by getting their slice of that pie. This leaves Board Supervisor Kalico Aguila in the unenviable position of trying to keep all the newcomers alive once they arrive on-planet, while babysitting some massive egos. And of course, none seem to be taking the dangers of Donovan seriously, to her great dismay.
One of the passengers is Falise Taglioni, sister of Dek Taglioni who had come to Donovan years ago. Her plan is to snatch up Donovan for her family before any of her rivals can stake a claim, and that involves first finding her brother and then bending him to her will. However, unbeknownst to Falise, Dek had become assimilated into his new home, living in the bush. When the siblings unite, she’s certain to be in for a shock. Also onboard is Inspector General Soukup of the Corporation who has come to investigate reports that their once loyal subject Kalico Aguila has broken her contract and must be brought back to answer for her transgressions, bringing along Colonel Creamer and his team of Marines to keep the peace.
If you’ve come this far with the series, you should know what to expect by now. The major cast of Donovan remains largely unchanged planetside, with Kalico and Port Authority security head Talina Perez keeping the town running smoothly. Then there’s the quetzal-bonded teenager Kylee Simonov who has reluctantly come in from the wilderness to take care of a wounded friend. Dek has come into town as well to await the arrivals from Turalon, as it’s always fun times watching the “soft meat” get their first taste of Donovan—especially when one of them is your sister.
Things are always changing on Donovan, as evidenced by all the people always coming and going. In many cases, they are also dying, falling prey to the planet’s deadly fauna and flora. In that sense, Reckoning is another welcome addition to the series. It’s a familiar refrain, after all.
Perhaps that is why the previous book, Adrift, has become my favorite in the series. It offered something a little different, taking readers to the oceans of Donovan and switching gears to follow the characters of the doomed Maritime Unit. Reckoning was a return to Port Authority that also felt like a return to status quo, and although I was glad to be back with the PA crew again, there was also a part of me that missed the action, the exploration and the adventure. Plus, there’s just no denying Adrift was one of hell of a book to follow-up.
But lest you think I was disappointed with Reckoning, I really wasn’t. Sure, it was one of the more understated installments of this series with a story that was smaller in scope and less complex, but we did get to see more development in our core characters and their relationships. It was also an opportunity to take a step back and really see how Donovan has affected their lives and changed the way they looked at the world, and how the community of Port Authority as a whole has evolved. Take Kalico Aguila, for example, the woman who came to Donovan to rule it with an iron fist on behalf of the Corporation, but “found herself” instead—along with a new respect for the planet. In the process, she has also won the love and admiration of the citizens of Port Authority, every one of whom would fight to keep the Corporation from taking her away.
The point is, even when a new Donovan book comes out with a more low-key plot, there’s still a lot about it to enjoy. Those who come to Donovan and survive are changed by the experience; we’ve seen this time and time again and there’s at least one character that this happens to in Reckoning, a character I hope we’ll see more of in the future. The series doesn’t seem to be losing any steam yet and I think W. Michael Gear still has a lot more ideas for Donovan in store, so I’m liking my chances.